Tory fury at Pastoral Letter2a
Church of England

"Tory fury" over Church of England letter is a confected Tory tantrum

 

Each day when Parliament is sitting, the Duty Bishop in the House of Lords prays that the House should “Lay aside all private interests, prejudices and partial affections”, so that it may serve “the public wealth, peace and tranquillity of the Realm, and the uniting and knitting together of the hearts of all persons and estates within the same.” This prayer points Parliament towards a search for the Common Good and towards political virtues which reach beyond narrow Party interest, tribalism and short term advantage. It is a call to resist the reduction of politics to seeking self interest as the only clear moral imperative.

So expounded the Bishop of Leicester at the launch of ‘Who is my Neighbour?‘ – a letter from the House of Bishops to the people and parishes of the Church of England for the General Election 2015. It is the first such Pastoral Letter ever to be issued by the House of Bishops of the Church of England. The Bishop of Leicester explained:

This letter seeks to work out the implications of that for the conditions of our day. It recognises the strength and depth of the alienation and disillusion with politics and the absence of attractive visions of the kind of society and culture towards which the Parties might be working. We encourage the kind of political vision which affirms the bonds which tie us together. We note that the grander visions of 1945 and of 1979 can no longer deliver a sustainable society in which all can flourish. A new vision is required in which neither the State nor the market can accumulate the kind of unfettered power which divide people from one another and defeat hope and purpose. In particular we seek to resist politics as an extension of consumerism in which Parties tailor their policies to attract tightly defined electoral groups, appealing to sectional interests in pursuit of a narrow slice of swing votes.

Note the careful balancing of 1945 (the advent of Clement Attlee which led to widespread social reform and a programme of nationalisation) with 1979 (the advent of Margaret Thatcher which led to fundamental economic reform and a programme of privatisation).  The era of left-right polarities is over, the Bishops aver. Now is the time for “a new vision”. They don’t quite say it, but we are left to infer that without this vision the people will perish.

The Letter is long – very, very long. In fact, it is not so much a Pastoral Letter as a Metropolitan Thesis. Few will read it all: the temptation is simply to dip into it, extract half a sentence from the topic you most fancy, and wave it about whilst stomping all over the entire treatise. That would be a mistake, for the document as a whole is a vision of Utopian polity which tells us far more about the political leaning of the House of Bishops than any document since.. well, ever. The 1985 booklet Faith in the City which was so critical of the Thatcher trajectory of reform was authored by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Urban Priority Areas – a specific posse of elite fault-finders; Who is my Neighbour? comes from the Church of England’s House of Bishops – some 53 diocesans and suffragans with eight senior women clergy. And by prefacing their Letter with the question: “How should Christian men and women approach the General Election to be held on 7 May 2015?”, we are made a little lower from the outset, for in that episcopal ‘should’ are a myriad of patronising ‘oughts’. If they do not – as they say – present a “shopping list of policies”, we are left in doubt about their preferred corpus of political philosophy.

Length aside, the Letter touches on serious matters of government, democracy, policy and participation. Out of courtesy, therefore, the Church would naturally send an advanced copy to the Prime Minister – not for any kind of approval, you understand, but out of common courtesy and faithfulness to procedural propriety.

But its leaking by No.10 to the Lobby (and to the Daily Telegraph in particular) was an unwise betrayal of confidence which caused (as intended) a wholly contrived spat. It led to the hysterical headline by Peter Dominiczak, the paper’s Political Editor, of ‘Church of England campaigning for EU integration‘, and a further one by Steven Swinford and Ben Riley-Smith of ‘Tory fury over Church of England letter‘. Note that these names are all political correspondents, journalists and reporters – the Lobby. Such matters as ecclesial epistles would ordinarily be dealt with by John Bingham, the Telegraph‘s Social and Religious Affairs Editor. The paper’s political scorn continued with Matthew Lynn’s ‘The Church has been hijacked by a woolly left-of-centre Keynesianism‘. You have to love those graciously Anglican-loving (off-shore) Barclay brothers: their ecumenism is as boundless as their HSBC advertising account.

