LONDON – Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who announced his resignation as Bishop of Rochester last week, has spoken out against a "values vacuum" in the United Kingdom, and called on the nation to rediscover its Christian heritage.
The bishop, who steps down in September, said that the U.K. had left behind the moral framework provided by the Bible in favor of diversity.
Writing in The Telegraph, he said that there had been a "gradual loss of identity and cohesiveness" in society due to the abandonment of biblical values, which had long been held in the country.
In particular, he said that societies' ideas about the sanctity of life, equality, natural rights and freedom all arose from a tradition rooted in the Bible.
He added that other faiths may have values which coincide with Bible-based values of the past, but said they would inevitably emphasize other aspects of life more than others, for example social solidarity over personal freedom.
Nazir-Ali claimed that there was a "values vacuum" caused by "historical amnesia" and which prompted the nation to remember and repent things like its involvement in the slave trade, exploitative colonialism and religious and ethnic persecution, but forget about things it should celebrate, such as the abolition of slavery, the Magna Carta, universal education and improving workers,' women's and children's rights.
While the church has been concerned about this, he noted that it had also sometimes been complicit in watching "the erosion of Christian tradition," for example in liberalizing abortion laws and the erosion of marriage and Christianity in public institutions.
The bishop affirmed his support for keeping the Church of England established, saying, "If the State wishes the Church to have a voice in its councils, why should the Church refuse such an opportunity – as long as it is without compromising Christian integrity."
He also criticized the view expressed by former Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, that the establishment of the Church depended on it "staying in tune" with society.
"The Church is seen as simply the religious aspect of society, there to endorse any change or chance which politicians deem fit to impose on an unsuspecting nation, rather than being the guardian of the Christian tradition which has provided for nearly everything valuable in this country," Nazir-Ali said.
The bishop also reiterated that he would be spending more time advocating for Christians who suffered persecution in other countries.