This is the text of a Joint Statement from Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York:
“The European Parliamentary and local elections on June 4th will take place at a time of extraordinary turbulence in our democratic system. It is a time for great vigilance over how to exercise our democratic right to vote. The temptation to stay away or register a protest vote in order to send a negative signal to the parties represented at Westminster will be strong. In our view, however, it would be tragic if the understandable sense of anger and disillusionment with some MPs over recent revelations led voters to shun the ballot box. Those whom we elect to local councils and the European Parliament will represent us and our collective interests for many years to come. It is crucial to elect those who wish to uphold the democratic values and who wish to work for the common good in a spirit of public service which urgently needs to be reaffirmed in these difficult days. There are those who would exploit the present situation to advance views that are the very opposite of the values of justice, compassion and human dignity are rooted in our Christian heritage. Christians have been deeply disturbed by the conscious adoption by the BNPof the language of our faith when the effect of those policies is not to promote those values but to foster fear and division within communities, especially between people of different faiths or racial background. This is not a moment for voting in favour of any political party whose core ideology is about sowing division in our communities and hostility on grounds of race, creed or colour; it is an opportunity for renewing the vision of a community united by mutual respect, high ethical standards and the pursuit of justice and peace. We hope that electors will use their vote on June 4th to renew the vision of a community united by the common good, public service and the pursuit of justice.
They are so right. My previous post at https://unfinishedchristian.wordpress.com/2009/04/07/the-bnpwhat-would-jesus-do/#comment-169 has proved to me the most viewed and commented on so I guess this has stirred up emotions on all sides about free speech, democracy, racism, hate and unity. I hope you are encouraged to do the right thing and support unity, diversity and justice.
When the FA appointed a Swede to head up the management of the England football team there was stunned disbelief- until that is the supporters realised he was the right man for the job. When he was replaced with an Englishman who failed to qualify for the Euros the fans expressed their disgust. Now we are coasting into the World Cup finals in South African led by an Italian.
Yesterday the BBC yesterday appointed a Muslim as its head of religious programming in a radical departure from broadcasting tradition. In the past the post of head of religion at the BBC has been considered a job for a senior and respected cleric or lay churchgoer.The Church of England’s place as the established Church has usually been influential in the choice of post holders.There were deep reservations among church leaders eight years ago when for the first time the corporation appointed an atheist to the role.
Now the post has gone to Aaqil Ahmed,who has been working as an executive at Channel 4.The Christian backlash has already begun. Voices have been raised by the usual suspects who seem to believe that Muslims are the work of the devil, but even more liberal and thoughtful Christian leaders such as Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury have added their critical voices to the debate. Dr Williams raised concerns over the prospect of a Muslim head of religious broadcasting during a meeting with the corporation’s director general Mark Thompson in March and I am sure an official position statement will be issued from Lambeth within the week.
Christians are feeling under attack and marginalised ,and both Dr Williams and Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu have made repeated public complaints over the indifference and occasional hostility to Christianity shown in Whitehall and from other authorities.Last year the BBC gave the job of producing its most popular and long running religious programme, Songs of Praise, to a Sikh, Tommy Nagra.
The Church of England points out that 70 per cent of the population of Britain professes to be Christian, but only 3 per cent are Muslims and is in disbelief that a minority appointment could be made in this instance. Why? An official spokesman for the CofE said: ‘We will judge the new man by his output rather than his label.’ and Christina Rees, a member of the Church’s ‘Cabinet’, the Archbishops’ Council, said: ‘Aaqil Ahmed is a respected professional who has an established record of producing programmes on religion and ethics.It is important that the Christian faith continues to receive coverage that accurately reflects its significance in the lives of most people who live in Britain, the overwhelming majority of whom regard themselves as Christian.’
Mr Ahmed is currently Channel 4’s senior executive for religious programmes. He has commissioned series on the history of Christianity and the Koran.His critics accuse him of dumbing down religion, for example in one programme by presenting an assessment of the state of Christianity by Cherie Blair.Mr Ahmed is a trustee of the Runnymede Trust, a body that has championed the ideology of multiculturalism.He has also taken part in campaigns for a greater Muslim presence in the media.
Doesn’t it say somewhere in the scriptures that God surprises us with the people he choosesto do his work. Jesus made a Samaritan and not a Jew the hero of his most famous parable and told is followers that he had found more faith in a Roman soldier than in his own people. I wonder if anyone has pointed this out to Mr Ahmed or the Archbishops: I think we are in for an interesting time don’t you? I hope every Christian leader in the country will write a warm letter of welcome to Mr Ahmed, and I look forward to some imaginative broadcasting on his watch.
