Week 30: Hero – The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Wellby

by Ray_North on July 28, 2013

hero_iconThis Week’s Hero is the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Wellby.

I’m pretty sure that the majority opinion of those who write on these pages is not particularly well disposed towards religion, or, on the whole, religious leaders. Putting faith to one side, we are not impressed by the fact that more often than not they are as interested in protecting the interests of their particular religious denomination than they are about actually working to enhance and improve the lives of their flock.

It often frustrates to watch religious leaders spend time justifying arcane rules about women or gays or abortion whilst people live in misery and poverty and ignorance around them. Before you even get to the issues of theology and ethereal damnation and all that, it makes a mockery of claims religious leaders make about moral righteousness.

The growth of ‘pay day loan’ companies is a grotesque by-product of the current mess that our system of capitalism has found itself in. The ‘pay-day loan’ companies prey on those who are, perhaps, the most vulnerable in our society – those who have found themselves in debt and have no way of making ends meet without the help of these sharks. The likes of Wonga and Quick Quid charge stupendous interest rates, sometimes up to 2000% if you are unable to pay off the loans the next time your wages come in. The heartache they cause is profound.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Wellby is no fool, his background is one of economics and business – he understands the ruthless process of making money. It would have been easy for him to preach a sermon urging these companies to reform themselves and sympathising with the plight of those who have fallen foul of their duplicity. But, in fairness to him, he has gone one step further, Justin Wellby has promised to take on the pay-day loans companies and put them out of business, by setting up rival Credit Unions that will allow people to borrow (and save) money at more realistic rates of interest. He knows people with expertise who can bring this about, and, listening to him on the radio this week, it is clear that he is intent on making this happen. It is also clear that this is an extremely intelligent man – he knew full well, that these companies would fight regulation tooth and nail, and that their argument that the burden of regulation would simply provide succour to the loan sharks, who are even worse, would have been a persuasive one in Parliament – which is why setting up rival credit unions which the loan companies can do absolutely nothing about, is such a clever move.

We like that. We like it that a man with as much power as the Archbishop of Canterbury is prepared to take a stand against some of the most pernicious businesses in our society, we like it when someone who preaches about morality and suffering and need to look after the poor and the ill and weak is actually prepared to do something about it.

Bish, this week you are our hero.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Eddie Kaye July 29, 2013 at 8:11 am

Well done Your Grace. Now, can he do anything about the betting shops popping up everywhere (and more to the point, the gaming machines indside them). When the money lending firms have gone, guess who will be first in line for the leases?

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alx w July 29, 2013 at 8:33 am

With the new bish and new pope dedicated to humility and helping the poor, I think we may see some interesting times ahead. They are only following the central teachings of JC so it should never be rocket science!

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Green Christian July 29, 2013 at 4:11 pm

“we are not impressed by the fact that more often than not they are as interested in protecting the interests of their particular religious denomination than they are about actually working to enhance and improve the lives of their flock. ”

Um, that’s not actually a fact. It’s an impression you’ve got. Religious leaders pushing sectarian interests are far more newsworthy than religious leaders doing things like running food banks, so you’re more likely to hear about them. And religious leaders pushing sectarian agendas are far more likely to stick in the than religious leaders setting up a homeless shelter or debt counselling service.

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Ray_North July 29, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Hi Green,
I’m really glad that you are still reading our humble blog! And, on this occasion, I think your criticism is very fair – you are right in that there are many religious leaders who are indeed doing very good works and don’t get any recognition – I hope that Justin Wellby goes from strength to strength.

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