Justin Welby: British values ‘increasingly disconnected’ from Christian heritage

The Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised Government defined ‘British values’ as being based on “revisionist secularism”.

Justin Welby said that the values are “not properly embedded” in the Christian heritage of the country.

He made the comments as he led a House of Lords debate on the topic of “shared values underpinning our national life”.

Resilient heritage

The Government defines fundamental British values as “democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs”.

Archbishop Welby said that these values seem “increasingly disconnected from our historical narratives” and are “not properly embedded in the heritage of our country”.

He cited the parable of the good Samaritan as a reminder that British values emerged “not from a vacuum but from the resilient and eternal structures of our religious, theological, philosophical and ethical heritage”.


The Archbishop stated that if the Government’s version of British values “are not grounded in an understanding of how we came to be who we are, they will remain an insubstantial vision with which to carry the weight of the challenges of the 21st century”.

He went on to back recent comments from Theresa May in Parliament about the importance of Christians being able to share their faith in the workplace.

Last week, the Prime Minister said the UK has a “very strong tradition” of “religious tolerance and freedom of speech”, and added that our “Christian heritage is something we can all be proud of”.

Free speech

She said: “I am sure we would all want to ensure that people at work do feel able to speak about their faith, and also feel able to speak quite freely about Christmas”.

Archbishop Welby told the House of Lords: “Unsurprisingly, I am very much in favour of speaking openly but sensitively, as the Prime Minister has both supported and done recently in her own workplace.”