Sing when you’re winning, you only sing when you’re winning…….
For full report see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1180715/BBC-appoints-Muslim-religious-post-controversial-first.html
Filed under Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York, bbc, Broadcasting, Christian values, Christianity, church, Church of England, ethics, faith, faith Christianity, islam, radio, religion, TV
I have just read Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader, a book of no more than 121 pages, which was described by the Observer as “a masterpiece of comic brevity.”It’s the story of what happens when the Queen stumbles across a mobile library parked outside the Palace, and the amazing journey of self-discovery she goes on after developing an insatiable desire for reading. It’s a journey full of surprises and I won’t spoil the ending for you, but wanted to share what happens when Her Majesty’s love of reading encourages her to think that she is now ready to read more in public (other than the boring address to parliament) and after reading a book on the Elizabethan Settlement she phones up The Archbishop of Canterbury:
” ‘Archbishop. Why do i never read the lesson?’ ‘I beg your pardon ma’am?’ ‘In church. Everybody else gets to read and one never does. It’s not laid down, is it? It’s not off-limits?’ ‘Not that I’m aware, ma’am.’ ‘Good. Well in that case I’m going to start.Leviticus, here I come. Goodnight.’ The archbishop shook his head and went back to Strictly Come Dancing.”
Delightful stuff, but would it be so ridiculous for the Defender of The Faith to read the Bible lesson in church one Sunday? Can you imagine the look on the vicar’s face when her Majesty turns up- Worship is sudenly not so common after all.
The surreal nature of the book made me think of Her Majesty by the Beatles so I include this here for your amusement
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams was interviewed on the BBC R4 Today programme this morning, explaining why world leaders attending the G20 summit in London this week should not forget their promises to the world’s poorest. He called upon world leaders to think about the most sensible way to run the economy and our enviornnment, believing that we have become short-sighted and greedy by allowing ourselves to be lured into tunnel vision about investment. He shared his anxiety of a culture where the expresison of immediate emotion and instinct, and the increase in casual violence. He called on us to work at recovering a sense of what it is to look at ourselves;,value courage and fidelity and rediscover what it is to be truly human. He was saddened by the corrosive cynisim that has permeated our society, and felt that there was too much blame being thrown around. When asked by the presenter if people still actually listened to The Archbishop, Rowan replied “Occasionally, but they don’t always agree with him.”
To hear the interview, click on the audio link listed by the feature, which was broadcast at 0732 am
I recently read a great book- Why go to church? by Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP. The book challenged and inspired me to look at what we do as church- our rituals and traditions – from the point of view of those who find going to church boring and pointless. I am not a Roman Catholic, yet I found the book engrossing and very readable.
It helped me discover afresh some of the depth and truth around the drama of the Eucharist or communion and I was delighted that Rowan Williams ,The Archbishop of Canterbury, selected this as his Lent Book choice for 2009. In his foreword he wrote, “The drama at the core of our humanity is about the reluctance to be human; and the gift that the Church offers is the resource and courage to step into Jesus’ world and begin the business of being human afresh- again and again.”
But guess what? Yes, the naysayers are at it again! I open today’s Sunday Timesto read that a member of the Protestant Truth Society is reported to be upset that the Primate of the Church of England has invited a group of Catholic Dominican Friars to launch the book at Lambeth Palace by chanting compline or night prayer. The reason for the complaint is recorded as the Roman Catholic Church being in opposition to the doctrines of the Church of England as expressed in the 39 articles of faith, and one person is quoted as saying, “It’s a sad day when The Archbishop of Canterbury can decide to join in prayer with one of the orders that so viciously opposed the Protestant Reformation”- the sins of the fathers eh!
Apparently it’s the first time that anything like this has happened there since the Reformation, and I for one believe this should be the cause of celebration and not offence or regret.
So what’s so bad about one Christian tradition joining another in prayer at Lambeth Palace? For me, I am happy with the words of Rowan Williams from his foreword; “I hope that these pages will remind us all that, whatever tensions and unfinished business still lie between the historic churches, the basic commitment is one and the same. It is to let God…touch the core of our humanity and…free us to be sent in God’s name, to announce healing and joy to all creation.”
So Protestant Truth Society or Catholic Truth Society it matters not to me: I’m happy with the truth that Rowan and Timothy are living out and let’s stop making this compline complicated and instead celebrate the symbolism of love and togetherness of different traditions coming together in prayer to get people to understand more why we do go to church?
The first book of Timothy’s I read was “What is the point of being a Christian?” It’s also the question I wonder should be asked of some in The Protestant Truth Society today.