Letter: Public morality in good health

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Sir: In criticising 'DIY morality' (29 November), the Archbishop of Canterbury is clearly out of step with the majority, judging from the Independent/NOP survey on social trends (report, 30 November). The increasingly liberal attitudes on issues such as homosexuality and single motherhood show the extent to which people now derive their moral code from reason, personal experience and the exercise of individual conscience, rather than being ruled by mainstream church teaching (still less by government pronouncements).

In so far as the survey indicates that men and women are exercising their God-given right to make personal-moral choices, this is a sign of the robust health of society. The public is opting for a framework of values based on personal freedom combined with acceptance of responsibility for our actions and a rejection of the increasing gap between rich and poor.

These, I suspect, are the 'shared values' around which society is most likely to be prepared to unite, rather than a crude repackaging of so-called traditional values. The Conservative 'back to basics' agenda, with its fixations on sexual morality, punishment rather than rehabilitation of offenders, etc, would seem doomed to failure. Meanwhile, Unitarians and other religious liberals will continue to encourage 'DIY morality' together with a sense of community.

Yours faithfully,

MATTHEW F. SMITH

Information Officer

General Assembly of Unitarian

and Free Christian Churches

London, WC2

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