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Letters to the Editor

by
13 May 2016

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Christian Concern article ‘does not speak for us’

From the Chief Executive of the Church Army, the Bishops of Southwark, Chelmsford, Woolwich, Willesden, and Beverley, the Prolocutor of the Convocation of Canterbury, the Dean of Southwark, and seven others

Sir, — We are concerned about the article “Londonistan with Khan?” which was recently published by Christian Concern. The article recycles allegations that try to align the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, with Islamic extremism, and suggest that his term as Mayor will see increased radicalisation and segregation in London.

The article even makes the ridiculous assertion that Mr Khan would not support the police upholding the law in Muslim areas. This is ill-informed, dangerous, and wrong. It echoes some of the dog-whistle politics of the recent mayoral election campaign, and neither understands the different strands of Islam nor the character and integrity of Sadiq Khan.

He has shown time and time again he is committed to inclusion, and he has shown courage and strength in the face of such ill-informed intolerance. We wish him well as Mayor. We were encouraged that his first act as Mayor was to hold his signing in ceremony in Southwark Cathedral rather than City Hall, showing his commitment to being a Mayor for the whole city.

We are Christian leaders who are passionate about helping communicate the good news of Christ to London and the whole of the UK, and we want to express our anger with both the content and the tone of this Christian Concern article. We believe this is deeply damaging to the cause of the gospel in London, and damaging to the good work of many parishes working for inclusion and harmony in local communities.

Christian Concern do not speak for us or the majority of Christians in England. We encourage them to apologise to Mr Khan for this article. It is time to ensure that no one can ever think that Christian Concern speak for the Church of England. They don’t.

MARK RUSSELL, CHRISTOPHER SOUTHWARK, STEPHEN CHELMSFORD, MICHAEL WOOLWICH, PETER WILLESDEN, GLYN BEVERLEY, ANDREW NUNN, SIMON BUTLER, LUCY WINKETT, SAM WELLS, STEPHEN HOGG, PETER OULD, GILES GODDARD, TIM HIND, ANGUS RITCHIE

c/o Church Army

Wilson Carlile Centre

50 Cavendish Street

Sheffield S3 7RZ

 

BNP’s claim that it is endorsed by Primate

From Vasantha Gnanadoss and 13 others

Sir, — We are concerned that the British National Party website continues to assert “Archbishop of Canterbury endorses BNP”, and that Lambeth Palace has issued no public correction. As you point out in your editorial comment (6 May), the Archbishop’s defence of people who are concerned about immigration has given comfort to the far Right.

This was evident during the election campaign for the Mayor of London, when election addresses from all candidates were sent to every London household by the Returning Officer. The BNP candidate expressed delight at the Archbishop’s words, and the Britain First candidate linked his racist plans with the promotion of Christianity.

For Lambeth Palace to remain silent surely risks allowing this to be one of those seemingly small episodes that, none the less, could prepare the ground for a triumph of evil.

VASANTHA GNANADOSS, LINDA WATTS, MICHELE SIMONS, NICOLE MARRIOT, SURESH RAMBARAN, RUBY RAMBARAN, JIM JELLEY, KENNETH OBI, D. C. PREMRAJ, DEBORAH PREMRAJ, ADITHYA DAVID PREMRAJ, AMRUTHA VASTHI PREMRAJ, IVOR SMITH-CAMERON, ALAN GADD

c/o 242 Links Road

London SW17 9ER

 

Amnesty International and the Irish abortion law

From the Revd James Paice, the Revd Nigel Atkinson, and 36 others

Sir, — We are concerned that we continue to receive leaflets inside the Church Times from an organisation that purports to be a “voice for the voiceless” and yet is relentlessly pushing for the killing of the most vulnerable in our society in Ireland.

We regard this as inconsistent on the part of the Church Times, which has a noble record of standing up for the powerless. We call upon you to cease giving support to Amnesty International until such time as it is as sensitive to the need to eradicate the killing of preborn children as it is to defending the rights of other vulnerable human beings.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31. 8-9); ‘”Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1.5).

JAMES PAICE, NIGEL ATKINSON, JOHN TELFORD, PETER SANLON, NEIL BARBER, TREVOR JOHNSTON, IAN FLETCHER, THOMAS WOOLFORD, ADAM YOUNG, PETE MATTHEW, STEPHEN WATKINSON, JAMES OAKLEY, ROHINTAN MODY, LEE GATISS, CARL CHAMBERS, GAVIN ASHENDEN, CHRIS SUGDEN, DANIEL NEWMAN, MIKE SMITH, TIMOTHY EDWARDS, PHILIP HIGHTON, JAMES TAYLOR, WILL PEARSON GEE, ROSS NORTHING, PETER OULD, LORNA ASHWORTH, DAN YOUNG, ANDREW GREENHOUGH, SIMON GALES, JOHN COOK, JAMES DURBIN, CHRIS COLLINS, JAMES GOODWIN HUDSON, PETER KANE, ANDY O’BRIEN, JOHN ELLISON, HON. RICHARD BROWN, PAUL BENFIELD

c/o St Luke’s Vicarage

28 Farquhar Road

London SW19 8DA

 

[The Amnesty International petition asks the Taoiseach to: “Repeal Article 40.3.3 (the Eighth Amendment) of the Irish Constitution, to enable the provision of a human-rights-compliant framework for abortion and information, in law and in practice; decriminalize abortion; repeal the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 and replace it with laws that ensure safe and legal access to abortion, at a minimum, in cases of rape, incest, risk to health or severe and fatal foetal impairment; and repeal the Regulation of Information (Services Outside the State for the Termination of Pregnancies) Act 1995 and any related censorship laws.” This would, in effect, bring Ireland into line with the UK law governing abortion.

