Meet the latest culture wars ‘warrior’, Archbishop Stephen Cottrell, the second most powerful cleric in the land, admired by none other than that living embodiment of Christian values, Nigel Farage.
Since we appear to be returning to a Henry VIII-style era, with a much-married autocrat dominating the political stage empowered by the eponymous powers of that Tudor despot, it is, perhaps, unsurprising that the established Church should reprise its role as the sidekick to a tyrant and resort to populism to rally its dwindling congregation.
The US version of this unhappy remake of history has also seen the same ugly co-opting of the organised Christian religion to achieve political ends, with Trump – another manifestation of every Christian virtue going…not… inspiring cultish devotion from so-called men and women of faith.
At a time when the poor, the sick, the outcast and the marginalised have never been more in need of Christian charity and opposition to policies which exacerbate the huge gulf between the haves and have-nots, instead we get these tub-thumping, dog-whistling nationalists abusing the power of the pulpit.
Apparently, the deep divisions in our society can be magically healed by rediscovering and celebrating English identity, glorifying in our heritage as a trading island and reminding ourselves of the unifying
“very particular but surprisingly enduring threads of our history, such as monarchy and church; and from the more recent past the NHS and even the BBC World Service”.
Yeah. That will totally fix things. Let’s have the theme park version of Merrie Englande! Let’s forget that our democracy is being dismantled, that our government is basically looting the country whilst cutting aid to the poorest, that the NHS is beng privatised piecemeal, that our young are being starved of food and a future, that our elderly and vulnerable have been thrown to the Covid wolves and that we have a media that has lionised men like Farage who would have a lifeboat crew leave fellow humans to drown. And let’s celebrate the culture which hates all foreigners and rejoices in Patel’s hostile regime and heaps bile and venom on young footballers because they are black. Oh, boy! You don’t get much more ‘christian’ than all that, do you? How inspirational!
And, yes, there are other dark resonances with the past:
The Deutsche Christen were sympathetic to the Nazi regime’s goal of “co-ordinating” (see Gleichschaltung) the individual Protestant churches into a single and uniform Reich church, consistent with the Volk ethos and the Führerprinzip.Wikipedia
Note the Archbishop’s emphasis on the past…and the distant past at that:
“I say this as a bishop of the Church of England, an inheritor of a post that dates back to 627AD. For a long time, the church inhabited a world that was a tapestry of kingdoms and not yet nation states. That memory of regional identity is still very strong here in the north, and only just below the surface elsewhere.
“Let’s play to our strengths: our shared history within these islands; our strong regional identities going back centuries. Let’s also look to the other things that bind us together as English and British, modernising and strengthening them rather than neglecting them or imagining they are the problem.”
Click on the link to Wikipedia’s ‘Deutsche Christen’ entry and draw you own conclusions.
You may think that making such comparisons is a step too far…maybe even offensive, but I would urge you to read this, too:
As a vicar’s daughter, I know that my late father would be disgusted by what has become of the church under such men as Cottrell and Welby, who for all Farage’s contempt is also guilty of attempting to gloss over the horrors perpetrated by this government. I am sure that many clergy are revolted in much the same way as many moderate Conservatives are over Johnson.
Stand up. Be counted. Don’t tell us that you don’t know what a true Christian would do.