Friday, November 9, 2012

Putative archbishop claims relgious views muzzled

Rt. Revd. Justin Welby Bishop of Durham
So the Rt. Revd. Justin Welby will be Archbishop of Canterbury.  The Daily Telegraph, which knows a thing or two about these things, calls him a worldly capitalist looking to spread the Word of the Lord.

Next Wednesday 14th November Welby is due to give a lecture called "Seen but not Heard – Should Believers have a Voice in the Polis?"  at Durham University.

He will claim that those who hold to religion are increasingly barred from airing their views in the public square. 

The advance publicity says the Bishop of Durham (as he still is) will explore the increasing tendency to suggest that those who hold faith based world views are disqualified from expressing any opinion in political life; or at the very least must excise such a world view from their minds when acting in public life. “To put it crudely” he will argue, the rule is “hold to any religion you like but don't let it affect your deeds.”

I think he exaggerates. Who says these things?  Church voices frequently assert that this is said, but is it said?  When? By whom? I wish I could be at the lecture to hear his case.

Admittedly the Irish politician Pat Rabbitte did say something like this not long ago. But he got scant support.

A word about that mitre thing

By the way the history of that mitre he’s wearing is instructive. It derives from a cap worn by officials of the Imperial Byzantine court. Or according to other sources, it's modelled on the ancient Byzantine imperial crown. More in Wikipedia. Or this website on Byzantine iconography (search for mitre.)


  1. Well Pete maybe as a general comment on the power of the Church in our society it's not far off the mark. He might be thinking of the recent case of the couple who ran a B&B and refused entry to two gay men who wanted to stay there. Instinctively I thought "well of course they are wrong, it's the 21st century, we can't allow discrimination like that" but I suppose to that couple they are being stopped from putting their religion into practice - their beliefs are that homosexuality is wrong, yet they can't stop it from happening under their own roof. I'm certainly not defending their point of view but it's symptomatic of a problem society faces - is religion now irrelevant to all bar those who practise it, and where it conflicts with more modern ways of thinking is it always to be the loser? Should ancient teachings be considered absolute by believers or should they be updated because they came from a time so different to ours as to mean they can't possibly act as guidance in the modern world? John Lennon was reviled in the sixties for discussing the decline of Christianity and its relevance, but he's been proved absolutely right in the intervening 40-odd years.

  2. We'll see if the good bishop refers to this B&B case tomorrow. In general, holding a belief strongly doesn't automatically permit one to act on it. I may believe strongly that bankers should have all their assets confiscated and given to the poor, but were I to attempt to enforce this, I would be locked up. The point is, however, in a democracy there's nothing preventing me arguing the case. Nor, sadly, will anything shield me from a chorus of “Boo … communist … don't listen to him!” I have to take it on the chin. And Christians likewise, when they argue their point, must occasionally put up with “Boo … Christians … don't listen to them!” This I think is what the bishop will complain of. And if he does, I'll heckle him with: Oi you in the silly hat, smell the coffee, toughen up, and take your whinging elsewhere!

    Hopefully his lecture will be reported, then we'll see if I'm right.

  3. Hmm, but religion has always had a higher place than just "holding a belief strongly" hasn't it? I don't have a Faith, but if I did (and I lived in a country nominally of that Faith) I may feel that I DID have a right to act on it. Maybe that should be the topic of debate - should Religion have any more of a voice than any other lobby? Should it have the same rights, less rights (which is what I assume he's saying it currently has) or more rights?

  4. Good point Noggin. My religion is socialism. I should have the right to practise it without let or hindrance. Hurrah! Oppressors beware!!