A 2005 briefing paper by the Mission and Public Affairs Division states: “The Church of England combines strong opposition to abortion with a recognition that there can be — strictly limited — conditions under which it may be morally preferable to any available alternative.” The briefing paper also states: “Inevitably there will be differences of emphasis or opinion between individuals.”

It is on these grounds that the Church Times has accepted advertising from Amnesty International. The charity continues to highlight human-rights abuses of concern to our readers. The last leaflet, which appears to have triggered this protest, made no mention of abortion in Ireland, but instead focused on forced child marriage in Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone. Editor]

 

Anglicans, Lutherans, and the see of Rome

From the Bishop of Coventry

Sir, — In his recent article, “Wittenberg is closer to Rome” (Comment, 29 April), the Revd Alexander Faludy was right to note the significance of the Roman Catholic-Lutheran Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.

The Declaration has not gone unconsidered by the Anglican Communion. In its meeting this year, partly following an initiative of the Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England, the Anglican Consultative Council passed a resolution on the Joint Declaration that welcomed and affirmed it.

This resolution by ACC-16 is a timely reminder of the importance of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. It will, I hope, prompt further reflection on this vital doctrine in the Anglican Communion as we come to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.

CHRISTOPHER COVENTRY

Bishop’s House

23 Davenport Road

Coventry CV5 6PW

 

From Geoffrey Kirk

Sir, — My attention has been drawn to the Revd Alexander Faludy’s article “Wittenberg is closer to Rome”.

I have no objection at all to being called “eloquent”, but I think, in the interest of accuracy, I should point out to your readers that whatever attachment to the notion of a “bridge Church” I may ever have entertained ceased when the bridge was swept away in the disastrous storm of 11 November 1992. Thereafter, in the company of many others (and with the generous help of Pope Benedict), I swam the Tiber, unbridged.

I trust that others of my Protestant friends will make the same journey — and receive the same welcome.

GEOFFREY KIRK

60 Burnt Ash Road

London SE12 8PY

 

Consistory court’s costs ruling in Hanworth case

From the Revd Paul Williamson

Sir, — The Chancellor and the Deputy Chancellor of London diocese use the word “reasonable” with abandon (News, 29 April).

We submitted papers that suggested that the churchyard at St George’s, Hanworth, is truly of greater extent than at present. These documents were examined by the Archdeacon of Middlesex, the property department of the diocese, and our PCC. All concluded that there was a case to answer for approximately a further 30 feet of consecrated land.

We engaged a chartered surveyor who came to the conclusion, after his extensive survey, that this was a possible interpretation of the 1878 estate map that had been produced as a measured survey for a sale.

We were refused permission to speak on the 1933 aerial photographs that show no boundary whatsoever, though the council later put in a boundary and claimed the land at the Land Registry. The estate map and pictures showing burials and the extent of the churchyard were likewise refused as evidence.

Because we have been categorised as unreasonable, we are faced with £10,000 costs when a consistory court usually does not award costs to either side when such a case is brought to determine a boundary.

We have acted with caution, and due reason, and after consultation. We did not employ legal assistance, for lack of funds. Where were we unreasonable?

PAUL WILLIAMSON

The Rectory, 7 Blakewood Close

Feltham TW13 7NL

 

Mind your languages

From Anne Greig

Sir, — Mr J. P. Hudson’s letter (6 May) left me wondering which parts of Wales he has visited to suggest that there should be bilingual services here. The Archbishop of Wales and all the Bishops encourage not only bilingual services, but also bilingual notice boards, posters, and advertising material, although it is noticeable that some of the Welsh vacancies in the Church Times are monolingual.

It is my view that where English prevails to the detriment of Welsh in the Church in Wales, it is due both to respect and to lack of it. Welsh people pay far too much respect to English laziness, whereby incomers claim to be unable to learn the language of the nation in which they now live, despite its once being the language of Britain.

On the other side, the English lack of respect for this language is shown by the countless English people who not only refuse to learn Welsh (“because everyone speaks English”), but on occasion become actively hostile to it.

This is a bilingual country. We all need to access both languages, and Welsh is deemed a great deal easier to learn than English-as-a-second-language.

After the day of Pentecost, everyone heard the gospel in their own language, and those who are Welsh-speakers born and bred have every right to that privilege. Usually, though, they don’t demand it, even though Welsh is “the language of heaven”.

ANNE GREIG

Bodawen, Llangrannog

Llandysul, Ceredigion SA44 6SH

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