The Church of England is set to call for greater European integration in a highly political move that will anger Eurosceptics just months before the general election.
In a document advising Britain’s 25 million Anglicans on voting in the election, the established church is set to call for greater support for European integration, as well as recommending the abandonment of Britain’s nuclear deterrent and questioning how effective the economic recovery has been.
The Telegraph reports that the document will say: “After the Second World War, the nations of Europe sought to rebuild for prosperity through a shared determination that never again would global neighbours resort to mass slaughter.
“English churchmen worked tirelessly to promote understanding and cooperation … That history is not an argument for the structures and institutions of the EU as they now exist. But it is an enduring argument for continuing to build structures of trust and cooperation between the nations of Europe.”
Just as controversial is the call to scrap Britain’s ‘Trident’ nuclear deterrent, a proposal supported by the radical left, including the Scottish National Party. The document says: “The sheer scale of indiscriminate destructive power represented by nuclear weapons such as Trident was only justifiable, if at all, by appeal to the principle of mutually assured destruction. Shifts in the global strategic realities mean that the traditional arguments for nuclear deterrence need re-examining.”
The letter is signed by all members of the House of Bishops, which comprises the most senior clergy of the Church of England, including the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, who last month said it was a “lie” that economic growth is the answer to social problems.
Although it is technically only addressed to members of the Church of England, the letter is billed as “a guide on how Christian men and women should vote”, suggesting the bishops wish to influence other Christians as well.
It also contains a series of statements on the economy that have been disputed by MPs and economists.
For example, it says that unemployment “has not risen as high as was predicted”, whereas unemployment has actually fallen slightly over past five years. It also says “the greatest burdens of austerity have not been born [sic] by those with the broadest shoulders,” despite Treasury figures suggesting the richest 10 percent contribute most to reducing the deficit.
Conservative MP Conor Burns said: “It is deeply disturbing that the church appears to be entering the political arena based on a series of clear misrepresentations of facts.
“The call to abandon our nuclear defence in increasingly uncertain times and for more EU integration with no consultation of the British public will rightly cause concern across the country.”