There was a time, sadly long gone, when the Church of England could be described as “the Conservative Party at prayer”. These days, “the Fabian Society at prayer” might be more accurate.
I have crossed swords in the past with the Bishop of Leicester over his knee-jerk support for climate alarmism. I was very concerned recently when the Bishops in the House of Lords voted against the IDS welfare cap. But then again I was very pleased to see the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey come out and insist that they were wrong to do so, and that the greatest moral lapse of government today was a debt of a trillion pounds which would hang over our children and our grandchildren. He insisted that the proposed welfare cap was a reasonable and proportionate measure to address the debt problem.
I was pleased to see through the week that the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, had come out against same-sex “marriage”, and called on David Cameron to abandon plans to legislate for it. Quite right too. It is not the business of governments to legislate to change the meaning of words, nor to undermine millennia of cultural norms, nor (arguably) to dilute and demean the institution of marriage itself.
And now the Bishops have turned to an issue which got me into a certain amount of hot water a year ago. A psychotherapist, Lesley Pilkington, had been entrapped into a meeting with a radical homosexual journalist, masquerading as a patient unhappy with his homosexual inclinations and seeking counselling. Mrs. Pilkington was struck off by her professional body, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), for offering to help him.
I was horrified by the broadside of abuse and vilification heaped on Mrs. Pilkington by the strident “gay rights” lobby, and I said so in a blog . I immediately became a target for similar treatment. I was accused of saying that homosexuality was a disease (I said no such thing), and that it could or should be “cured”. I didn’t say that either. I was merely arguing for the right of an individual, concerned about what he sees as a problem, to seek advice and counselling; and the right of therapists who believe that they can help, to attempt to do so. The BACP described the treatment proposed by Mrs. Pilkington as “absurd”, but I suspect that this was simply a modish, politically-correct and ideological 21st-Century prejudice, rather than a science-based assessment of the treatment itself.
Now Mrs. Pilkington’s appeal to the BACP against her striking-off is about to be heard, and Lord Carey, and the eminently sound Rt. Rev. Nazir-Ali and others, have written to the BACP in her support. Well done them. They say: “Psychological care for those depressed by unwanted homosexual attractions has been shown to yield a range of beneficial client outcomes, especially in motivated clients … Such therapy does not do harm”. They continue: “Competent practitioners, including those working with Biblical Judeo-Christian values, should be free to assist those seeking their help”.
In this case, I have to say that I think the Bishops have a point. But I dare say that the strident “gay rights” lobby will wade in anyway, with their usual intemperate and spiteful criticism. They claim to be in favour of the rights of homosexuals, but not, apparently, the right of homosexuals to seek to modify their life-style.
The greatest moral lapse of the nation may not be the trillion pounds worth of debt, but rather the systemic levels of un- and under employment, which has blighted so many lives, and which has condemned so many people to a life of dependence. This cap does little to address the fundamental problem, and appears as fiscal apatite to many observers. For once Labour may be right, we should have looked at a regional cap, higher in London, lower in most of the nation, which would have offered an incentive, without the distressing prospect of vast areas of London becoming a no go area for the less lucky, the disabled as well as the undeserving poor.
Thank god the bishops are still able to express their discontent, another example of the lesson I was taught as a child, Antidisestablimentarianism may not be the longest word in our language, but it remains one of the most important.
I also belive , that having done some research I can confirm. that this government, despite the stance of young Mark Harper during the Labour years, has yet to implement anti-discrimination laws across all government departments. It is abundantly clear that no level playing field exists for many disabled people and most likely never will.
The difference is that the debt is the result of conscious action by government. The unemployment is despite all the efforts of government.
I seem to recall that unemployment was a price worth paying to our eternal shame. We have seen high levels of unemployment across the west, and I grant you that it has not all been the fault of our government.
It still seems ridiculous to me that people receiving unemployment benefit can sometimes get more than the average wage. However if we are going to roll back the welfare state in earnest we will need to do far more to encourage people back into work. I think this is one of the most pressing social problems we face, if not the most pressing.