Archbishop Smackdown

John Sentamu, Archbishop of York (he of the “prophetic enactment”, Anglicanism’s number two man), has come out swinging against media bias, the liberal elite, the Muslim veil, and Christmas commercialism. File under: when religious leaders speak their mind. For a staid old church, this stuff is a breath of fresh air.

On the BBC’s bias against the Church of England:

They can do to us what they dare not do to the Muslims. We are fair game because they can get away with it. We don’t go down there and say, ‘We are going to bomb your place.’ It is not within our nature.

On Muslims and the veil:

I think the thing is in British society you can wear what you want, but you can’t expect British society to be reconfigured around you. No minority can expect to impose this on the public or civic life.

On Christmas:

Do we need those toys? I would suggest that this Advent we should be eating less and not spending so much. Give up a little bit and find charities that give clean water. Also, support our farmers, buy more products from this country. If you lose farmers, you are going to lose this green and pleasant land.

On Britain:

When I was in Uganda, everything that was British was the best. If you went to a shop to buy a ruler, you looked for one that said ‘Made in Britain.’ But now this country disbelieves itself in an amazing way. It almost dislikes its own culture. It doesn’t realise that the arts, music, buildings have grown out of a strong Christian tradition. John Betjeman would be shocked that the nation is not interested in helping preserve these things

On the liberal elite:

They see themselves as holding the flag for Britain and that Britain is definitely secular and atheist. I want them to have their say, but not to lord it over the rest of us.

On parenting:

Once children have reached 11 and you have not been with them, then you have lost them. That is the difference between what happens in a Jewish home or a Muslim home, where the raising of children is paramount


  1. What an amazing man- I am now totally moved to find out more about him. Thanks for the post.

  2. Why is it that the British seem to be able to take the same things that are on the minds of their American counterparts, and yet say them in a way that doesn’t sound stupid?

  3. Seth,
    Don’t praise the British. British = Archbishop of Canterbury. Ugandan = Archbishop of York!

  4. Julie M. Smith says:

    “Ugandan = Archbishop of York!”

    Whoa. I didn’t realize that the first time I read the quotes. Then I reread them–amazing how different they ‘sound.’

  5. Saying it like it is. I like what I’ve read so far from this guy.

  6. The great thing about John Sentamu’s statements is that he pursues his interests while acknowledging his obligations to others.

  7. What is funny is how the Global South is now sending “missionaries” to the North.

    A century ago. Heck 40 years ago it was the opposite.

    I like this guy.

  8. Ronan,
    It is fresh air indeed.

  9. The irony is that Sentamu is protected by the chattering class’s PC ways. Because he’s from Uganda, he can say things that the white guy in Canterbury can’t. I imagine Williams finds this useful, but would never admit to it.

  10. York is my favorite cathedral, now it has an archbishop to match!! Great!!!

  11. Someday Ronan, I’m going to have to learn to read posts carefully before drive-by commenting on them.

  12. I tried rereading these comments as having to do with the religiocultural divide in Utah (the Tribune’s bias against Mormons; the newcomers’ insistance on changing our liquor laws, analogous to the Muslim veil) and it works just as well. I may steal — uh, adapt this man’s talking points.

  13. Ugandans are on the frontier of Islamic expansion. They know what they are talking about and they know to be afraid.

    No fear here …. yet.

  14. What’s the point of fear George?

    Just get the stupid job done, and skip the fear part.

    Works for me.

  15. If you went to a shop to buy a ruler, you looked for one that said ‘Made in Britain’.

    What a lame example. Anybody with basic motor skills can produce a ruler with the same attention to detail that Britain’s Old World Craftsmen bestow on their straight edges.

    Guitar amps, on the other hand, really do need that “Made in Britain” pasted on the back. It’s not a Marshall, Vox, Orange, Celestion, etc. without it.

  16. Okay, since it came up as a tangent in this post, I have to ask: how on Earth is a woman’s decision to wear a veil an imposition on the people around her? I’ve been following the debate in Britain, and gee, it sounds a lot like the stuff I hear in South America about how my observance of the Word of Wisdom at dinner parties and business meetings is an imposition on my hosts and a signal that I’m an isolationist who doesn’t want to interact with them.

    I don’t think Jack Straw is speaking rationally when he accuses women who observe standards of modesty to which he is unaccustomed of trying to stymie public discourse. These women are in the public sphere; they seek employment outside their homes; and it’s clear from Straw’s initial remarks that they seek to initiate conversations with Straw himself. So he can’t see their faces–if someone emails him or writes him a letter, does he criticize them because he can’t read their body language?

  17. I think at minimum SV, a veil cuts of all the facial expressions and other non-verbal cues that are important in communication. Compare say phone conversations with FTF communications and there really is a big difference. (I hate talking on the phone, btw)

    There is also the issue that we use pictures to identify people. In our culture what is the stereotype of the person who hides their face? The criminal wearing the ski mask. We become quite uncomfortable when we can identify people.

    I don’t think the WoW really compares.

  18. Clark, when I lived in Venezuela, my friends and coworkers encouraged, even pressured me to wear clothing which no temple-endowed Mormon could wear. Aside from the way it was cut, it was usually skin-tight. They felt that my relatively modest clothing covered me up in a way that limited their ability to see my body’s movement, something they leaned on in day-to-day communication. Body language, you know? I was blocking their ability to read my nonverbal signals. Of course, when people there did try to read my body language, they usually got it wrong. Kinesthetic communication is, it turns out, variable across cultures.

    Should I have dressed as those in the majority cultural group required because they weren’t used to dealing with Mormons? Should I have accepted discrimination when I didn’t?

    Seriously, answer those questions.

  19. I forgot to tackle the bit about identification through pictures. Okay, if we’re talking about picture ID, that’s something we’re beginning to move away from anyhow. Last night, RT pressed a thumbscanner at the grocery store rather than providing his driver’s license. A woman I worked for in California used Canada’s retinal scanning program to go through Immigration when she traveled for work. Such systems are great, not least because faces can be changed for a few thousand dollars.

    If we’re just talking about, “Hey, there’s Missy walking down the street!”, I don’t know what to say. Forcing a person to expose body parts she considers private so random people can identify her… wow.

  20. 15 Well Seth are you done yet? How did you handle Iran?


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