Archbishop of York: "English Christians ain't persecuted"

Archbishop of York John Sentamu has edited a collection of essays called 'On Rock or Sand? Firm Foundations for Britain's Future'Reuters

The Archbishop of York John Sentamu has dismissed the idea that British Christians experience persecution, in an interview to coincide with the publication of a set of essays on the problem of inequality in Britain.

"I lived in Uganda during the time of Idi Amin... and our archbishop was murdered by Idi Amin," Sentamu said in an interview with The Spectator.

"I had to get out of Uganda because I had opposed Amin on a number of things which I didn't think were ethically right... I know what persecution looks like. What is happening at the moment in England, it ain't persecution."

The Archbishop has edited a collection of essays entitled 'On Rock or Sand? Firm Foundations for Britain's Future', due to be published next week. It's a contemporary take on the Church of England's 1985 'Faith and the City' report, which critiqued the state of Britain's inner cities.

Both Sentamu and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby have written a chapter of the book, which is dedicated to "hard-pressed families on poverty wages". Other contributors include experts in economic, political and social disciplines.

It's no coincidence that the book is being published at the start of the General Election campaign; indeed, Sentamu is calling for the Church to intervene in politics, particularly on issues of social justice.

According to the Telegraph, the book "advocates a new redistribution of wealth, quoting the slogan popularised by Karl Marx: 'From each, according to his resources, to each, according to his need.'"

But the Archbishop of York says his political stance, which includes a staunch defence of the welfare as an example of the biblical command to "love thy neighbour", is based on theology.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Sentamu said: "That sounds extremely left wing doesn't it?

"The truth is it is the theology of where I am coming from.

"If God has created us unique, [and] all of us have got his image and likeness, is it ever right that I should have more when somebody else has nothing?"

In his interview with the Spectator, the Archbishop of York is particularly critical of the way in which immigration is discussed in parliament, saying that politicians need "to recognise first and foremost this has been a country of immigrants, really".

Welby's essay criticises the idea that economic growth is the solution to all of Britain's social ills, particularly highlighting the growing disparity between London (and the surrounding area) and the rest of the country.

"We believe that if we can fix the economy, the fixing of human beings will automatically follow," Welby writes.

"That is a lie.

"It is a lie because it is a narrative that casts money, rather than humanity, as the protagonist of God's story."