I was disturbed when the Prime Minister said Dominic Cummings was simply following the "instinct" of any parent, and that he wouldn't mark him down for that.
One thinks of the huge sacrifice that's been made by an enormous number of people, including some who have not visited their parents or children for weeks. One woman said, "My father died on Tuesday. I haven't seen him since lockdown and every every instinct in my body told me to see him, but I decided not to, for the common good."
I don't see this as a matter of politics, but rather as a matter of life and death. If people feel that Government instructions during this pandemic can be taken with a pinch of salt, then the likelihood is that social distancing will not be observed, and thousands more people will lose their lives.
Responding to the critics
I've received a huge number of messages - a large number of them supportive, some of them indignant, some very offensive and one death threat which said quite simply, "Stay out of politics or we'll kill you."
People have said, "Why don't you speak out about other things?" In fact, I speak out about all sorts of things, but very rarely do they get picked up and receive the sort of media attention that I've received on this. Bishops tweet and write about a heck of a lot of other things.
Some have quoted "judge not and ye shall not be judged". But I'm not judging in the sense of condemning. I'm far too aware of my own faults and failings to want to condemn anyone. But I was speaking truth to those in authority. As a Christian, I have a responsibility to speak out for justice.
Mixing religion and politics
Some people have told me 'Jesus always forgave'. But the Gospel accounts are full of Jesus' righteous indignation against the political leaders who he felt were being hypocritical and imposing burdens on the people which they weren't following themselves. The gospels are replete with interventions, which by any account would be described as political.
My favorite Desmond Tutu quote is, "When people say religion and politics don't mix, I wonder which Bible they're reading." He received an enormous number of death threats for having spoken out for justice, because he saw that as central to the call of Jesus.
The Gospel accounts are full of Jesus' righteous indignation against the political leaders who were being hypocritical and imposing burdens on the people which they weren't following themselves
I was asked on local radio whether I thought Dominic Cummings should resign. I didn't think that was for me to answer, but I was followed by a local Conservative MP who said very robustly he should. Her reasoning was there should be a higher bar applied to those who create and impose the rules than the rest of us. And that's a pretty logical argument.
What really saddens me about this, is at the beginning of the pandemic, the British people came together in an extraordinary fashion. And huge sacrifices have been made.
What I'm hoping and praying for with all my heart, is that we can come together again. Cummings-gate is something of a distraction, but it is a relevant distraction in view of the huge restrictions that have been placed on the British people. Our cathedrals and churches have been closed. Why? Because we followed Government advice to the letter. In fact we went further and prohibited clergy from even live-streaming inside their buildings because we wanted to set a good example. But we need to know that everyone is following those guidelines and everyone is pulling together.
John Inge is the Bishop of Worcester. He was speaking to Premier's Tola Mbakwe on Premier Christian Radio's News Hour programme
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