Ques­tions of faith

Yorkshire Post - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -

THIS HAS been a chal­leng­ing week for the Church of Eng­land. A new sur­vey pointed to an “un­re­lent­ing de­cline” in the num­ber of peo­ple who as­so­ci­ate them­selves with the CoE – and now the Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury’s speech to the TUC Congress has left the Right Rev­erend Justin Welby vul­ner­a­ble to the charge of hypocrisy.

From the pil­grim­ages – and pub­lic ap­pear­ances – un­der­taken by the in­com­pa­ra­ble Arch­bishop of York to the un­seen, and of­ten un­her­alded, work un­der­taken by clergy in local parishes, the Church re­mains a com­mit­ted cham­pion of the poor and fam­ily val­ues in this coun­try as a by-prod­uct of its spir­i­tual mis­sion.

By stray­ing so far into the sphere of pol­i­tics, and ap­pear­ing to as­so­ci­ate the Church so closely with Labour’s agenda, Mr Welby risks alien­at­ing those who would pre­fer to the Church to fo­cus on is­sues of faith and its good deeds at a local level. Hav­ing crit­i­cised firms like Ama­zon for pay­ing “al­most noth­ing” in taxes, his de­fence of the de­ci­sion of Church Com­mis­sion­ers to invest in the on­line gi­ant is awaited with in­ter­est. If he be­lieves the CoE is us­ing its sta­tus to in­flu­ence the de­bate about the cor­po­ra­tion’s business ethics, he should make the pos­i­tive case.

And, at the same time, Mr Welby does need to be more en­light­ened when it comes to the gig econ­omy. Zero-hours con­tracts are not nec­es­sar­ily the “rein­car­na­tion of an an­cient evil”. There are many in­stances when they do, in fact, suit an in­di­vid­ual’s em­ploy­ment needs. And there will be cases when they al­low, for ex­am­ple, the Church to give a sec­ond chance to a re­formed of­fender. Per­haps the Arch­bishop will now recog­nise this be­fore some have fur­ther rea­son to ques­tion their faith in him.

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