Let us deal at this point with the much-vaunted ‘Church of England campaigning for EU integration’ story. You will see from the Letter that this claim is alarmist nonsense. The Bishops write:

After the Second World War, the nations of Europe sought to rebuild for prosperity through a shared determination that never again would global neighbours resort to mass slaughter. The differences between the peoples of Europe, which had loomed so large in war, seemed insignificant when people recollected how extensively they shared a history, culture and, not least, the traditions and world views of the Christian faith. English churchmen worked tirelessly to promote understanding and cooperation between the European churches and to encourage the political institutions of the European nations to work for the common good and focus on what they shared, not what divided them.

That history is not an argument for the structures and institutions of the European Union as they now exist. But it is an enduring argument for continuing to build structures of trust and cooperation between the nations of Europe. Ignoring or denying the extent to which European people share culture and heritage suggests that questions of identity and belonging have no currency except as political bargaining chips.

This is far from an episcopal argument for deeper EU integration. If anything, it is an affirmation of David Cameron’s desire for renegotiation: the Bishops are effectively saying that they are ‘pro-Europe’, but not the Europe that we currently have. They are not arguing for EU bureaucratic structures and institutions, but for “continuing to build structures of trust and cooperation between the nations of Europe”. Structures of trust and cooperation are not clandestine, coercive or anti-democratic: they are transparent, optional and accountable.

The Letter purports to offer “a fresh moral vision of the kind of country we want to be”. That’s good. It asks how we might “build the kind of society which many people say they want but which is not yet being expressed in the vision of any of the parties”. That’s even better. The Letter encourages church members to engage in the political process ahead of the General Election and to put aside self-interest and vote for the common good: “The privileges of living in a democracy mean that we should use our votes thoughtfully, prayerfully and with the good of others in mind, not just our own interests.” Moreover: “Unless we exercise the democratic rights that our ancestors struggled for, we will share responsibility for the failures of the political classes. It is the duty of every Christian adult to vote, even though it may have to be a vote for something less than a vision that inspires us.”

Only Christadelphians and the odd Quaker would have a problem with that. Most other Christians tend to engage and participate in the democratic drive, if only to fuel the self-righteous and self-interested instinct to disagree, complain and argue with those who spout unutterable tosh. Importantly, though perhaps a little self-defensively, the Letter defends the right of the Church to enter into the political arena:

It is not possible to separate the way a person perceives his or her place in the created order from their beliefs, religious or otherwise, about how the world’s affairs ought to be arranged. The claim that religion and political life must be kept separate is, in any case, frequently disingenuous – most politicians and pundits are happy enough for the churches to speak on political issues so long as the church agrees with their particular line.

And the Bishops draw on the experience of the Church of England as a Christian presence in every community to warn of the disengagement between politicians and the people. They note that “with few exceptions, politicians are not driven merely by cynicism or self-interest” but, nevertheless, “the different parties have failed to offer attractive visions of the kind of society and culture they wish to see… There is no idealism in this prospectus”.

All this is true. Very true. As is their sociological analysis:

The extent of loneliness in society today, with the attendant problems of mental and physical health, is one indication of how far we have drifted into a society of strangers. But that drift is far from complete – and few people, if asked, would say that a society of strangers represents a vision of society which they desire.

The Letter specifically avoids advocacy for one any political party. Indeed, they pre-empt any suggestion of partisanship: “If anyone claims that this letter is ‘really’ saying ‘Vote for this party or that party’, they have misunderstood it.” So there. But when they include a terse summary of the Thatcher years as espousing “unregulated markets” (she never did and they never were), with an “individualistic emphasis” (she believed in families and sought to strengthen communities), there is a sense of political history more influenced by Spitting Image than Thatcher’s political theology. There is no mention of context; no awareness, for example, of the high inflationary wage settlements, interminable strikes and economic meltdown which led to Britain becoming the ‘Sick man of Europe’. If the Bishops are not quite advocating that we vote for a particular party, they are certainly nudging us towards the Promised Land of a particular socio-political philosophy.

