What sort of a nation shall we be? asks Bishop
18th Jun 2016
The Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, has asked:
“Whatever the outcome of Thursday’s referendum, what sort of a nation are we waking up to on Friday? And what can the Church do to bring reconciliation?”
Addressing the brutal and senseless killing of Jo Cox MP and the exaggerated EU Referendum debate, Bishop Stephen highlighted the fact that nearly half the population of Britain do not identify with any religion. The terrible homophobic murders in Orlando, the genocide in Syria and the plight of refugees making hazardous journeys to find shelter are big challenges facing the world. So too are the discrepancy between rich and poor and the abuse of people and the environment. It is when human life is no longer recognised as precious that horror takes hold. He told the MPs of East London and Essex: "the Church of England is on your side, we thank you for the work you do for the common good. We are with you, praying for you and supporting you.”
“The values and beliefs that make Britain great” are “those values and beliefs that we see in Jesus Christ,” the Bishop said.
“Yet for many people growing up in Britain religion in general and Christianity in particular seems to stand for things opposed to human rights and freedoms. Anxious for our survival, we have allowed our vision to become too narrow. Let us change this, and become a Church which is generous and inclusive, embodying the radical hospitality of God,” said the Bishop.
It is the lack of religion "or its perversion into narrow and hateful fundamentalism" "that causes the horrors of the world."
“Everyone matters. Everyone is precious to God. It is where human rights begin. And when we forget it horror takes a hold – either the senseless murder of an MP on Thursday, or the terrible homophobic murders in Orlando last Saturday, or the genocide of a whole people in Syria.”
Bishop Stephen has asked for the churches of the diocese to be open on Thursday, praying for the guidance of God in the life of the nation, and on Friday, praying for reconciliation.
“That is our task,” said Bishop Stephen,
“and we play our part by preaching and embodying the gospel of Christ, who laid down his life for his friends.”
“When Britain wakes up on Friday,” the Bishop added, “the big challenges facing our world will still be there. There will still be a terrible discrepancy between rich and poor. The environment will still be at risk. People in danger will still make hazardous journeys to find safety for their families. Vulnerable people will still be exploited and abused. People will still get on their bikes to look for work. In or out of Europe these challenges remain, and we will need to work together, and with others across the world, to deal with them."
“Let us pray for our politicians who will once again have to deal with the consequence of our votes, and who will themselves be feeling anxious and frightened. Let us make sure they know that they have our support. Let us particularly send a message loud and clear to the MPs of East London and Essex: the Church of England is on your side, we thank you for the work you do for the common good. We are with you, praying for you and supporting you.”
The Bishop was addressing the Chelmsford Diocesan Synod, the regional parliament of the Church of England in East London and Essex, on 18 June 2016.