The best thing about the “letter” from the Anglican Bishops to give guidance to the faithful on the coming General Election is that at 52 pages hardly anybody will bother to read it: and if they do, they are likely to fall asleep!
It is perfectly acceptable for church leaders to engage with politics. Such is not just the permission of the Church’s teaching, it is its command. But, in the run up to a General Election, the date of which has been known for 5 years, we deserved better than this extraordinarily long, left-leaning tosh.
The letter concludes that it is “about building a vision of a better kind of world, a better society and better politics” (as every Miss World would inanely opine when accepting her trophy). That is more a challenge for the Bishops than it is for politicians. As a mirror to what the Church of England has itself achieved after so many years of its privileged public position, then it’s a grim reflection of the failure of that Church when measured by its own terms. As Work and Pensions Secretary, Ian Duncan Smith, who’s worked miracles to get the jobless back into work, observed wryly to Sky News: “when I heard the Bishops’ comments about alienation and dwindling relevance I thought they were talking about the Church of England congregations”.
Chris Whitehouse’s full analysis of the Bishops’ letter will be published in The Universe newspaper next week.