Break-up of the family is a social disaster we cannot ignore

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The Independent Online
From The Rev John Inge

Sir: In reviewing a new Church of England report on the family, Polly Toynbee accuses its compilers of "always trying to have their sacramental wafer and eat it"; but she seems to be doing the journalistic equivalent by pretending that her news doesn't exist and then writing about it. Whatever the merits or otherwise of this particular report, if the Church of England, with its "empty pews and crumbling edifices", is as moribund as she would have us believe, then why does she devote an entire article to this report on the family, and why does the Independent find it necessary to explain the contents of that same report in full on its front page?

By continually giving the Church such extensive coverage, the media are implicitly acknowledging what is in fact the case: that there is much more life in the Church of England than is described in what is written about it.

It is true that the Church of England has suffered from dwindling support in recent years but it remains one of the best resourced, best supported and best organised parts of the voluntary sector. In addition, it presents people with a message which, despite the mocking Enlightenment attitudes of Polly Toynbee and others, still appeals to vast numbers of people, because it rings true to them.

In churches up and down the land, it is transforming people's lives for the better as it speaks to them, humbly but confidently, of the eternal love of God. I invite Polly Toynbee to this parish so that she can see for herself what is happening at a local level and then, perhaps, write about the Church in a more balanced manner.

Yours faithfully,


St. Luke's Vicarage

Wallsend, Tyne and Wear

7 June