Jennie Pollock
Jubilee+ interviewed about Welby speech

In a speech to the TUC last week, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, spoke out about the oppression of the vulnerable through the gig-economy, payday lenders like Wonga, and companies like Amazon avoiding paying taxes.

While some welcomed his speech, and his answers to questions afterwards, many others criticised the Archbishop for getting involved in politics at all. Natalie Williams was invited onto BBC Surrey and Sussex and asked what she thought. Was Welby right to make his speech?

“I absolutely think he was right to make that speech,” she replied, “Jesus himself criticised the religious leaders of his day for not speaking out. He said they did a lot of things to look outwardly religious, but they had neglected what Jesus himself called ‘the weightier matters’ of mercy and justice. The Bible is clear that those who worship God are supposed to speak up for those who don’t have a voice themselves, and for the rights of the poorest and most vulnerable and the oppressed.”

Most people in our society seem very happy for churches to run foodbanks, night shelters, debt centres and soup kitchens, she explained, but the Archbishop and other Christians would be negligent if they didn’t also look upstream and look at how we might prevent the crises from happening in the first place.

“I’m involved in some work to tackle slavery,”  she told Emily Jeffery. “We rescue victims and we help survivors rebuild their lives, but if we don’t get the changes to legislation that we need, then that cycle will never end.”

Local churches across the country are involved in the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people each week. We are uniquely placed to see first-hand the effects of poverty and some of the issues addressed by the Archbishop on the people in our communities. Knowing what we know, we should speak out, and we should address all political parties and institutions that hold power over the vulnerable, and say, “Please change things so that there’s more justice in our society and so that the poorest can be lifted out of their poverty and flourish and thrive, not be pushed further into it.”

You can hear the full interview on BBC iPlayer until 15 October. The interview begins at around the 2:09:30 mark.