Govt thinks Christians are ‘bonkers’ like jihadists, says Archbishop of Canterbury

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. © Tony Gentile / Reuters

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. © Tony Gentile / Reuters – 14/11/16

Justin Welby, the Church of England’s most senior cleric, says the government has such a poor understanding of religion that it lumps jihadists and Anglican Christians into one group and considers them both “bonkers.”

Speaking to head teachers of Church of England schools, he said some government departments had a very poor grasp of religion.

“The Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence, our government generally, is desperately trying to catch up, to understand a world in which they have no grip on what it is to be religious at all; where religious illiteracy is prevalent and extremely destructive of understanding and where they can’t see really the difference between an extremist Muslim group like the Muslim Brotherhood and a sort of conservative evangelical group in a Church of England church,” he said.

“They assume they’re a bit bonkers.”

Although it is “fine to reject and condemn many of the things done in the name of religion” it was just as important to “understand what it is that can so catch hold of someone that they think life itself is not worth living if that contradicts what they believe,” he added.

In September Welby conceded Britain has a “deeply entrenched” anti-Semitism problem made worse over time by Christianity.

The Church of England’s highest cleric called Christianity’s treatment of Jews “shameful” and said society is still struggling with the consequences of its “history of denial and complicity.”

Welby called anti-Semitism a nationwide problem which is not limited to one political group.

In an essay for the Holocaust Educational Trust, the archbishop said: “Anti-Semitism is at the heart of racism. Yet, because it is so deeply entrenched in our thought and culture, it is often ignored and dismissed.”