We are told that under the Coalition Government unemployment has been rising (it hasn’t); in-work poverty has been rising (it’s the same as under Labour); austerity has been too harsh (it is modest); inequality has been widening (it hasn’t); and the cuts in government spending have fallen unfairly (the wealthy are paying a higher share of taxation than they were under Labour). If only one bishop would bother tweeting out each month’s fall in unemployment or each rise in youth employment, they might realise that the Government’s record on this is both sound and moral. If austerity has been too harsh, they might consider that the national debt still rising: we are still living beyond our means. Do they support further increases in government borrowing?

It is a shame that a Pastoral Letter contains such factual inaccuracies as those we might expect to be hurled across the Dispatch Box at PMQs. It gives the impression of a House of Bishops doing Ed Miliband’s job (an awful lot better). If the Bishops want to attack the ‘bedroom tax’ (+Manchester) or ‘excessive consumerism’ (++York), they might balance their condemnation with praise when a Tory government gets it right – on, for example, encouraging industry, self-reliance and the rewards of hard work. Or is that too atomised and individualistic?

This Pastoral Letter is far too long to consider in a single blog post, so the intention is to deal with it section by section over the coming weeks. That way we might collectively forge a considered response to the House of Bishops in the hope that their next Pastoral Letter (2020?) might be as philosophically cultivated as this one professes to be politically neutral. In the meantime, please try to wade through their thesis and reflect upon spiritual motives as well as its theo-political meanings. And don’t allow No.10 spin and collusion with certain favoured media (and conveniently-primed rent-a-quote MPs) to deflect from the reality that some things really are deeper than politics and economics, and far more important than partisan posturing – even on the run-up to a General Election.

  • James60498 .

    Good post, and in particular the last paragraph.

    But as this is the start of “make your mind up time”, I want to dispute a major point and add an alternative.

    One comment for debate. “it is the duty of every Christian to vote”. Is it?

    I would agree that it is the duty of every Christian to consider voting. To weigh up the arguments and to make a decision as to what to do on Election Day.

    But if you feel that it is inappropriate to vote for any candidate then I would argue that this is every bit as good a decision as a decision to vote for one of them.

    I might be thought somewhat insane, but I used to enjoy electioneering. Night after night I was out walking the streets. Weekends, took days off work. One evening, before widespread mobile phones I got to our constituency office to find no one there. Instead of going home I went to the neighbouring constituency and did some telephone canvassing for them, only going home when it was decided to stop for the night when a major football match had started and it was realised that no one was answering the phone. I miss that now. I sometimes look wistfully out of the window remembering the old days, though perhaps not if it’s raining.

    But there is no one to campaign for now. And I am not even sure there is anyone to vote for.

    Staying at home to watch TV may possibly be regarded as inappropriate. Deliberately spoiling your ballot paper can be a moral decision.

    • James60498 .

      Just a further point. On one local election occasion I did choose to stay at home.
      Again this was a specific choice. I did it so that when they received the marked voting registers, my former party would see that I no longer felt them worthy of my vote. A spoiled ballot paper would not have made that point as they would know that I had turned up to vote and probably assumed that I had voted for them.

      Again a decision not to vote and to make a point, and a far more considered one than most to actually vote.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Sometimes you find there is no-one (individual) you can vote for – this may well be the case this time.

  • len

    The Church needs to speak out on important matters affecting all of society and I commend the church for having done so.
    The church has remained silent too many times in the past and if the conscience of the Nation has been stifled then the Church needs to become the voice of that conscience and to speak out.

    • Politically__Incorrect

      “…then the Church needs to become the voice of that conscience and to speak out.”
      Agreed in principle. however, when the bishops speak out they tend to sound like the spiritual wing of the Labour party. They must speak in truth and without deference to any kind of political correctness, however unpalatable that may be to some people.

    • Watchman

      The message we need from the bishops, Len, is a call to the nation for repentance from all the legislation that has angered God. They choose instead to invite us to vote for the satanic evil of left wing politics!

  • Uncle Brian

    One surprising omission: there’s no explicit condemnation of Ukip.

  • Aaron D Highside

    These pampered clerics have managed to empty the churches, now they turn to politics for an audience. Men neither of God nor the people, they should fit right in with Cameron, Clegg and Miliband.

