Who can tell us best way to live?

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The Independent Online
The Home Secretary, Michael Howard, said he "strongly welcomed" the call for better moral instruction for children. "There can be no greater influence for society's good than giving young people an unequivocal moral framework for their lives.

"Nowhere is that clearer than in dealing with crime. There must be much greater emphasis on the part which schools and parents can play in teaching children the difference between right and wrong.

But David Deeks, general secretary of the Methodist Churches' division of social responsibility, said: "The Archbishop has underestimated the huge gap between his starting point and where most people are in society in terms of values and interests and aims.

"Parents do teach children values. They teach them values which the Archbishop disapproves of," he said.

Terry Dicks, Tory MP for Hayes and Harlington, said: "It ill becomes a churchman to say we should go back to traditional values when he allows perverts, such as homosexuals, to preach from the pulpit. On that basis, this seems an illogical and hypocritical stand."

Professor Bernard Williams, professor of Moral Philosophy at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University, said there was a problem with who had the moral authority to make pronouncements on the way people lived their lives. "I think a list of things from authoritative figures is not likely to make a tremendous impact on that.

"The fact that something is drawn up by a Bishop or his associates or his advisers is not going to make a great deal of impact on people because the question arises of what their authority is in these matters."

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's The World At One, he said it was "humbug" to extol the virtues of the individual and their success in society and then say we should all be nicer; most people were aware of morality in their own way.

Sir Rhodes Boyson, MP for Brent North and an ex-headmaster, said the 1944 Education Acts on religious assemblies should be enforced. "The intentions of the Act have been largely betrayed with little or no protest from the churches."