THE Archbishop of Canterbury has defended the House of Bishops'
pastoral letter on the forthcoming General Election by saying that
the Church has an obligation to get involved in politics.
Speaking at the conference "Love Your Neighbour: Think,
pray, vote", organised by the Joint Public Issues Team of the
Baptist Union, Methodist Conference, and United Reformed Church, in
Coventry at the weekend, Archbishop Welby said that it was a
"completely false distinction" to separate the gospel from
Quoting a 19th-century slum priest in the East End of
London, he said: "If you love Jesus Christ, you will care about
He continued: "The business of proclaiming the Good News
of the saving love of Jesus Christ . . . and the business of
seeking to transform society go absolutely together. They are
indistinguishable. They are literally the two sides of the same
coin. You do one, you do the other."
But he warned Christians not to get drawn into what he
called "miserablism", a sense that "we are only really happy as
Christians when things are really bad."
He praised a number of government successes, including
reducing unemployment. "If we believe that worklessness is
corrosive to the human spirit, then we should be thankful that
unemployment, over the last seven years since 2008, has been much
lower than we expected", he said.
"There have been appalling social problems . . . but let
us be thankful and rejoice that the forecast in 2008, that said we
would have 3.5 or 4 million unemployed, never came
He also praised the Government's commitment to spending
0.7 per cent of GDP on international development aid; its Modern
Slavery Bill, which is due to receive its Report-stage reading in
the House of Lords tomorrow; and its work on ending sexual violence
"I am not saying this to get myself out of trouble," he
said, "but because I do believe in being fair. And that if we are
going to talk about justice and involvement in politics, we can't
go in saying simply because someone wears a certain badge on their
lapel, that they are therefore bad. That is not what Jesus did. So
let us celebrate what we should celebrate."