The archbishop of Canterbury’s defence of refugee rights has been a necessary counterweight to cruel government policy
After a challenging year, the Anglican hierarchy was afforded some light relief last week by Jonathan Gullis, the reliably belligerent Conservative MP for Stoke-on-Trent North. Taking exception to the archbishop of Canterbury’s excoriation of the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, Mr Gullis discerned a troubling modern tendency to use “the pulpit to preach from”. Justin Welby responded that he appreciated the feedback and looked forward to advice on more appropriate pulpit activity.
This Christmas, as a sobering 2022 draws to a close, Lambeth Palace can be forgiven for indulging in some festive humour at Mr Gullis’s expense. Last month, census results indicated that, for the first time, less than half the population of England and Wales described themselves as Christian. Separate figures revealed a steep fall in numbers attending Anglican services. Respect for the late queen’s devout faith meant that the Church of England’s established status was never truly brought into question. But in the post-Elizabethan era, serious scrutiny seems inevitable – especially in the context of eventual House of Lords reform.