Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
There has been much political commentary over the last few days surrounding the Special Adviser to the Prime Minister, Dominic Cummings. It has come as a surprise to some to see Church of England clergy speaking out over the subject, some of our Bishops (some who sit in the House of Lords) have even received death threats for joining in with the public discourse. I have seen people on social media accusing clergy of being party political for alluding to the incident in a critical fashion, whilst conveniently ignoring the fact that a Tory minister has resigned and other back-benchers are openly critical of their own Cabinet's response to the handling of this situation.
Whist I would agree that clergy should not be actively party political in their public ministry I can't accept the view that clergy should remain apolitical. If a person has a strong faith then that will inform every corner of their lives, political considerations included. I have written about politics on this very forum and the need to vote according to our conscience. As Christians we have a duty to engage with the political life of our nation to do what we can to bring about the most just, compassionate and peaceful society we can. The situation surrounding Dominic Cummings is important because ignoring it could lead to a large second wave of infections as people lose trust in the government's advice. A large second wave of infections would affect those on the margins of society, the vulnerable, BAME families and the elderly disproportionately. Calling for the Prime Minister to act on this ground swell of public anger and distrust is absolutely the right thing to do. It would be the right thing to do regardless of which party held office.
The Church has at times in its history been silent when it needed to speak out, if the Church doesn't speak out then it becomes complicit in the events that follow. Whilst not wishing to invoke Godwin's Law an example can be drawn from Nazi Germany. On the whole the church in Nazi Germany remained silent or even colluded with the Third Reich. It was courageous Christians such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Confessing Church that resisted the ideology and actions of the Nazi party and stood up for what was good and right. I am, of course, in no way inferring that our nation currently resembles the Nazi state in any way. What I am saying is that when the Church does not speak truth to power then it fails in its duty to resist the devil and evil. After all, if the Church had spoken out in the early days of National Socialism in 1930's Germany then all the atrocities that followed may not have happened, Clergy should lead this examination of the nation's political life but all Christians should speak out for the poor and vulnerable, we must all be advocates for the voiceless.
I will join in with the Bishops and clergy and call upon our Prime Minister to hold Dominic Cummings to account for his actions and restore the public trust in the government's guidance on Coronavirus. I call upon our MP Caroline Ansell to join with her back-bench colleagues and speak out on behalf of her constituents who have abided by the rules and suffered sacrificially to protect others. I do so with a good conscience.
Fr Adam Ransom