  • A British is tragically hit by a truck and dies. His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

    “Welcome to heaven. Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high political official around these parts, you see, so we’re not sure what to do with you.”, says St. Peter.
    “No problem, just let me in,” says our deceased politician.
    “Well, I’d like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we’ll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity.”

    St.Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him. Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people. They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and champagne. Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly & nice guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go. Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator raises.

    The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him. Now it’s time to visit heaven. So, 24 hours pass with the senator joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.

    “Well, then, you’ve spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity.”, says St. Peter.
    The politician reflects for a minute, then answers:
    “Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell.

    So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.
    Now the doors of the elevator open and he’s in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in bags as more trash falls from above. The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder.

    “I don’t understand,’ stammers the politician. “Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there’s just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?”

    The devil looks at him, smiles and says, “Yesterday we were campaigning….Today you voted.”

  • carl jacobs

    A few reactions…

    1. Who did they think would actually read this stuff?

    2. Why does the CoE insist on creating documents that substitute numbers for paragraph transitions? It’s annoying. This isn’t a letter so much as 100+ loosely connected paragraphs.

    3. This isn’t a “new political vision” or however they describe it. It’s the Big Rock Candy Mountain. It’s a compendium of rainbows that appear without rain, and fluffy bunnies that don’t consume your garden, and flowers that never wilt. It’s a land where every day is summer, and mosquitoes don’t sting, and children don’t talk back, and the cows give champagne instead of milk. All that is missing are the Care Bears.

    4. Someone thought this sentence profound: “Good relationships take into account the power of history and the history of power.” The whole document is filled with cute little proverbs like that.

    After a while, I started to skim. Surely I could find some substance somewhere. But, no. Documents like this are why viewers have scroll bars, after all. I paused briefly on their illiterate musings about nuclear weapons ( … “talismanic power”? Really? ) and then I pretty much gave up the ghost.

    Suffice it to say that no one will be studying this document 100 years hence. Or even a week from now, for that matter. There isn’t anything to study. There isn’t any “there” there.

    • Carl, my goodness ! Positive, poetic imagery ! Who would have believed it !

      A “compendium of rainbows that appear without rain”, and “fluffy bunnies that don’t consume your garden, and flowers that never wilt.” My, my … and then the crescendo, “a land where every day is summer, and mosquitoes don’t sting, and children don’t talk back, and the cows give champagne instead of milk.”

      Haven’t read the rest of your post yet as Happy Jack has to have a lie down. The sheer shock of it all ………..

      • avi barzel

        We have a problem. This will get much worse. I think all these up-votes got to Carl’s head.

        • No, no, no ….. this is a good thing, Avi. Happy Jack has been encouraging Carl to develop his latent artistic, imaginative qualities.

          The coaching in humour and irony hasn’t been going too well, so it’s heartening to see progress in this area.

          • carl jacobs

            Jack

            You realize, of course, that all that happy-speak was in fact a means of scorching criticism. Correct?

          • “gasp” …….. (Jack isn’t stupid, no matter what your fellow countrymen might say)

            It was your use of colourful, bright imagery that set it apart, Carl, regardless of the intended sarcasm.

          • carl jacobs

            But if I use happy-speak for a dark purpose, how would that count? Wouldn’t I have to use happy-speak for a happy purpose?

          • Actually, this occurred to Jack too. It’s a retrograde step after all if you can only use positive allegory for negative reasons.

            Jack is failing in his mission ………… badly.

          • avi barzel

            Jack, Carl was in S.A.C. You don’t want him getting all funny and stuff, especially if funny involves braids of ICBM contrails.

          • This is true ….. imagine if he took a ‘turn’ and wanted to light up the sky with bright colours and fluffy mushrooms !

        • carl jacobs

          Fortunately, my naturally reserved American character and my natural American reticence will prevent this from ever happening.

    • ………… and cuddly pussy cats snuggle at one’s feet.
      (for the Inspector)

    • chiefofsinners

      “2. Why does the CoE insist on creating documents that substitute numbers for paragraph transitions? It’s annoying. ”
      Yes – and who stuck all those blinking chapters and verses into that other book…what was it called?

