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Social media is polarising society and destroying the ‘common narrative’ of the Christian story uniting Britain, the Archbishop of Canterbury warned yesterday.
Justin Welby criticised online platforms for giving people ‘a very loud voice’ and creating colliding ‘waves’ of opinions.
The Archbishop, who has 173,000 Twitter followers, said social media had led to the erosion of shared experiences.
‘People don’t know the narratives and the stories of the Christian faith – the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, the Lost Sheep,’ he added.
Justin Welby criticised online platforms for giving people ‘a very loud voice’ and creating colliding ‘waves’ of opinions
‘When you lose those cultural signposts, people rely on gut feeling and it doesn’t really work. There isn’t a common narrative – what are we as a country?
‘What social media does is it gives a very loud voice to people who previously couldn’t make their voice heard so it becomes much more evident. You get these waves going one way or another. But I think that’s a symptom. I don’t think it’s the disease.’
Dr Welby said he still believed there was a Christian narrative in Britain but lamented the rise of ‘radical autonomy’ – a societal trend of holding the self in the highest level of reverence.
‘If you’re in a society that is internally riven, you will behave less well to outsiders,’ he said in an interview with The Times. ‘We’re much more vulnerable. I think this is an incredibly fragile time, but also an incredibly hopeful time.’
The Archbishop extended his criticism to Twitter storms that have engulfed figures such as JK Rowling, who has been hounded for her views on gender identity. ‘It’s fine to disagree vehemently but not abusively… The culture wars approach is where we end up in the greatest trouble,’ he said.
Dr Welby entered the transgender debate himself, defining a woman as ‘someone who is sexually a woman, who is born and identifies as a woman or who has transitioned’.
He said there was ‘a difference between how you identify a woman and how you ensure that trans people are valued and cared for in exactly the same way as every other human being’.
The archbishop added: ‘They’re not less, they have their particular challenges, every human being has their particular challenges. But we can’t get away from the science. We’ve got to start there.’
Dr Welby also defended his recent controversial comments on Partygate, when he said ‘we need to rediscover’ good standards in public life, and the Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, saying the policy raised ‘serious ethical questions’ and ‘cannot stand the judgment of God’.
He said: ‘The idea that I shouldn’t be political… is a nonsense. Everyone is political… You have to [stand up and be counted] – everyone does.’
CHURCH ‘MUST PAY COLONIAL DEBT’
A leading clergyman has accused Christianity of spreading colonialism around the globe – and wants the Church of England to make reparations for its ‘corporate and ancestral guilt’.
Preaching in an Ascension Day service broadcast on Radio 4, the Reverend Dr Michael Banner said Christians had marched around the world, ‘subduing and rendering it one vast kingdom hand in hand with merchants and colonialists’.
Dr Banner, Dean of Trinity College Cambridge, said Christ urged disciples to be his witnesses, but added: ‘We were not witnesses, but a scandal.’ He told worshippers at St Martin-in-the-Fields, central London on Thursday: ‘Now is the time for moral repair and reparations.’
In September, he became the first clergyman to call for the Government to make reparations, but said it was not ‘a demand for a pile of cash’ but ‘a holistic healing of the wounds of colonialism’.
Last week, black commentator Calvin Robinson told The Mail on Sunday he was blocked from becoming an Anglican priest because he refused to endorse the view that the Church of England was racist.