Love Takes Us Into Politics

by Gerry Lynch last modified 22 Oct, 2013 12:12 PM

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, has said the Christian duties to care for those in need and love unconditionally take the Church inevitably into the area of politics.

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, has said the Christian duties to care for those in need and love unconditionally take the Church inevitably into the area of politics.

Addressing a meeting in Bristol today organised by Churches in the South West to discuss responses to the food poverty crisis, he said that Scripture made clear the Christian duty to care for the vulnerable. Churches, rooted in every community and independent of public money, have a uniquely rich perspective to understand problems and speak out on them.

Excerpts from Bishop Nicholas’ speech follow.

“The care of those in need is a striking characteristic of Christianity. The stories of Matthew 25 and of God’s judgement are on the basis of our welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and the person in prison are an impetus to gratuitous pastoral care. This is not about care of the deserving poor.

“Love is about the care of individuals but it is also about the care of society. Love distributed is about justice and inevitably takes us into the area of politics and how the society is organised."

With reference to the 'bedroom tax', the Bishop said:

“One analysis shows the massive gap that would have to be overcome in the region if people were to be able to downsize to accommodation that would fit the new rules. In Wiltshire, there were no unoccupied one- and two-bedroom properties at all, for 2,953 affected households, though 48 were advertised as being available shortly.

“The impact of this welfare reform is now the subject of a welcome enquiry.

“It does seem very odd to be putting such pressure on the 2.2m who are unemployed when only 200,000 of them are long-term unemployed and there are only 400,000 unfilled job vacancies.

“What you see depends on where you stand and the Church has a unique position in being rooted in every community and of being independent of public money.

“In a society of payday loans, food and fuel poverty, increasing rents, high youth unemployment, and crisis situations arising from changes in benefits, our churches have a key role. We care for the individual and build hope in our communities by being like light, salt, yeast changing experience for the common good and renewing hope among those who feel desperate.”

The full text of the speech can be read here.

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