Bishop of Lichfield: Afghan democracy is built while British freedoms are eroded

The Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill

The Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill

The Bishop of Lichfield has criticised the decision to send British troops to build a democracy in Afghanistan while corruption and and violence are “not entirely absent” at home.

The Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill made his controversial comments during a Remembrance Sunday sermon. 

He told a congregation in Stoke Minster:

“We are throwing our soldiers at a nation where the structures are endemically corrupt.  We are trying to train up police in a society which is divided and where terrorism reigns.  That is a difficult task for our troops and we salute them.

“But the point which we can consider is this: isn’t it true that in our own society we are chipping away at the values which make our freedoms possible?  You can’t make a democracy in Afghanistan without shared public values and citizens who are not corrupt and violent.  But in our own country corruption and violence are not entirely absent.

“The bankers who have gambled away our futures mostly still fail to see that there has been wrongdoing and still argue that they should be given bonuses when most of us know they should be given penalties.  Some of our MPs have filed false expense claims, though very few in Staffordshire, thank goodness.”

He also blamed “ignorance not malice” for decisions, such as the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights which this week ruled that the public display of crucifixes in Italian schools discriminated against non Christians, and added:

“Europe would not be Europe without its Christian history and foundations.  The cross or the crucifix reminds us of the greatest act of sacrificial love in the history of the world.  It can’t be done away with as if it were a private symbol.” 

Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.


  1. Unconcerned Citizen

    8th November, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    As far as i am aware – there is no mention in the scriptures of Jesus advocating the use of crucifixes for promotional or social control purposes.
    I’m sure Jesus would be happier if upon his return he is not faced by hoards of crucifix wearers – he could take it the wrong way.

  2. Brennig

    8th November, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Hey #1 Unconcerned Citizen. I’m not religious but even I can work out that the symbol of the cross didn’t become a religious icon until some time *after* Jesus had been crucified. Therefore he’d hardly have been in a position to advocate the use of the crucifix as a religious symbol, would he?

  3. BrownhillsBob

    9th November, 2009 at 12:21 am

    I note that irony bypass operations seem to be a whole bunch more effective these days.


  4. Unconcerned Citizen

    9th November, 2009 at 12:35 am

    Brennig – my point was that the symbol is not important.

    In actuality – there is a little more depth to the situation than what the bishop mentions.

    In italy it is law that schools display the crucifix – they aren’t always displayed for the right reason – but because they have to be.
    The Bishop would be right saying that displaying of crucifixes doesn’t discriminate against non-christians.

    However – legistlation in Italy that schools have to display crucifixes is at the very least a form of positive discrimination for christians – and positive discrimination means there is enequality thus – discrimination.

    There’s a touch more depth to the situation than just a school displaying a cross and some ‘johhny foriegner’ moaning about it.