Archbishop says Britain is not a Christian country - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
December 13, 2004

Archbishop says Britain is not a Christian country

-13/12/04

The second most senior Anglican in England has suggested that Britain can not be considered a Christian country.

In an admission that the church no longer reaches large sections of the population, David Hope, the Archbishop of York, said: ìIíd be a bit hard pushed to say we were a Christian country.î

The remarks were made during an interview for BBC1ís Breakfast with Frost programme.

Asked by Sir David Frost whether he believed Britain was Christian, he replied: ìI think I really want to question that.

Large numbers of people describe themselves as believing in God. Large numbers still would say that they are Christian. How they then express that Christianity has changed enormously.î

Hope, who will leave office in February to work as a parish priest in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, blamed ìsecularist tendenciesî for the countryís abandonment of Christianity. ìCommitment to the Christian church is less than it was,î he admitted.

Hope said he acknowledged that some Christians find the doctrine of the virgin birth difficult, but argued that belief in the resurrection was essential for faithful followers of the Christian religion.

Hope also stepped into the debate over David Blunkett, the home secretary. He said Blunkettís affair raised serious questions about the publicís trust in politicians and said there was a link between private conduct and public office.

ìI donít think itís quite so easy to have clear blue water between what you might call the private and the public,î he said, adding: ìThe one impinges upon the other.î He continued: ìIntegrity seems to me quite crucial here. One senses people are beginning to feel ëhow can you trust?í, ëwhat about integrity?í I think those are big moral questions for us.î

Hope was the only senior cleric in Britain to support the war in Iraq but said that he regretted it now. He also expressed disappointment about the misleading information given to the public before the invasion.

He said he had become disillusioned because of the failure to find weapons of mass destruction. He had based his theological justification for the war on the now discredited claim that Saddam Hussein could launch weapons within 45 minutes.

The Archbishop has previously called for coalition forces to put as much energy into reconstructing Iraq as they had into toppling Saddam Husseinís regime.

Frost asked Hope why, if Britain is not a Christian country, is Tony Blair choosing his successor as archbishop. Hope played down the Prime Minister's role saying that it was confined to choosing only between two names submitted by the Crown Nominations Commission, in which the church played the main part.

Dr Hope also repeated his warnings and concerns about a schism opening up over homosexuality. He has previously urged conservatives to "stop, look and listen".

The Archbishop, who has supported compromise plans over the consecration of women Bishops, another divisive issue for the church, said the unity of the church was fundamentally important.

Archbishop says Britain is not a Christian country

-13/12/04

The second most senior Anglican in England has suggested that Britain can not be considered a Christian country.

In an admission that the church no longer reaches large sections of the population, David Hope, the Archbishop of York, said: ìIíd be a bit hard pushed to say we were a Christian country.î

The remarks were made during an interview for BBC1ís Breakfast with Frost programme.

Asked by Sir David Frost whether he believed Britain was Christian, he replied: ìI think I really want to question that.

Large numbers of people describe themselves as believing in God. Large numbers still would say that they are Christian. How they then express that Christianity has changed enormously.î

Hope, who will leave office in February to work as a parish priest in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, blamed ìsecularist tendenciesî for the countryís abandonment of Christianity. ìCommitment to the Christian church is less than it was,î he admitted.

Hope said he acknowledged that some Christians find the doctrine of the virgin birth difficult, but argued that belief in the resurrection was essential for faithful followers of the Christian religion.

Hope also stepped into the debate over David Blunkett, the home secretary. He said Blunkettís affair raised serious questions about the publicís trust in politicians and said there was a link between private conduct and public office.

ìI donít think itís quite so easy to have clear blue water between what you might call the private and the public,î he said, adding: ìThe one impinges upon the other.î He continued: ìIntegrity seems to me quite crucial here. One senses people are beginning to feel ëhow can you trust?í, ëwhat about integrity?í I think those are big moral questions for us.î

Hope was the only senior cleric in Britain to support the war in Iraq but said that he regretted it now. He also expressed disappointment about the misleading information given to the public before the invasion.

He said he had become disillusioned because of the failure to find weapons of mass destruction. He had based his theological justification for the war on the now discredited claim that Saddam Hussein could launch weapons within 45 minutes.

The Archbishop has previously called for coalition forces to put as much energy into reconstructing Iraq as they had into toppling Saddam Husseinís regime.

Frost asked Hope why, if Britain is not a Christian country, is Tony Blair choosing his successor as archbishop. Hope played down the Prime Minister's role saying that it was confined to choosing only between two names submitted by the Crown Nominations Commission, in which the church played the main part.

Dr Hope also repeated his warnings and concerns about a schism opening up over homosexuality. He has previously urged conservatives to "stop, look and listen".

The Archbishop, who has supported compromise plans over the consecration of women Bishops, another divisive issue for the church, said the unity of the church was fundamentally important.

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