Sunday, March 18, 2012


So, Farewell, Then, Rowan Williams

With his big beard, Rowan Williams looks the ideal Archbishop of Canterbury.

Well, that’s the nice bit over with.

I’ve never been a member of the Church of England – both my youthful Christian tribes rather looked down on it as something wishy-washy in between – but I’ve always taken an interest in its politics, not least because the House of Lords is stuffed with unelected bishops who boss the rest of us around and seem mainly to come out of the woodwork to hate the gays.

I remember when Dr Williams was appointed, to the joy of ‘liberal’ Anglicans and those who expected a thoughtful academic. I’ve watched the disappointment as he’s given in to every conservative demand and pushed his church further into homophobia and against modernity. And his kindly, otherworldy bufferish image, looking exactly like the Church of England as so many imagine it, has been a handy screen for the hate and bigotry that’s increasingly animated its public pronouncements.

So I’m glad he’s going. I’d rather have a sneering bigot that doesn’t make a pretence of reasonableness (though I’d rather have a bigot of any stripe not get an automatic place in Parliament, and free the Church of England to make its own decisions by disestablishing the lot. But that’s another story).

But I snorted at his going back to academia. Because everyone always says what a wise and thoughtful intellectual he is.


Perhaps he is, when actually an academic and held to peer-reviewed standards. But I’ll always remember his ‘intellectual’ pronouncements as Archbishop of Canterbury, giving long speeches full of mendacious empire-building and supported by covering fire from vicious spin-doctors.

Always remember that Rowan Williams was a politician, sitting in the Lords, making political pronouncements, and advancing his own agenda through lies and spin.

Next time someone gives him reverential deference because of how otherworldly but wise he is, please have a read of my in-depth fisking of one of his most infamous speeches, in which he tried to wind back centuries of the Rule of Law and pile up his tribal privileges: Rowan Williams In Detail: Deceitful, Demented or Naïve to the Point of Idiocy?. I think it’s still one of my best articles. And I think it shows him up for the devious, rotten authoritarian he is.

And, obviously, no-one with my name would wish childishly that the “smart money” is right and the Bishop of Coventry gets the nod, so that his name is constantly put on screen as the country’s main cheerleader for homophobic medievalism.

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