13 million people – including 3.6 million children – live in poverty in the UK today. A major new report shows how evidence and statistics have been misused, misrepresented and manipulated to create myths that blame and stigmatise the most vulnerable in society.
The report, entitled The lies we tell ourselves: ending comfortable myths about poverty, is published today – 1 March – by the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, Methodist and United Reformed Churches. It confronts the most common myths told about people who are in poverty or in receipt of benefits, and highlights some of the most abused statistics.
The Churches, which together represent more than 1 million people across Britain, say that statistics have been manipulated and misused by politicians and the media to support a comfortable but dangerous story: that the poor somehow deserve their poverty, and therefore deserve the cuts which they increasingly face. The Churches hope that the report will empower Christians and others to challenge myths and lies about poverty wherever they find them.
This St David's Day, the Revd Peter Noble, chaplain to Cardiff’s Lightship in the Bay and former moderator of the National Synod of Wales, takes a look at the life and legacy of Saint David.
When we think about Saint David (500-589AD) we have to imagine a context very different from our own. Think about the collapse of the Roman Empire, the ascendancy of paganism, and widespread questioning about the nature of the Christian faith, that had in part been inherited from the Roman presence and partly influenced by the Eastern Church through France.
Despite all of that fifth century Wales was, above all, the age of the Saints – of Illtud, Padarn, Teilo, Deiniol, Beuno, and of course Dewi. 1500 years ago the Christian community in Wales was not organised by hierarchy, or dioceses, or geography, but rather connexionally, in relationship with the ones we now call Saints and with their theology and liturgy. These great people of faith were ascetics who gathered communities (Llan) around themselves – hence Llanilltud Fawr, Llanddewi, Llanbadarn and Llandudno. It is said that there were more than 50 Llannau across Southern Wales that associated with Dewi and the monastery he founded in Glyn Rhosyn in Pembrokeshire on which the present St David’s Cathedral stands.
These influences and their context, in the light of the scriptural text and a search for an authentic Christian faith in and for their time, gave the Celtic Church its particular pattern and feel. That same “search” for an organic spirituality has to be ours in contemporary Wales. The history of the development of the Christian community belongs to us all in Wales. No one denomination can claim it. And realising that can open a rich resource for our ecumenical and missiological future.
Knowledge about Dewi is fact mixed with tradition. What we know of David comes largely from “The Life of David” written by Rhygyfarch of Llanbadarn (around 1090CE) using sources he claims that came from St David’s Cathedral archives. Written long after David’s death we can detect in it a certain “spin” that tries to keep “distance” between the Celtic Church and Canterbury.
Miriam Webb, Christian Aid and Commitment for Life intern working with FURY (Fellowship of United Reformed Youth), takes a sideways look at Fairtrade Fortnight – which runs from 25 February to 10 March – and reminds us all why we should be buying fairtrade products when we can
Food has been in the news a lot recently. In the light of the horsemeat scandal, people are once again starting to ask questions about where their food is really from, and how many hands it passes through before it reaches their plate. This is no bad thing. We should care about where our food is from, who grows it, who processes it and whether people get paid a fair price for it.
The Government’s new Energy Bill must prioritise low carbon power; say five of Britain’s major Churches.
In a statement published in today’s Financial Times, the United Reformed Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Church of Scotland, Methodist Church and Quakers join other major organisations in calling on the Government to make Britain a low-carbon economy.
The full statement reads:
“The Energy Bill represents a major opportunity to put the UK firmly on track to becoming a world leading low-carbon economy, boost employment and show genuine leadership in the fight against dangerous climate change. Our organisations jointly call on Members of Parliament to seize this unique opportunity to commit the UK in the Energy Bill to have a near carbon free power sector by 2030, in line with the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change.