Sunday, 28 December 2008

A misplaced belt of the crozier

Today's extraordinary outburst from a cluster of Bishops about the 'immorality' of the Labour government rests on a series of fashionable - and wrong - assumptions. Their lordships clearly feel more comfortable relying on the wisdom of newspaper pundits rather than facts.

And contrary to received wisdom, those who have done best from this government have been the poorest who have been helped by everything from massive investment in education and the NHS to a huge injection of tax credits. Recent research has shown that the gap between rich and poor has not widened under Labour, but started to narrow.

Equally fatuous is the suggestion that the government is immoral for encouraging people to spend more, when a key reason people are losing their jobs is because retailers are sinking by the day. The economy needs people to spend more - and nobody is suggesting they should do so by racking up credit card debt.

I have always defended the rights of the churches, particularly when it comes to education. But bishops should not engage in party politics, especially when they seem not to know the facts. In Ireland, bishops developed a reputation for giving politicians a 'belt of the crozier' for legislation they disliked, all the while covering up appalling practices by some priests in their dioceses. I have just returned from there, where the big news has been about a bishop who allowed child abuse scandals on his watch displaying the most breathtaking arrogance in the wake of a series of events as shocking as anything in Haringey. Nevertheless, other bishops have rediscovered the Christian virtue of humility as a result of revelations over recent years.

Given that the Church of England is not exactly averse to a little speculative investment in property, oil and hedge funds, perhaps a touch of humility would be in order from their Lordships on this occasion too?

1 comment:

Miller 2.0 said...

Indeed... could this perhaps be linked to demands for disestablishment?