At a time of recession and damaged trust in MPs Britain needs reminding of its Christian foundations, warns the Bishop of Rochester.
Bishop Michael Nazir Ali says the turmoil created by the MPs’ expenses scandal has come about because of the loss of a moral “touchstone”.
“No wonder everyone has been doing what is right in his own eyes and to their own advantage”, the Bishop writes in a new article for Standpoint magazine.
Similarly, the financial crisis can be traced to an “entrepreneurial free-for-all and winner takes all tradition” which has replaced Christian values of “responsibility, honesty, trust and hard work”, the Bishop says.
He suggests family breakdown, abortion and the push to allow assisted suicide as further symptoms of the same collective amnesia.
The “full frontal attack” on the biblical definition of the family in recent years has led to “social devastation”, he argues.
Yet people “are simply not told about the foundations on which their society is built”, he says.
Among memories the Bishop believes need to be recovered are the “tradition of civil liberties set in train by the Magna Carta, the Reformation’s insistence on direct access to the sources of the authority (the Scriptures) for everyone, the Counter-Reformation’s missionary zeal, the Christian origins of ‘natural rights’ language, campaigns to abolish the slave trade and slavery, to restrict working hours and to improve working conditions for men, women and children, universal education, the emergence of nursing as a profession, the hospice movement and much else besides”.
This would form “the basis for an engagement with contemporary issues whether these have to do with fundamental liberties, the inclusion of the marginalised, the care of the sick or concern for the poor, whether in this country or abroad”, the Bishop concludes.