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Scrap, but do not lie, Welby tells party leaders

29 November 2019

Election round-up: truth-telling, abortion, global persecution


Boris Johnson visits Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm, near Truro, on Wednesday

Boris Johnson visits Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm, near Truro, on Wednesday

PEOPLE need to be “super-careful” about the misuse of truth in the General Election, the Archbishop of Canterbury said on Wednesday.

In an interview on Radio 5 Live, Archbishop Welby said: “We have to use it ourselves. We have to be transparent. We have to call out misuse of truth. In any election campaign where there is misuse of truth . . . then we need to call it out.”

He said, however, that people should not “pretend that this is the first election campaign in which there has been manipulation of truth”. “Scrapping robustly” over facts was good politics.

He went on: “I don’t think there has been a rise in outright lies: I think we’re better at spotting them. . . You shouldn’t seek to mislead people, but nor should you debate in a way that makes other people our enemies. Other citizens of this country are not our enemies: they just have different views.”

It follows his and the Archbishop of York’s election message last week, which stated that voters should “set aside apathy and cynicism” and leave their “echo-chambers” in the run-up to the General Election (News, 22 November).

In the past week, all the parties have published their manifestos. Both the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats pledged to decriminalise abortion. (The Liberal Democrat move would not apply to Northern Ireland.)

In response, more than 380 people have signed an open letter to the Church of England’s bishops expressing “sincere concerns about what is being proposed”, and calling on the bishops “to do all you can to speak out against these proposals and in defence of some of the most vulnerable in our society”.

The letter says that the policy “would amount to a declaration that a foetus is no longer a human being”. The letter is written “in light of the C of E’s own teaching that it is strongly opposed to abortion”.

Of the 229 members of the clergy who have signed the letter, seven are female; a further 52 lay signatories are female.

The Archdeacon of London, the Ven. Luke Miller, wrote on Twitter that the abortion proposals were “wrong and should be vigorously opposed”.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto also pledges to enable “the Church of England and Church in Wales to conduct same-sex marriages”, in order to “complete the introduction of same-sex marriage”.

The removal of the C of E’s exemption from conducting same-sex marriages has previously been attempted in the House of Lords, but resisted (News, 8 March).

More globally, the Conservative Party’s manifesto promises that it will “seek to protect those persecuted for their faith and implement the Truro Review recommendations”.

In his report on Christian persecution across the world, the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, argued (News, 12 July) that the Government should aim to become “the global leader in championing freedom of religion and belief”.

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