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Welby warns of figures promising to make their nation great again

Welby warns of figures promising to make their nation great again

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, told church leaders last week at a New Wine conference, “I believe from the bottom of my heart that the long years of winter in the Church — especially in the Church of England — are changing … The ice is thawing; the spring is coming. There is a new spring in the Church.”

Church Times:

He began his speech, however, by suggesting that the world was seeing a time of deep insecurity and uncertainty — the worst since the end of the Cold War, or even the tumult of the 1930s.

Everyone was tempted to look for strong leaders in times of turmoil, he said. “We are seeing powerful figures rise who claim to be the ones to make their nation great again. Trump that if you want,” he joked.

Addendum. Welby’s full address is posted here. An extract:

… But there is an economic and political uncertainty, I want to suggest now, that we have not seen since 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell – and then before that really since the 1930s and the rise of fascism, the rise of Communism, the depths of what Philip Bobbitt, in an amazing book called The Shield of Achilles, describes as ‘the long war’ from 1914 to 1989.

… We are seeing powerful figures rise who claim to be the ones to make their nation great again. Trump that if you will [laughter]. But if you look at what is coming out of some of these figures… it is a desire to make the world certain, from their own point of view. And we know, you know, I know, there is only one certainty in the world and that is Jesus Christ. There is no one else who is certain. If we put our hope in princes or elections or whatever, we will be betrayed. It’s because people are human. It’s not a comment on politicians. The ones I have the blessing of meeting are in the vast majority people of great honour and integrity doing incredibly difficult jobs. But we know that they’re human.


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Dr. William A. Flint, MDiv, PhD

I would write in more detail, but Episcopal Cafe is not posting my statements.

Dr. William A. Flint, MDiv, PhD

This might be a good year for the church to stay silent before it splits over politics.

Shirley O'Shea

I don’t think staying silent, when so much of what Christianity teaches about justice and mercy is being flouted, is an option.

Richard Edward Helmer

I disagree. I don’t believe that Trump is simply trolling progressives, and I think there is sufficient justification to raise the alarm about parallels in the current political climate with those that gave rise to fascism historically. I very much doubt we can “starve” a persecution complex in a movement already built on one. Ironically, persecution complexes are a feature of fascist movements!

I agree that some of the parallels with Hitler may be overblown, and sadly, Godwin’s Law has demonstrated that we are little bit like the boy who cried wolf too many times. Nevertheless, we understate the danger of the current moment very much to our peril.

Richard Edward Helmer

I am unable to decide which I find more disquieting:

The attempt to normalize the increasingly violent populism that surrounds Trump, or the notion that he will suddenly become rational upon ascending to the Presidency. The first ignores the hatreds which now roil our body politic. The second overestimates the character of a man who appears to be quite acclimated to getting his own way.

James Byron

A Trump presidency would, in all likelihood, be horrific: and I hope his traveling circus is, and remains, abnormal. (His carefully-calculated rhetoric does, however, point to a rational candidate. Rational isn’t good.)

It’s precisely because I don’t want to see it that I object to comparisons with Hitler, comparisons that can only aid Team Trump by fueling his supporters’ sense of persecution. Trump’s trolling progressives. He wants this. Why give it to him?

Richard Edward Helmer

Authoritarians have always been skilled at making themselves look moderate when their followers begin acting out their extremist rhetoric. It’s a cleverly dangerous trick to play bad cop and good cop at the same time, and we don’t have to invoke Godwin’s law to assert that this is precisely what Trump is doing.

James Byron

Authoritarianism isn’t Nazism.

Most every politician is “authoritarian” to some degree or other (in that they seek to use the coercive power of the state). If that’s all that’s required to justify a comparison with Hitler, then the comparison’s been diluted to point of meaninglessness.

If, instead, it’s substantive, what Hitlerite policies is Trump gonna impose? Is he gonna murder people on the basis of their race? Round them up and intern them, or deport them? How’s he gonna achieve all this in a constitutional republic? Comparisons with Nazism require a heckuva lot more than what we’ve heard from Trump.

Alternatively, Trump’s a populist who knows his audience, plays to their prejudices, and trolls progressives masterfully. If he gets to 1600 Pennsylvania, Trumpery will hit political reality, and he doubtless knows that.

James Byron

If elected, Trump’s promised to round up and deport illegal aliens, but that’s on the basis of their immigration status, not their race. (Although racism does of course motivate some opponents of mass-immigration, others simply oppose the depression of wages and want the law upheld.)

Trump’s infamously promised a temporary ban on Muslims entering U.S. territory, on the grounds that a substantial minority globally support Islamic extremism. Collective punishment and religious discrimination are an affront to justice, but they’re not Nasism.

Jerald Liko

Although I agree that the tendency to compare Trump to Hitler is overblown to the point of being hysterical, I was under the impression that rounding people up and deporting them was a central plank in his platform. But maybe I’m confused or he has evolved…

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