The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has come out in favour of Britain remaining in the European Union.
I’m surprised that Justin Welby has taken a position in the referendum, and I would have thought that the most prudent course of action for a man in his position would be to remain neutral.
Justin Welby’s reasons for remaining in the EU seem to mirror the types of arguments put forward by groups like the Fabian Society, who support EU membership, and European Social Democratic parties, who are currently haemorrhaging support right across Europe. Support for centre-left social democratic political parties is at extraordinarily low levels, and across Europe extremist far right and far left parties are rising.
I reject the notion that membership of the EU is somehow in line with biblical principles. I understand that there are many Christians who do and will be proudly voting to remain in the EU, and I respect their opinions.
My relationship with Christianity over the years has been mixed. As a child I attended Sunday school at a Baptist Church and in my teens I stopped attending and became a big sceptic of Christianity. I attended a Catholic School and always enjoyed challenging my RE teacher about doctrines that I thought were illogical. I was drawn back into the Church after the death of a family member, and I’ve recently started attending a free Bible school course.
One of the subjects that interest me greatly is the conflict in Christendom about faith or good works.
The lecturer on my bible course talked about this issue last week. She used to attend a CoE Church and she explained that the main reason why she left the CoE is because although she did lots of good works including charity, food banks, helping to ring the Church bells, and all sorts of volunteering jobs, what she didn’t have was faith or a proper understanding of how to walk in faith and be guided by the Holy Spirit and she found that teaching in a non-denominational Church. The Church that the runs the free Bible course is non-denominational, and the pulpits are packed every Sunday with people of all ages and it has a thriving youth ministry.
I wonder if some Christian Socialists who promote a European superstate as a vehicle for heralding peace and justice are trying to find salvation through good works.
The ideals underpinning the EU are very lofty, somewhat elitist, very idealistic, and utopian in nature. Lofty, grand, earthly and utopian designs and schemes by elites have always ended up failing and causing far more suffering, division and hatred. The vision is far too divorced from the reality of the true nature of human beings.
Justin Welby talked of Jesus’s commandment to love thy neighbour. For many communities across Britain mass uncontrolled immigration represents a threat to their communities and neighbours. Many parents can’t afford to send their children to private schools, many people can’t afford private health care insurance, and many British working class on low wages are unhappy at a political elite who seemed determined to throw them under the bus.
Maurice Glasman has often lamented the tendency of Labour to worry more about the poor abroad while unable to connect with the needs of the poor outside of the M25 and disadvantaged communities up North. Sadly Justin Welby’s arguments in The Mail On Sunday remind me more of New Labour philosophies than of actual biblical principles.
The European project is sowing division and harming social cohesion. Continued problems in the Eurozone, rising unemployment in Southern Europe, and rising tensions caused by mass uncontrolled immigration can only continue. If we remain in the European Union, disenchantment with politics and a breakdown of trust in communities will continue to rise.
Justin Welby really should have remained neutral in the EU referendum. Attendance rates at CoE Churches are already low and I suspect that his support for remaining in the EU will be harmful in the long-run and will result in an even more dwindling number of people worshipping in the pews.