As somebody who voted conservative (and who attends and Anglican church) I find it mildly amusing that the Archbishop believes that no-one voted for what the government is doing. (He has guest edited the New Statesman.) On the contrary dear Rowan, on the contrary.
The good thing about all this is that ABC has spoken out, and about time too. He has made some statements about single issues–Iraq is one example, gay marriage in churches another (though that was in private)–but never a full on, broad brushstrokes and so public a statement. But I think it’s a shame that he attacked the Big Society project despite knowing full well what it is about and after having supported it not too long ago.
Of course the aftermath of this is going to be big. Thankfully Theos, the public theology think tank have prepared a report on the role of Archbishops in politics and are “preparing a presser” to launch the report as I write this. Quite timely really. Geniuses actually.
But in some corners the Archbishop is not getting enough credit. Church Mouse is blogging that his words are being deliberately misunderstood, again. But I think Mouse fails to understand that the Archbishop and his advisers knew exactly what they where doing, and that every word was chose deliberately and with care. They are about fostering debate, and the British Humanist Association and the National Secularist Society are the ones who have just been hit the hardest. When christians stay silent, the void is filled with the rest.
Tory politics can withstand the criticisms made by the Archbishop because many of them have also been informed by smart Theologians with good political nous. The question is rather more about whether there will be a real committment by the Conservatives to deliver what they have promised. David Milliband has said the Big Society should be something Labour embrace. Seems like a consensus is emerging. Lets hope that we will not be disappointed.