Obsession with meaningless and ‘anaemic’ displays of unity is ‘dishonest’ and could be helping extremists, says Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor
Religious leaders risk fuelling extremism by pretending that all faiths are basically the same, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.
The Most Rev Justin Welby said faith leaders seemed desperate to hide behind “bland” and “anaemic” statements about what they have in common rather than facing up to the “profound differences” between them.
But he warned that the pretence that mainstream religions agree on everything is simply “dishonest” and risks leaving them impotent to halt the spread of extremism.
His comments came in address to the annual dinner of the Board of Deputies of British Jews in London.
The Archbishop told the audience, which included hundreds of Jewish community leaders as well as Muslims, Christians and representatives and other faiths, that the recent wave of persecution and inter-religious violence seen in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere was a “generational” threat.
“If we don’t do that we leave all the good arguments in the hands of the radicals and that is the great challenge I face, and I believe we all face,” he said.
“If we’re going to do that we have to come together and we have to have the difficult conversations in safe spaces and that’s a very, very difficult thing up do.”
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He added: “We need to move beyond inter-religious interaction in which we the usual suspects issue bland statements of anaemic intent with which you could paper the walls of Lambeth Palace — and much good would it do you — all desperate to agree with one another so that the very worst outcome could possibly be that we end up acknowledging our differences.
“That is not enough in the face of the dangers we face at this time.
“It is disingenuous and ultimately dishonest because alongside all that we hold in common and all that we share there are profound differences between what we believe and the outworking of our faith.
“True friendships and relationships can withstand honesty about differences in values, opinions and religious understandings and a common commitment to mutual flourishing in diversity.”