Archbishop of Canterbury issues Easter challenge over ‘persecution’ claims

By staff writers
March 31, 2010

In an apparent challenge to the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey and other Anglican bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury has told church leaders to "keep their fears in perspective" over alleged 'persecution'.

In his ecumenical Easter Letter to fellow church leaders issued today (Wednesday 31st), Rowan Williams says that the response of Christians in the UK who are worried about the future should not be one of "anger or fear".

His message comes just a few days after a group of bishops, including the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, wrote to the Sunday Telegraph claiming that there had been “numerous dismissals of practising Christians from employment for reasons that are unacceptable in a civilised country.”

The claims, which have yet to be substantiated, were interpreted by the newspaper as calling “for an end to persecution of Christians in Britain.”

The former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, has recently publicly alleged that Good Friday processions might be banned.

Last year, writing in the Daily Mail, the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, branded the activity of some civil servants toward Christians "unacceptable" and "an affront". He said their behaviour toward Christians had been an "insult to their common sensibility but also a sign of a growing gap between the mindset of the governing and the governed."

But in an apparent challenge which refers to the plight of Christians experiencing persecution abroad, the Archbishop of Canterbury warns in his letter: “We who live in more comfortable environments need to bear two things in mind”.

“One is that fellow-Christians under pressure, living daily with threats and murders, need our prayers and tangible support – by personal contact, by continually reminding our governments and media of these things. To a Christian experiencing these threats, it matters more than most of us could imagine simply to know that they are not alone and not forgotten.

“But the second point to remember is that we need to keep our own fears in perspective. It is all too easy, even in comfortable and relatively peaceful societies, for us to become consumed with anxiety about the future of Church and society. We need to witness boldly and clearly but not with anger and fear; we need to show that we believe what we say about the Lordship of the Risen Christ and his faithfulness to the world he came to redeem.

“The world will not be saved by fear, but by hope and joy.”

You can read the full text of the letter here:


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