March 2007

I was really disappointed by the process by which the SORS legislation was propelled through Parliament. Whatever you think of the legislation itself, the process, both here and in Nortern Ireland, certainly seemed lightweight on consultation.

This is legislation that starts to erode the rights of people to exercise their conscience in matters of belief and moralilty. The inclusion agenda, now driven apparently by a secular worldview, has become what it originally sort to undermine: the exercise of raw power of one group over another.

Inclusion is, to some extent, a concept that is in the “eye of the beholder”. It is now obvious what was previously implicit: that the most inclusive agendas can become plainly exclusive. It can feel like a tool of the kind of fundamentalism that we are all working to undermine.

Of course, I am aware that there have been seasons of history when the Church exercised raw power over the powerless – and I certainly would not want a return to those days! However, there is abundant evidence that the faith groups’ concern for the poor and powerless in our world is without question. You might think therefore that our right to stand against issues that are not in line with our conscience and teaching might be carefully considered, before being ridden over roughshod in such a non-consultative way.

I hope we are a long way from “thought police” government. Suddenly it seems a little closer.


Today is the trident debate in Parliament.  I have been one of those people, together with a number of Church leaders nationally and locally who has been lobbying against the replacement of the Trident Missile system.  There are various reasons for my thoughts on this.

Firstly, as a Christian, I find the use of weapons of mass destruction to be inconsistent with the life and witness of Jesus Christ.  The kind of destruction that today’s nuclear weapons would wreak is surely unnacceptable to anyone who has an ethical bone in their body.  The deterrent argument assumes a level of rational and responsible thinking, which in the current global political climate, can no longer be assumed, not least in the Middle East.  What right do we have to be telling Iran what to do when we are about to re-arm ourselves?

Secondly, the costs involved, although they would constitute only 1% of our GDP are still colossal.  Such resources could be better used to build a safer world by doing more to aid the world’s poor and marginalised.  From what I read, some of that money could be better used in making sure that the our current armed forces have the right equipment for the job and housing of a good standard.

Thirdly, you can’t help but feel that somehow, ‘being a nuclear power’ is exactly that.  It is about raw power and carries with it the pathetic inference if you want to be a ‘big boy’ in the arena of global politics you have to have a nuclear arsenal.  This is surely adolescent.  How much more mature to take a stand on what is right and to do all we can to rid the world of these appalling weapons.

Who said Bishops never speak up?