      • Pubcrawler

        Funnily enough, it was a former archbishop of Canterbury. Maybe it’s part of the job description.

  • len

    The Bishops seem to be dammed if they don`t …dammed if they do speak out.So the moral here is to disregard public opinion and to coin a phrase ‘ just do it’.
    Perhaps we should see this attempt by the bishops to put forward their views as a learning curve with more to follow?.

    • The Church should seek to influence the world through highlighting Christian considerations in electing politicians and holding them to account.

      The modern Roman Catholic Church has been doing this with a whole series of official teaching documents since Rerum Novarum – “Of New Things”, issued by Pope Leo XIII in 1891. In it he highlighted the principles needed to bring about a just society – the ‘just wage theory’; protecting the rights of workers; free association being defended by the state; and private property being defended.

      Evangelii Gaudium – “The Joy of the Gospel”, issued by Pope Francis in 2013, gives particular attention to the ‘social dimension of Evangelisation’. It talks of social problems, characterised by Pope Francis as the ‘crisis of communal commitment’ and touches on the markets, the economy of exclusion, inner city life, spiritual worldliness and consumerism, among other things.

  • Dominic Stockford

    I think the real issue is that whole the bishops seem happy to speak out with great long letters (which no-one will read anyway) about politics. When did they last write a 57 page letter to CofE churches about doctrine, or the Bible, or liturgy?

    If they don’t do their primary task then it is no surprise people get cross when they do something else,even if they should also be doing it (though maybe not in quite the way they have). Do note, I have no problem with them saying don’t vote for parties that have pushed the expansion of abortion, or plan to allow ‘assisted dying’.

    • Watchman

      If we add to that list of parties who have promoted legislation which flies in the face of God’s purpose for mankind we will be left with no one for whom we can vote. I think you’ll find that the three main parties are responsible for everything to which a Christian should not put his name: same sex marriage, separating sowing from reaping, encouraging covetousness and envy, worshiping self and money rather than God, murdering children in the womb and a thousand more calumnies. Clergy should be practising not being of this world and bringing a message of salvation and repentance, not political fudge and compromise with evil. Pray for the politicians by all means but don’t collude with them and encourage us to vote for them.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Also, we should note that the Green Party argued for all the ungodly laws promulgated by the other parties, even before the others put them into law.

        • Phil R

          My wife was a member of the green party when i met her. She joined i am sure simply to irritate her parents and because her friends were members.

          When i bought a vw camper she covered it in CND stickers and save the whale etc. What surprised me was the level of unwarranted antagonism that just a few stickers provoked in her wealthy and very Tory home town.

          The Greens policies are barking, but they are also different. That is both their appeal and the danger

  • Inspector General

    Did you know the official name for North Korea is the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”.

    Hmmm. Shouldn’t have mentioned the North Korea bit. Lefty bishops might want to have visited there. After all, the name is wonderful. ‘Democratic’. Oh joy of joys, scream these bishops. Why can’t we have that in the UK and proscribe UKIP. ‘People’. Yes Yes Yes, it’s all about the people of course. Jesus was for the people so he was, and the Democratic People’s churches must be wonderful places to see.

    We can’t take politics out of the Church of England. That’s one smelly comfort blanket that’s too wrapped around it to even try. But we can take the Bishops out of the Lords. For what reason? Well, just for jolly. For spite. For the sake of the democracy they hold so dear and the will of an increasingly secular people who’d rather they weren’t there, and religious types like the Inspector, who has grown to loathe their presence in that house.

  • Anton

    A lifetime ago the CoE was known satirically as “the Tory party at prayer”. Today it is the Labour party at prayer. I must say that if any denomination has the right to be political it is the Established church, but it is a great shame that it is always so one-sided.

  • IanCad

    I was quite preparedf to give it a fair shake. After all, Carl, couldn’t finish it – but he is American. I was sure that I was made of sterner stuff. No!! A few paragraphs and I cried uncle.

    Whoever wrote such drivel? Were they paid?

    With the decline in congregations I do think it is time for church officials to take up the trowel, the paintbrush, the saw, and do some maintenance on our crumbling churches.

