The Bishop of Salisbury says Brexit has made the truth "slippery"

by Michael Ford last modified 27 Feb, 2019 03:51 PM

The Bishop of Salisbury has been making national headlines, talking about Sunday service provision in rural communities, the environment and Brexit.

Speaking to Diocesan Synod, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam said, said that because of Brexit “the truth has become slippery” and that “as a country we’ve got ourselves in a bit of a mess.”

Read his speaking notes here

“All across the world we are experiencing a rise in nationalism causing tension between the countries of the world. It is good to love one’s country. Patriotism matters because we have to love in the particular if we are to love in general. Charity begins at home but does not stop at home.

“For one reason or another at the moment it feels as though as a country we’ve got ourselves in a bit of a mess. What are we doing as a country?

“It feels as though truth has become slippery. There are ‘alternative facts’. But even if it is difficult to get it right, keep on being about the truth.

“That’s why it matters we challenge one another, and do so in love. And in such a divided debate, rather than slip into easy caricatures of the people with whom we disagree, take the trouble to represent the views of others at their best rather than worst, as accurately and fairly as we can.”

The Bishop said that he had been prompted to speak to Synod on the subject after being approached by a churchwarden who had “cried as she said she had never before felt ashamed to be British” and added that “we have lost our sense of values, especially in our failure to be more hospitable to migrants and refugees.”

The Bishop urged his Synod members, who are a mixture of clergy and laity from across the Diocese:
“Use the convening power of churches to bring people together to work at whatever can be done locally to debate with and encourage one another. What matters? What sort of society do we want to be? How do we belong together? And demonstrate a love of the stranger. We need to learn from the examples of the good practice we have among us.

“I have never felt more urgent about what the Christian Gospel has to contribute to our common good. There is a real issue of what is being unleashed.”

The Bishop had been speaking in the House of Lords in the week before Synod and he told the audience of clergy and laity from across the Diocese:
“At Parliament, every day there are people outside protesting. Some are pro-Brexit, some want to remain in the EU. In Parliament we have not yet found a way through that will command a majority. We have been round the arguments time and again. I do not want to comment on the politics, which are moving daily, but I do want to say something about our role as Christians and churches.

He told the Synod, which met at St Nicholas’ Church, Corfe Mullen:
“Pray for our politicians and especially for the government. Brexit is widely thought to be the most difficult task the country has undertaken in peace time. We might not have the best politicians, but they are the best politicians we’ve got. May God give them good judgement and set them free from self-interest so they act for the good of all.

“Pray also for the countries of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, I do think the union is threatened by this, and pray as well as for the EU.

“We are in this together. We may be leaving the EU but we will still be European. How are we going to remain an outward looking, global, creative, collaborative and imaginative contributor in this politically and environmentally fragile world?

“And whatever happens on 29th March, we can reasonably expect the sun will rise the day after. Life goes on. Continue to seek to live by the values by which Christians live. Seek peace, truth, justice and above all love.”

Read the Bishop's speaking notes here

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