Why the Archbishop is wrong

Al Iguana has an interesting post this morning in which he draws attention to a sermon to be delivered by the Anglican Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, in the Eisteddfod:

“On such a day as this, we are given permission, if you like, to revel in our history as descendants of the original inhabitants of these islands.

“But although there is a new sense of identity in the nation, pride in its language dating back to the 6th century, its own literary tradition and a sense of belonging to a particular area of land, when we talk of nation, nationalism, nationhood, the debate can become very heated.

“We have seen and are still seeing the cost in human terms of the struggle for national identity in various parts of the world. We have seen what has happened in Yugoslavia, Israel, Palestine and parts of Africa.

“The challenge we face as a nation is keeping our identity and rejoicing in it without at the same time becoming narrowly nationalistic – xenophobic, even – or exclusive.

Having warned against the dangers of nationalism he goes on to warn of the dangers of religious fervour:

.. religion too can be used to demarcate people: those who belong and those who do not belong. A religious commitment can become a kind of tribal allegiance and religions can sometimes develop ways of policing the frontiers of the religious community to make sure that only the real insiders are inside and to ensure people cannot get in if they do not really believe.

“Both Judaism and Christianity have been guilty of this. Religious fervour has very often fuelled nationalistic fervour in most parts of the world. “It is quite a normal thing for humans to do and yet it can be one of the most demonic as we realise when we study any period of history.

What a load of old Bull.

Why single out nationalism and religious belief in this warning about hatred and violence?

One can be as passionate about socialism, liberalism or unionism as one can about nationalism - so what is so unique about nationalism that the Archbishop feels that it needs to be warned against more than any other political ism?

I've seen people get very heated about who is the best Dr Who (William Hartnell - of course) and come to blows in the Corry v Eastenders debate.
Football team rivalry has led to more than one murder. There is much more unity between Christians and Muslims in Wales than there is between Cardiff and Swansea supporters.

The fact is that any difference of opinion on any subject under the sun can lead to violence and hatred. By singling out two individual issues as being in need of special attention in warnings against hatred the Archbishop is adding to tensions, rather than reducing them.


  1. In this case the Archbishop, Dr Barry Morgan, is wrong.

    Disappointing, Your Eminence.

  2. In small Welsh communities the chapel and welsh language are used as divisive tools to people who were not born in that particular area or wales. I think the Bishop is trying for us not to narrow our minds and be accepting of difference.

  3. Barry Morgan is so PC he makes Rowan Williams look like the Rev Ian Paisley. I remember him a couple of years back saying that the Bible was "used against women" in the context of "domestic violence". No Christian would use a Bible to hit his wife, even though it's of suitable weight - it would be sacrilegious.

    Good speaker though. I heard him at Bangor Cathedral not so long back, standing in for the incumbent who was seriously ill. What he said was nonsense, but nonsense delivered with real passion.

  4. Its not nationalism that's the problem, its hauvinism (a different thing) Barry I think just loves to be controversial! just a way to keep him in the news.

  5. That should have been "chauvinism", of course! a sticky key :)