Bishop implies UK gun crime is a result of secularism

Rhys JonesThe Church of England website Religious Intelligence reports that the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev Graham Dow, (yes he who blamed Britain’s floods this year on pro-gay legislation) is now suggesting that the tragic murder of Liverpool schoolboy Rhys Jones is the direct result of the country’s low religiosity.

In an open letter to his diocese he wrote that

“the Government has highlighted respect as a key issue which our society faces in the hope that this will bring about change. But respect will not come just by talking about it….I was in discussion recently about these issues with someone who declared herself to be an atheist. Her answer to the problem was education. Proper education, she insisted, will direct people in right paths.

Note that he specifies that she was an atheist

When I said to her that she was ignoring the Christian history from which our values have come, I could see her anger was beginning to rise. Many people think like her – that better education will solve the problems.

But that ignored the fundamental Christian truth that we are by nature sinful and need to be changed – on the inside, says Bishop Dow.

And to ignore the Christian faith is to ignore the way to inner change….People do not like to hear that so much of what we cherish in our society has come with our Christian history and that by ignoring Christian faith we are undermining the very values we want to keep.

Not only does this opportunism make the Bishop sound like he’s playing the worst political games with a terrible event but it’s untrue – religious belief actually correlates with high murder rates (not to mention abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published in the Journal of Religion and Society in 2005).

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2 responses to “Bishop implies UK gun crime is a result of secularism

  1. I agree, it’s an opportunistic and facetious argument.

    Yes, the UK was predominantly Christian for most of the period of European Christendom. But to assert that therefore we owe religion for our morality is daft. Every society has some moral system, whichever religion is predominant or if the country is secular or pluralistic, so implicating Christianity as if that particular mythology alone can be responsible for morality, for change, for “respect”, or for social ethics, is frankly ignorant.

    I agree with the woman that “better education will solve the problems” — or at least that it can help towards finding solutions anyway. The bishop objects on two counts, first that people “need to be changed – on the inside”, which isn’t actually an objection at all because obviously education (whether autonomous or in community) is one way of people changing inside. And secondly he asserts “the fundamental Christian truth that we are by nature sinful”. Now, I thought the man from Nazareth was supposed to have cleaned the sheet somewhat? But passing over that, it’s still an assertion of a metaphysical nature, which the secular can interpret in terms of human fallibility, which is fair enough, or perhaps dismiss it as an overly simplistic and misleading statement about human nature, which we know is at least in part social and amenable to self-sacrifice and community living.

  2. Never mind that the USA which is full of righteous religiosity has an enormous gun problem, and that many religious people are passionate supporters of the NRA, and that “christian” USA accounts for 48% of the worlds armaments trade.

    Meanwhile the title of the hymn says it all: Onward Christian Soldiers.

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