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Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby Accused of Hypocrisy

Updated on September 14, 2018
ethel smith profile image

With a keen interest in British politics this writer is never afraid to share her opinion

Christian Roots

Artistic interpretaion of Jesus casting out the money lenders
Artistic interpretaion of Jesus casting out the money lenders | Source

Religious Political Interference

This week the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has been headline news multiple times as he vocally stepped into the political arena.

Whether or not you agree with such a religious figure mixing it up politically is up to you but as the Archbishop of Canterbury he does have a seat in the House of Lords and therefore an official political voice.

The House of Lords is an un-elected body but its members do have the power to hold the government to account.

However people in glass-houses should never throw stones.

Friday the British media are sharing reports featuring Justin Welby but this time accusing him of hypocrisy.

Hypocrite?

Reading reports earlier this week about Justin Welby addressing the T.U.C. I sort of expected cries of hypocrisy to surface sooner or later.

The Church of England is worth an estimated $7.8 billion. It owns many buildings which could be used to ease the housing crisis or as temporary shelters for the homeless. It could in my opinion make a real positive difference to the lives of poorest and most vulnerable in our society but in the final analysis the Church of England is just another big business.

Justin Welby is the most senior bishop of that big business, the Church of England

Active members of that branch of Christianity look to the Archbishop for moral and spiritual guidance but where do they draw the political line?

The Archbishop’s flock will have many political colours which should perhaps limit his political activity or some would say interference. He may have political leanings but he must surely try to stay impartial?

This week Welby has-

  • Condemned zero-hour contracts in the U.K.
  • Criticized the gig economy
  • Verbally attacked the government‘s introduction of Universal Credit
  • Rebuked Amazon for its U.K. tax affairs
  • Addressed the Trade Union Congress

I have no problem with those five points. I agree with Justin Welby on all points but I am just an ordinary member of the public.

I heard alarm bells ringing in my head earlier this week as I read the various reports concerning the Archbishops’s activities.

In my opinion it is right that a British senior religious figure should speak out against poverty. Jesus pointed this way forward.

However stepping into the political arena in the 21st Century when you are representing a huge business, which the Church of England is in reality, you better have your house in order.

Friday a journalist broke the story that the Church of England has shares in Amazon

According to the Guardian in his T.U.C. speech earlier this week the Archbishop-

criticized firms such as Amazon for paying “almost nothing” in taxes, and branded the so-called gig economy and zero-hours contracts as “the reincarnation of an ancient evil”

Strong words but it did not take long for investigative journalists to find the Church of England advertising zero-hour posts via their website. News that the Church also has shares in Amazon has added to cries of hypocrisy.

Today representatives of the Church have publicly made excuses for investment in Amazon. They claim they can work for change from the inside but journalists quickly noted this is a new tack.

When the Archbishop criticized money lenders Wonga for excessively high interest rates it did not take long for details of the Church of England’s investment in Wonga to surface. The Church quickly dumped Wonga so why not dump Amazon?

Perhaps the answer lies here

In 2013 Justin Welby made a speech telling Wonga that he was going to pit them out of business by building up Credit Unions around the country which offer loans with next to nothing interest rates and no hidden charges.

Good to his word, I guess, in late August 2018 Wonga collapsed.

Wonga’s demise was helped along by the government introducing a cap on payday loan interest rates in 2015.

This highlights that the Archbishop of Canterbury does have political influence which sometimes pays off but that is a mixed bag. Also in 2013 Justin Welby spoke in defence of fracking plans for the U.K. which is a stance at odds with many of his flock.

Politicians, as the famous quote goes, cannot please us all but Welby is primarily a spiritual leader not a politician.

The latest report Friday in the Guardian says “Archbishop of Canterbury to lead Wonga rescue effort.”

Because there are always consequences.

Archibishop Justin Welby Addressing The T.U.C.

What do you think?

Is it hypocrisy?

See results

© 2018 Ethel Smith

Comments

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    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      2 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks Peggy. I always find religion and politics mixing a bit umsettling but it is usually limited involvement.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      2 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thank you Nick for reading and sharing your thoughts. I am a bit of an old cynic these days.

      I think Welby is a good man who finds his role difficult at times. His part of the etaalishment but then again he is not. His background is interesting and perhaps highlights that.

      At least he is not just another umelected fat cat in HoL

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      That is interesting to read. Thanks for sharing some of the politics in Great Britain and how it is sometimes mixed with religion as is the case with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

    • Nick Bishop profile image

      Nick Bishop 

      2 years ago

      I take your point about the C of E being a big business. Certainly, its stock of housing and land could be used to help the poor as Christ instructed.

      The Catholic church is another business similar to the Anglicans. Many of these televangelists dressed in their finery, bling and sparkling teeth are the same.

      Going back to the House of Lords it seems some good can come from the clergy being in what some see as a redundant institution.

      Archbishop Welby like the prophets of old foretold of the destruction of Wonga. So it has come to pass!

      Seriously though churches do help the poor. For example, look at food banks and other campaigns for the homeless, drug and alcohol addicted even to the environment. I can honestly say that the church has helped me when I needed them.

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