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Politics

Archbishops ask people to reject hateful language in election video

by Cara Bentley

The statement, which has also been sent as a letter to Church of England parishes, appeals to those involved in the election to express facts and opinions with "humility and love", saying: "People who hold different political views are not our enemies. Two people can look at the same facts and in good faith interpret them very differently. "

Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, and Most Rev Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury appear in the film together and present a challenge for people to be aware of the effects of their words.

They also appeal to the prospective parliamentary candidates: "We call on all standing for election to reject the language of prejudice and not to stoke stigma or hatred towards people on the grounds of their religion, their culture, their origin, their identity or their belief. Several groups, especially in Jewish and Muslim communities, feel threatened and are in much anxiety."

The Labour Party has been criticised for its poor record with removing anti-Semitism from the party, as has Boris Johnson for his comments about Muslim women.

The two most senior clergy in the Church of England continue: "No individual or community in our shared society should have reason to lack confidence in their belonging or security, so parties must make it an absolute priority to offer positive reassurance and avoid anything that increases the perception of fear."

They also sought to remind people that Jesus will "return as our judge" and that God is the "final judge in our nation and in our politics."

Philip Powell from the Jubilee Centre, which provides biblical thinking for public issues, told Premier: "My impression was that they have actually done something very important. In fact, I would even go so far as to say, I'm delighted they've done it and that's not so much because they've made the intervention, but because of the tone with which they've communicated what they've said.

"On one hand, they could have been too political, or they could have been too theological and I think they've got the balance right on what they've said. I've carefully listened to some of the points they've highlighted and I think we needed to hear that from people like Archbishop Welby and Archbishop Sentamu."

He added: "I think the other thing that struck me about what they said was about our minority communities in this country that are struggling - they mentioned the Jews, they mentioned Muslim communities - and it's very important for the sake of our nation that we come out and say that we reject this identity politics that's about hating others.

"[That attitude] is not about talking about what you're for...it's merely attacking something that you're against."

 

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