The Bishop of Lichfield has blamed the birth of the Yuppies in the 1980s for the banking crisis and the MPs expenses scandal.
The Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill also added that the “glorification of the individual” and the “duty of a person to look after themselves first” as the seeds of the problems.
And he added that “catastrophic collapse of trust in our society” has been caused by magnifying “the lone individual’s short-term profit over the good of the community”.
His comments came during a presidential address at the annual general meeting of the Lichfield Diocesan Board of Finance and Synod which took place in Chase Terrace. He took as his theme the Good Childhood Report – published earlier this year by the Children’s Society, which is due to be debated by the General Synod this weekend.
He said the church should make it a priority to provide safe spaces for children and young people, saying:
“Parents today look long and hard for safe places for their children where they can be taught proper values. They know that their children need friends in reality and not just on a computer screen. This report shows that all children need seven things to flourish. They need loving families; they need good friendships; they need a positive lifestyle; based on solid values; they need good schools; good mental health; and enough money so that they are not ashamed in front of others.
“It shows clearly that too many just don’t have most of those things; that a third of our 16 year-olds now live apart from their fathers; that as many as 20 per cent of teenagers report committing a violent offence in the last year. The more a child is exposed to TV and Internet the more materialistic she becomes; the worse she relates to her parents; and the worse her mental health. Children also need places to meet and to play. For teenagers a youth club is a natural place – if it exists. But in Britain very many closed in the 1980s owing to lack of government support.”
The Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill added that while the Report closely matched the views of the Church, many areas still needed to do more to meet the needs of children:
“The remedies proposed by the Report are stunningly obvious – they even recommend a naming ceremony six months after birth as a good idea, and they talk about solid values to build a life-style on as if this was a new invention.
“We can give ourselves two cheers; we can pat ourselves on the back because we’ve always recognised these things. But Bob Jackson’s recent report says that 80 per cent of our churches in this diocese have no proper provision for children or young people’s work. If we know these things but do not do them, perhaps we are in danger of stricter judgement than those of our neighbours who don’t know.
“We do have upwards of 50 youth, children’s and families workers, which is marvellous. But we have got little support at diocesan level for all these different initiatives, and that is not so marvellous. Our diocesan strategy for growth, which we have all signed up to, specifically mentions the importance of children’s work as one of its three principal aims.
‘Thank God that recently the numbers of children attending our churches has started to rise again, especially mid-week, this is very exciting. But we have some way to go before we get back to the expectation that every church will have a proper children’s work, let alone back to the 1950s situation when over 40 per cent of the population went to Sunday School.
“The report says rightly that children are a sacred trust. Unless we care properly for them we will never grow the Kingdom, because ‘of such is the Kingdom of God’.”