Commenting on the launch of the Common Wealth network encouraging the churches to oppose government welfare and public spending cuts, Simon Barrow, co-director of the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia, which backs the initiative, said:
"There are signs that some churches, while expressing concern about the impact of current economic and social policies on the most vulnerable, are starting to buy into the government's 'Big Society' rhetoric in a way which could see self-interest taking the place of hard-headed analysis and a willingness to stand out for alternative practices, policies and values.
"The Common Wealth statement says that the 'Big Society' is an excuse for those with power and wealth to hide behind the social commitment of ordinary people which they played no part in creating, and whose financing they are actually threatening.
"Big does not mean 'just' or 'better'. The danger for the churches is that, in their rush to 'get involved' and achieve public recognition, they will be used to plug dangerous gaps in social provision which end up making people dependent on charity.
"Yet core Christian convictions are inimical to a society increasingly divided between haves and have-nots, and suggest that the role of the Christian community is to work for creative alternatives and build a just society rather than prop up a one-sided status quo."
* The Common Wealth statement can be read here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/CommonWealthStatement
* The full Common Wealth press release is at: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/13571
* Common Wealth website: http://commonwealthnetwork2010.blogspot.com/