Religion can be 'dangerous and lethal', warns Bishop of London

Senior Church of England bishop says the church "has accommodated itself so much, and is so lacking in distinction"

Jonathan Wynne-Jones
Monday 22 September 2014 07:55 BST
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The Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres 'Much religion is really dangerous and I would say lethal'
The Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres 'Much religion is really dangerous and I would say lethal' (Getty)

Much religion is “really dangerous and lethal,” the Bishop of London has warned, although he claims that the Church’s biggest problem is not its attitude to gays and women but that it is “lacking in distinction”.

Richard Chartres, one of the Church of England’s most senior bishops, says “civilisation is in grave peril,” adding that it is arrogant and deeply needy.

However, he says the Church is struggling to address society’s problems because it has failed to be counter-cultural. While he says religion can be dangerous, “Western religion is feeble”.

“Much religion is really dangerous and I would say lethal,” he told the blog Philosophy for Life. “We project parts of ourselves – our anger, all kinds of personal psychic material – into the middle distance, deifying it.”

Bishop Chartres – who previously caused controversy by saying that flying to go on holiday was “a symptom of sin” – says religion in the West “has become ideas in the mind”, a development he describes as “a very modern tragedy”.

The traditionalist bishop argues that the Church of England is not counter-cultural enough. “The real trouble with the Church is not that it has retrograde social attitudes, or hasn’t embraced the emancipation of women – it’s that it’s spiritual incredible. It’s just as shallow as the rest of us.

“The church has accommodated itself so much, and is so lacking in distinction.”

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