From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ACNS3237 Archbishop of Canterbury delivers the 2002 Richar d

From "Anglican Communion News Service" <>
Date Fri, 20 Dec 2002 12:39:41 -0000

ACNS 3237     |     LAMBETH PALACE     |     20 DECEMBER 2002 

Archbishop of Canterbury delivers the 2002 Richard Dimbleby Lecture

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has warned that the rise of
"button pushing" politics in Britain is eroding the basic democratic
traditions which underpin a healthy society.

In his first major address as Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Williams
described the emergence of a new market-based model of the state: "By
pushing politics towards a consumerist model, with the state as the
guarantor of 'purchasing power', [the market state] raises short-term
expectations. By raising short-term expectations it invites instability,
reactive administration, rule by opinion poll and pressure."

Delivering the annual Dimbleby lecture to an invited audience at Westminster
School, Dr Williams added: "The apparently simple and attractive picture of
a more direct relation between individuals and government, the button
pushing model, a contract that can be honoured by the prompt delivery of
what the consumer orders is not the ideal of democratic debate, but parody
of it."

Education, he said, faced a particular challenge:

"We are no longer confident of educating children in a tradition. Schools
can't do the job of a whole society, sustaining a 'tradition' on behalf of
the whole community, an accepted set of perspectives on human priorities and
relationships, a feel for the conventions of common life; they can do a
certain amount of damage limitation in the context of a rootless social
environment, but cannot of themselves sustain a culture that can command
loyalty outside the school gates."

Dr Williams argued that in the face of such challenges, religion had a
fundamental role to play in providing a wider context and setting for our
understanding of who we were as individuals and communities.

"The historic role of the Church of England has been and still is making
space available. Its history-its constitutional position-however
controversial that has become for some-means that it is obliged just to be
there, speaking a certain language, telling a certain story, witnessing to
certain non-negotiable things about humanity and the context in which
humanity lives."

Dr Williams added, "We are bound to ask where there is a future for the
reasonable citizen, for public debate about what is due to human beings, for
intelligent argument about goals beyond the next election. My conclusion is
that this future depends heavily on those perspectives that are offered by
religious belief."

The lecture was established in 1972.

The lecture was broadcast on BBC1 TV Thursday 19th December 2002 at 10.35pm.

[The text of the 2002 Richard Dimbleby Lecture is available as ACNS3236 and
may be downloaded as a PDF file - see]

The ACNSlist is published by the Anglican Communion Office, London.

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