Leading article: Let the church speak its mind

Share
Related Topics

In his reflections on the meaning of Maundy Thursday – the day when the Queen distributes silver coins to the congregation in a symbolic act of Christian humility during Easter week – the Archbishop of Canterbury courted controversy with a tongue-in-cheek suggestion.

Rowan Williams put forward the idea that we might make the rich and powerful emulate the Queen's example by passing a law that obliged bankers and cabinet ministers, among others, to spend several hours each year performing such tasks as serving primary school lunches, or cleaning bathrooms in care homes.

As he prepares for Passion Sunday, the climax of the Christian year, the Archbishop has made it clear that even if the church he leads is a smaller, more marginal force than it once was, he is determined to uphold its right to remain at the centre of the national debate.

In some ways, it is a bold strategy. The church could have reacted to the prolonged decline in its fortunes by opting to behave as inoffensively as possible in the hope that if no one noticed it still existed, it could hold on to the vestigial privileges of "establishment".

To the church's credit, it has not done this. Dr Williams and his fellow bishops often stand up for the poor and the marginalised more trenchantly than do politicians. The church is criticised for being out of touch – rightly, when one considers its archaic views on homosexuality, among other subjects. But when Dr Williams condemned bankers' bonuses as "immoral" earlier this year, he probably articulated public feeling much more directly than most political leaders appeared willing to do.

It is unfortunate for the church that such interest as remains in it often focuses on Barchester-style clerical scraps. The church deserves better. Britain is no longer a Christian country but it is still a country in which there are many Christians. We should welcome church leaders' contributions to the national debate – especially when they are as radical and imaginative as Dr Williams's.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Supply Teacher - Loughborough

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Are you a Teacher looking fo...

Primary General Cover Teachers

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leicester: Are you a Newly Qualified Teacher lo...

Part Time Primary Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Part Time Primary TeacherOur...

Science Technician

£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: The Job:School Science Technici...

Day In a Page

Read Next
NO ballots are stacked on a table during the Scottish independence referendum count at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh  

Scottish referendum: Some divorces are meant to happen – this one wasn’t

Dotti Irving
 

To see how the establishment operates, you really needed to be at this week’s launch party for Andrew Marr’s new book

John Walsh
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week