British Christian leaders attack government's welfare cuts

LONDON Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:33pm GMT

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaks during a news conference at Lambeth Palace in London February 20, 2014. REUTERS/Neil Hall

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby speaks during a news conference at Lambeth Palace in London February 20, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Neil Hall

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LONDON (Reuters) - Leading Christian clergy in Britain, including the head of the Church of England, attacked welfare cuts by the Conservative-led government on Thursday, putting them at odds with Prime Minister David Cameron.

As Britain struggles to reduce its large budget deficit, the government has embarked on a radical shake-up of the welfare system that makes up 20 percent of public spending and has vowed to cut costs if returned to power in an election next year.

But religious leaders in Britain have criticised the cuts, saying they have forced rising numbers of people to use free food banks, skip meals and turn off heating to save money.

A group of more than 40 senior clergyman, including Anglican bishops, Methodists and Quakers, accused Cameron in an open letter of creating a "national crisis" of hunger and hardship.

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual leader of the world's 80 million Anglicans, said he "entirely" agreed with the letter, though he had not been a signatory.

"It is from the upswell in feeling that they (the clergy) are reporting, that sense that they are seeing in their own church communities," Welby, a former oil industry executive, told reporters at his official residence, Lambeth Palace.

Responding to the criticism, a spokesman for Cameron said the welfare reforms were designed to help people move back into the workforce after the worst recession in decades.

"A BETTER LIFE"

"Our welfare reforms are about building a country where people are not trapped in a cycle of dependency but are able to get on, stand on their own two feet and build a better life for themselves and their family," the spokesman said.

Thursday's letter came after Britain's top Roman Catholic, Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, last weekend decried benefits cuts as a "disgrace", prompting Cameron to reply that the reforms were a "moral case" to give people hope.

A government-commissioned report released on Thursday confirmed the use of food banks across the UK was rising but disputed claims this was due to increased availability.

"Food bank use is soaring because people in Britain are experiencing the grind of poverty. Wages have stagnated for years, benefits are being cut," said Keith Taylor from the Greens party of England and Wales.

Welby has been a vocal proponent of social justice since taking over the Church of England a year ago, for example attacking short-term lenders who charge high interest rates.

The unified voice of Christian leaders over poverty comes as Welby tries to foster closer ties between Anglicans and other denominations, particularly the churches of England and Rome.

On Thursday, he welcomed four members of a Catholic-founded ecumenical group Chemin Neuf of mixed denominations to live at Lambeth Palace for three years, describing it as a "profound" step on the road to unity between the churches.

"It is hopefully, under God, a movement that will bear fruit in the future," Welby said.

(Editing by Gareth Jones and Ken Wills)

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Comments (5)
laodizea wrote:
Christians want to attack Satan of Church of England Where not only the highest level of sex abuse of children but even gays porn service and worship to devil Conservatives, devils from Jewish church of England are western values And plus western Catholics (Mister Cameron and a honourable good family man not you protestants against Jesus ,Against what you protest ,paedophiles? Against Jesus

Feb 21, 2014 1:07am GMT  --  Report as abuse
laodizea wrote:
Christians want to attack Satan of Church of England Where not only the highest level of sex abuse of children but even gays porn service and worship to devil Conservatives, devils from Jewish church of England are western values And plus western Catholics (Mister Cameron and a honourable good family man not you protestants against Jesus ,Against what you protest ,paedophiles? Against Jesus

Feb 21, 2014 1:07am GMT  --  Report as abuse
laodizea wrote:
JESUS CONDEMNs TO YOU SO CALLED CHRUCH OF ENGLAND YOU ARE THE SHAME OF ENGLAND For you Zionists of Satan with Jewish seal 666 of their star from kabbalh( IT IS YOU ,Cof E) Deuteronomy 22King James Version (KJV) the defender of the faith of England stands in this Bible 20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:
21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among youLeviticus 20 13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them and in new testament for us christians
Romans 1 (For idiots it is St Paul)22 Professing themselves to be
wise, they became fools, 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. In order that do not invent rubbish It is said GOD CURSED GAYS they are unclean

Feb 21, 2014 2:01am GMT  --  Report as abuse
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