The Simon Barrow Column

Reflecting on how Christian political imagination can help change society's agenda. Follow Simon on Twitter here: www.twitter.com/simonbarrow

  • 23 Jan 2013

    This week (20 January 2013) the thinktank Demos (“ideas and action to promote the common good”) has published its report Faithful Providers, which argues that faith-based organisations should be used more as public service providers. Simon Barrow offers an initial response, highlighting some of the problematic assumptions and stances within the report, setting out the background to successive government's interest in co-opting faith providers, and pointing towards a more radical Christian stance which roots service in a tradition of modelling and advocating a different social order based on justice and equality.

  • 7 Dec 2012

    The assertion that “those at the top and those at the bottom are being hit hardest” by the government's austerity policies suggests a misleading equivalence, says Simon Barrow. In reality it is those with least who are being punished most.

  • 27 Nov 2012

    Setting the Church of England free would be in its own interests, says Simon Barrow, as the disestablishment debate rears its head again following the General Synod debacle over women bishops. The Christian religion’s claim to truth and authority resides neither in state nor market, but in systems of belief and community which it should be capable of developing through bodies that are part of civic society.

  • 23 Nov 2012

    Judging from the volumes of media coverage and online comment the goings on at this week's General Synod have generated, popular nerves have definitely been touched. But of what kind and to what effect? Simon Barrow explores the case for establishing the independence of church and state, in this article looking at the issue primarily in terms of societal pluralism, but noting the theological concerns which are actually central to the case Ekklesia wishes to make for disestablishment.

  • 3 Nov 2012

    There is room for real, substantial reform to the EU budget and many other aspects of the functioning and policy of European institutions, says Simon Barrow. But to address these issues properly, Britain’s political leaders should abandon rather than feed the narrow Westminster mindset that the recent EU budget row exemplifies.

  • 9 Oct 2012

    With 'the big three' parties all singing from the same austerity hymn sheet and promising cuts in social security that differ mainly in degree, says Simon Barrow, it is surely the most vulnerable in society who are set to be the biggest losers from the conference season political jamborees.

  • 1 Oct 2012

    Now that the medals have long been awarded, the plaudits made and the ceremonies completed, the final Olympic and Paralympic contest is underway, notes Simon Barrow. Who will claim political gold in the much-publicized Games ‘legacy’ race?

  • 2 Sep 2012

    In 2011, the International Panel on the State of the Oceans (IPSO), representing all marine science bodies, concluded that, “the world’s ocean is at high risk of entering a phase of extinction… unprecedented in human history.” Simon Barrow explores the issue of water from a biblical perspective.

  • 22 Aug 2012

    As government becomes more technocratic and anonymous, and as recession and financial chaos makes people angry and suspicious towards the political class, the need to be seen to be “where people are” and to shape public mood through cultural activity large and small is here to stay, says Simon Barrow.

  • 16 Aug 2012

    Last week, Jubilee Scotland organised a conversation on economic alternatives and motivating people for change at the 2012 Festival of Spirituality and Peace. Here Simon Barrow revisits an earlier article he wrote for The Guardian on the real meaning of "jubilee".

  • 16 Jun 2012

    The final standoff between St George’s Tron and the Church of Scotland has been several years coming, says Simon Barrow. The way it is handled will also be a signal of how the Kirk sees its future, and how the debate on same-sex relations may resonate in more reluctant corners of the church when it returns to the General Assembly next year.

  • 9 Jun 2012

    The rejection of the Anglican Covenant by the Scottish Episcopal Church is another serious body blow for a measure which proponents say is about proper ecclesiastical order, but which detractors argue will impose narrow conformity on a denomination historically based on self-governance within its provinces. Simon Barrow looks to the background, history and significance of the latest manoeuvres.

  • 17 May 2012

    In the wake of the 2012 local elections and other recent developments, we can see that local democracy in England is in a perilous state. Voter apathy shows that. Simon Barrow looks at the issue in its wider context, and suggests that deep change is required that goes well beyond single-fix 'solutions'.

  • 30 Apr 2012

    Simon Barrow's speech on the need for an official government media inquiry, made to the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), meeting in Inverness from 23-25 April 2012. See notes and NUJ resolution below the text for further details.

  • 7 Apr 2012

    At present the symbolism of the Royal Maundy service in York ritualises economic inequality, the subservience of the Church to the Crown, and the sanctification of an unjust order, says Simon Barrow. Maybe a ritual re-ordering of it could help remind Christians, and the Established church, that we are called to oppose injustice and who who "act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus" (Acts 17.7)?