Cathedrals and human dignity
In the days before the Budget, some altruistic individuals were telling George Osborne via social media that if tax cuts were to be made at the expense of disabled people, then they personally did not want to benefit. Even right wing commentator Julia Hartley-Brewer of the Telegraph tweeted, "It is just plain wrong to cut disability benefits to fund tax cuts for the better off. End of story."
So it was disappointing today to see the Church of England Twitter account welcome the £20 million the Chancellor allocated to it for the repair and maintenance of cathedrals with no comment (at time of writing) about cuts leaving some disabled people afraid they will lose the help they need to go to the toilet or get dressed.
Cathedrals are beautiful, a joy to behold and an asset to many towns and cities. The church points out that they are increasingly a 'community hub'. But it would be a powerful gesture of solidarity with disabled people if the church could tell the Chancellor, as others have done, that they do not want to accept money at the expense of disabled people. If we can't afford human dignity, we can't afford cathedrals.
The church's current position does not look good in the eyes of many, and some Christians have made quite incisive comments. Author David Rhodes said, "Another Tory sweetener to keep uppity bishops quiet on #poverty #benefits ?? Thirty pieces of silver?" Anne Booth, also an author, said "I love cathedrals but I find it shocking that your twitter feed does not comment on budget's treatment of disabled"
Perhaps when the church has had time to absorb the searing injustice that runs through the whole Budget, it will comment and act accordingly. But at the moment, its public face on social media gives the impression that it is enjoying the benefits it has gained whilst giving little thought to the very unfortunate losers.
© Bernadette Meaden has written about political, religious and social issues for some years, and is strongly influenced by Christian Socialism, liberation theology and the Catholic Worker movement. She is an Ekklesia associate and regular contributor. You can follow her on Twitter: @BernaMeaden
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