When you want clergy to stand up and defend Christian doctrines they won't. But it seems that some are busy interfering in political matters that are way out of their area of competence.
What business has Rowan Williams got telling us to vote to remain in the EU? He and others who claim to represent religious groups - but who are of course not elected by anyone in those groups to represent their views on this issue - have written to the Observer, a newspaper not noted for its Christian credentials, telling us to vote for the EU because the last 70 years have been the "longest period of peace in Europe's history".
That depends what you count as peace. The UK has been involved in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya for the last fifteen years. Being in the EU didn't stop that from happening.
In fact Europe internally had virtual peace from 1815, the end of the Napoleonic wars, until 1914. There was no major conflict between all the great powers. The War of Italian Unification never spread beyond Italy and it was in a good cause, The Franco-Prussian war in 1870 involved only two countries and it was pretty brief.
The wars of the twentieth century were not caused by the fact that there were a lot of independent sovereign countries. They were caused by the fact that people living in small states such as Serbia under the rule of bigger empires wanted freedom. And there was also the way Germany kept invading other sovereign states. Germany invaded Belgium, it invaded Czechoslovakia, Poland etc etc. So if you respect the independence of sovereign states, there is no problem maintaining peace.
Clearly, Rowan Williams has forgotten another even longer period of peace, under the Roman Empire. When Britain was subjugated by force and its people enslaved by the Roman Emperors, we had peace. We also had a single currency. We had to pay large amounts of tax to Rome for the privilege of being bossed around. Is that what Rowan Williams would like to see again? Roman rule meant we were governed by maniacs and persecutors like Nero, Caligula and Hadrian, but we had peace - on their terms, Under the Roman empire we enjoyed the benefits of slave-markets in our town centres, a huge standing army, the death penalty for almost anything at any moment, and the right to worship your rulers when they were officially made into gods. Those who resisted Roman rule were publicly whipped, raped and crucified,
Most people in Europe were pleased when the Goths and Vandals turned up, and hailed them as liberators. So much for "peace".
There was another long period of peace in English history, namely when we were under Danish domination in the time of King Canute. For a century or more, England had to pay Dane-geld and obey laws made by foreigners, Sounds familiar? Peace, or to put it another way, subjugation.
If we had not broken the peace in 1939 we would have had to accept subjugation by the Third Reich. And as a matter of fact, the idea of a Greater Europe united under German domination was originally put forward by a group of disappointed Nazis in the post-war period.
The British Raj in India certainly kept the peace there for a hundred years, but no Anglican bishops are standing up and defending it.
Is the situation we have got now in Greece worth the name of "peace"? The elected government being sent packing and replaced with puppets who are implementing a regime of pointless austerity and misery to prop up a fiscal policy that is going to fail anyway.
The EU is a brutally secular institution that is determined to stamp out and eradicate religious belief, It want no such influence in education or policy making. So why would any Christian leader support it? I can only conclude that Rowan Williams is naive.
He should go back to his retirement home and stop interfering in politics, which he is in no way qualified or entitled to do.
Lenten Meditations: Tuesday 28 March
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