LETTER: Church and its interventions

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I was interested to read the Thought (WSCT February 26th) submitted by The Rev’d Natalie Loveless, Vicar of St Leonard’s Church, Horsham in which she encouraged all those qualified to exercise their right to vote in the forthcoming national and local elections this coming May. That’s fine - with the caveat that clergy do not use the pulpit to proselytise in favour of any one particular party.

Back in the 1980s, I was privileged to participate in Archbishop Robert Runcie’s working party which produced a much criticised report, ‘Faith in the City’ - subtitled, ‘A Call for Action by Church and Nation’.

A number of Conservative back-bench MPs labelled the document as being ‘Marxist’. In my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth.

On one occasion, I accompanied a leading committee member, the then Dean of St Paul’s, The Very Rev’d Alan Webster, to a weekend conference held at the Sheffield Diocesan Centre where I had to deliver an address centered upon the considerable contribution made by the City of London to our economy in terms of ‘Invisible Earnings’.

My talk was not well received by the assembled clergy - most of whom clearly held left of centre views on the role of the financial City - conjuring up a vivid picture of a casino run by spivs!

I recall that on the Sunday, we visited the Orgreve coking plant for a service of reconciliation - conducted by Alan Webster. This was the scene of what can only be described as a vicious battle between striking miners and the police - drawn from forces throughout the country - which took place on 18th June 1984.

The toll in terms of casualties was considerable on both sides of this bitter conflict. To my mind, the effect of such action politicised our supposedly impartial police force. But doubtless there were rights and wrongs on both sides of the melee.

Anglican Bishops have recently circulated a pamphlet to all C of E churches setting out their views on major political topics - including the future of our Trident nuclear deterrent - which one understands could form the basis of a sermon in the lead up to the May General Election. It has already been labelled as being ‘naive’ by the tabloid press.

Based upon my previous experience, all I would wish to add is that Holy Writ - and the teachings of Jesus in particular - can be interpreted in a number of conflicting ways.

And the Church has already slipped up by recommending a review of the minimum wage - only to find that it does not meet its own criteria.

Perhaps the much maligned Jehovah’s Witnesses have got it right this time - they refuse to participate in politics of any kind. Just a thought!

ROBERT B. WORLEY

Bourns Court, Ayshe Court Drive, Horsham