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OPINION: Welby and His Flock on IS: a Helpful Zippo in a Forest Fire

His Grace couldn't be more wildly wrong in his response to the horrific news of more brutal killings by the band of lawless mercenaries dubbed the Islamic State. All Justin Welby (whose political influence isn't to be underestimated on this fair isle as abroad) has to offer in response to nutbag religious zealotry is more of the same.

"This evening, the appalling events of Iraq, and equally terrible killings in Northern Nigeria and in Syria, the war in the Ukraine, and in so many other parts of the world. The seeming endless repetition of the terrible tragedies of Gaza and of the whole of Israel and Palestine. All these events and movements propel us towards fear, and fear takes us to self-protection, and self-protection drives us to action that only makes things worse.
There must of course be actions. We are an active people. Christians are called by God to serve, to transform. Yet the pattern of action is set by the figure on the Cross."
Which actions? Nailing someone to a cross. Great.
So the flock must turn to the brutal torture of a Palestinian preacher 2,000 years ago to make sense of the level of terrorist threat from fundamentalists. What an inspiration. Should we sacrifice another preacher to stop IS fighters? Or is this a wonderfully pregnant metaphor for using the prophecy of Jesus' suffering as our inspiration as to how to respond to this crisis. Turn the other cheek? Suffer the punishment IS intends to inflict first on Kurds, then on all educated women, and finally on any apostates and heathens on the planet in silence, hoping that future generations will glare up at statues of us in wonder at our ability to suffer enslavement and torture during their Sunday service? Brilliant.
He croaks on:
"We look at human sin and violence, and that gives us reason to fear. We look at natural disasters – and you know so much more than we do about that – and we see millions and billions of reasons for fear.
Against those millions and billions, there is only one reason for courage, for hope – and that is God. The God of Cross and Resurrection. And that one reason overwhelms every other reason for fear."
Oh, right. God, and not the salvaging of our species from trigger-happy religious zealots, is our ONLY reason for courage. Not the actions of governments, the risks taken by a military stripped to its bare bones by budget cuts. Not Médecins Sans Frontières doctors entering the zone at the risk of their lives, or great women like Malala Yousafzai publishing the shameful practices of the religious 'scholars' who promote extremism. Our 'hope' lies in a God who takes sides in human conflicts but does nothing. Brilliant again.
As always, the moral teachings of the Archbishop of Canterbury are about as helpful in responding to an urgent ethical problem as a Zippo lighter in a forest fire. 'Help! My house is burning!' 'It's OK everyone, I've got a Zippo!' answers Welby.
With every speech, his Grace proves his own irrelevance to a country which is predominantly nonreligious, showing increasing irritation at a State-sponsored church and its public 'figures'.
What to do about IS, Gaza and Nigeria? Well, start by taxing this flapdragon and his flock for their enormous properties and church buildings, and we might just be able to fund some proper academic research into the issue. Micro-finance worthwhile health and agriculture projects in these desolate regions. Pay for women to have access to proper contraception, freeing them from bestial cycles of poverty. You know, use the evil twin monsters Reason and Science to clean up the mess and provide real solutions to problems. As always.
So doff that great big hat of yours and pay up, Welby, we need a few bob now there's a real crisis across the world and soon to arrive at our doorstep. Save the speeches for the Great British Bake Off fans in your flock. Baking is what your church does best, stick to that.


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