Thursday, 9 June 2011

Freedom of Speech, With Conditions

Lord Sugar does it. Educated kids do it. Even carpet sellers and estate agents do it. Let's do it. Let's speak our mind. 

1689 was a good year for Brits. Some law or another granted us the right to speak freely, within a given framework that is now designed to stop people from telling other people to kill yet more people. Let it be stated here, ladies and gentlemen, that killing people is wrong, and people who kill people will get their comeuppance - ya hear?!

Anyway - the thing is this. The Archbishop raised his bearded and extravagantly browed head above the parapet and now the world is in a little bit of a flap. See what Archbishop Rowan said here. This post is not meant to to comment on what he said to whom or why (and if you read this blog enough, you might guess anyway), but more about the reaction of the chattering classes. 

The reactions of an overwhelming number of people who have tapped their views online can be summed up in one such sentiment: "Mind your own business, preacher man". (I added punctuation where it was found to be lacking). 

In our world, we the Westerners are chasing around country by country promoting the ethics of democracy whether they want it or not. We are westernising the world, because of course we are the tippy-top best at everything and we should of course lead the world in the process of becoming more like us. Part of democracy is to do with free speech, until a Christian tries it. Some may say that the Archbishop of Canterbury is not elected, but neither is Lord Sugar or Vanessa Feltz. Some say that being God-botherers means that we are somehow opinion-amputees who should keep schtumm in the very world where we live. 


I pay tax and so does the jolly old Archbish. I would fear being in a world when the leader of an ethically based organisation was expected to be silent in the political arena. Priests are called to defend the poor and represent those in their care - and I fail to understand how commenting publicly about sincerely held concerns for society falls beyond that mandate. 

For my part, I am less worried about what ++Rowan said than I am delighted that he did. How would we regard a man who operates as a senior leader in 'God is Love Plc' who turned away and said nothing? Christians must be present in the debate, as should people of all faiths - because to remove them or silence them denies a facet of society that is, after all, quite important to a good many of us - and that is the spiritual aspect.

Maybe ++Rowan should go blonde, or start a programme called 'The Curate' - because perhaps then he could be accorded his own democratic rights without the fuss that we have seen today. 


  1. Just wonder why the media should be surprised that the ABC actually has a view on politics.

    They have obviously never heard of Pastoral Responsibility.

  2. Agree with him or not, Rowan Williams is Head of the Church of England, and like it or not, has every right to hold and express his views on any matter, secular or sacred.
    He is not the first "turbulent priest" to hold opinions contrary to the government of the day.
    Any attempt to muffle his voice would be in my opinion, a retrograde step at a time when many Christians are demanding their 'leaders' do just that.



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