THE Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, has vigorously defended his
new book, which warns that parts of Britain are being left behind;
but he denied that the intervention amounted to an attack on the
Dr Sentamu said on Tuesday that the essays in his book On
Rock or Sand? (
News, 16 January) were a challenge to anyone considering
running the country, both ministers and Opposition alike.
Speaking at the book launch at Church House, in Westminster, he
said: "To those who say that the Church should not be involving
itself in such matters, I answer: 'My faith compels me to be
"Christianity [speaks to] how the world should be, and what
moral principles and virtues it should reflect. If church leaders
cannot speak and write about such matters, they cannot be true to
Last week, the Prime Minister said that he "profoundly
disagreed" with the book, which includes contributions from the
Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as researchers, theologians, and
Archbishop Welby's chapter argues that entire regions of the
nation are trapped in an economic downward spiral, while the
south-east booms. But Mr Cameron insisted that his Government was
not leaving anyone behind; instead, it was "rebalancing" the
"You can see real growth in cities like Birmingham and
Manchester and Leeds - indeed, some two-thirds over the last year
has come from outside London and the south- east," he told The
Daily Telegraph last week. "We are tackling poverty by giving
1.75 million more people a job in our country. Actually, under this
Government, inequality has fallen; so I don't think the picture
they paint is accurate."
Mr Cameron agreed that the Church had every right to speak out,
and that he looked forward to debating these issues in the build-up
to the General Election in May.
Dr Sentamu backed Archbishop Welby's critique, saying on Tuesday
that Christians could not be content in a world dominated by
"individualism and consumerism".
"What the financial collapse in 2008 should teach us is that we
were becoming obsessed with money. . . When money rules, we
remember the price of things and forget the value of things.
"In a curious way, a consumer society is a mechanism for
creating and distributing unhappiness."
He said that the answer could not simply be more spending on
welfare or creating more dependency on the State, but shifting the
underlying principles of society to those "of freedom, fellowship,
service of God and neighbour, and on the rule of law. These are the
rock, the firm foundations on which we can build a just,
sustainable, and compassionate society in which all can participate