    • carl jacobs

      I’m beginning to think that the CoE is trying to be so broad that it can no longer say anything, because it no longer believes anything. “Some Anglicans belief this. Other Anglicans believe that. We should discuss it.” Spinach.

      • CliveM

        Carl

        I’m not sure the problem here is about the breadth of the CofE, rather the narrowness of outlook of the Bishops who represent it.

        I just wish for once they would say something interesting and perceptive. Rather it tends to be a soft and wet leftism.

        • carl jacobs

          Clive

          There is certainly a left-wing penumbra about this document. But if you read, you discover that it doesn’t say anything.

          • CliveM

            Agreed and that’s what I meant by a soft, wet, leftism,

            I wouldn’t want it, but the document might be better if it proposed a hard left manifesto, with a detailed programme.

  • Martin

    Perhaps the bishops should realise that they have a higher calling, to preach the gospel of mercy to the undeserving sinner. That’s if they know it themselves.

  • When Mrs Thatcher came to power the country was on its knees with
    corruption and the failings of a big state. Too much left wing
    nationalism, almost communism had taken hold and the country had
    ground to a halt.

    She was the much needed remedy, and things improved vastly.

    But, the situation has since swung in the other direction, unfettered
    capitalism and deregulated banks has given rise to massive fraud and
    corruption has risen again. We now have a corporatocracy instead of a
    democracy. A large amount of money is being hoarded by a very small
    amount of people who are either in cahoots with or dictating to
    government.

    Money needs to flow in a free market not a rigged market otherwise the
    economy eventually grinds to a halt. Enter UKIP hopefully.

    The Bishops are only trying to hold the government to account and put
    across their suggestions in their own way from the issues they see on
    the ground in their world. Although I did find the 56 pages rather
    tedious to plough through, (they could have said it in less than
    half.) They do have a place in the House of Lords.

    Keiser Report E719 Benefit cheats and HSBC

    • Aaron D Highside

      The Keiser Report? You aren’t serious?

      • Max and Stacey Keiser are industr

        • Aaron D Highside

          Thank godness for that – you aren’t serious. George Galloway indeed! By the way, you do know that this dotty site, RT.com (Russia Today) is Moscow-funded propaganda?

          • Yes Aaron I do know, RT and all their sister channels – have you watched “Going Underground”? – are a welcome balance. It;s interesting to watch different countries’ state funded TV news channels as well as independent blogs and news channels only then can one follow what is actually happening rather than what we are told from our own biased news channels. Our news is very pro American on the international sidie and if they have an agenda we follow it and pump out the same propaganda.

  • sarky

    Lets be honest, who cares? This letter is not going to make the slightest difference to how people vote. Bit like turkeys protesting against Christmas.

  • len

    Cannot believe I am defending’ the church’ whilst most others seem to be attacking it?.
    The State Church has been sleeping for a long time and has allowed secularists to creep in and deposit all sorts of stuff in the crypt and perhaps now some of the elderly gentlemen of the Church have been shaken and the cobwebs blown off them and are gazing around wondering what is happening ?.
    Here`s hoping anyway…..The church needs encouraging otherwise it will disappear back into that dusty crypt again…..

  • Uncle Brian

    The “neither Attlee nor Thatcher” premise smells suspiciously like a Third Way approach, “beyond Left and Right”, which in today’s party-political environment would tend to accentuate the withering away of Labour’s Scottish vote, with the SNP gaining ground, and in England the defection of Labour and Tory voters alike to Ukip. In the event that the General Election results in a House of Commons in which no two parties together have enough MPs to form a workable coalition, it may even occur to some politicians, on the left as well as the right, to put the blame on the Anglican bishops for failing to take a clear-cut stand against Ukip when they had the chance.

  • I read very fast (went on an effective reading course once) and I have read all 52 pages.

    My greatest concern is its banality. An unbeliever/skeptic reading this to find out what the Cof E stood for might conclude ‘The shower that produced this drivel about earthly matters cannot possibly have anything to say worth my listening to about God.’

    It would have been more to the point if they had simply asked Christians to pray about the election.