Former Archbishop praises Sidmouth’s spirit

The former Archbishop of Canterbury used a breakfast in Sidmouth to encourage Christians to stand up for their faith and praised the town’s community spirit

In a talk at Sidmouth Rugby Club, Lord Carey also attacked secularists in this country for trying to remove the debate on religion and science.

Lord Carey was speaking at a ‘Men’s Breakfast’ on Saturday morning and spoke about his involvement in the ‘Not Ashamed’ campaign, which urges followers to speak up for the Christian foundation of Britain.

He said: “There is an increasing campaign against religion. It started with 9/11 when Richard Dawkins and Peter Hitchens felt strongly that the western world’s problem was religion.”

He urged the Christian population, which is much larger than the small, but vocal, National Secular Society, to make themselves heard. He added: “Everything out of the NSS is trying to get everything religious out of public life. They’ve stopped a conversation which is sad, there should be a conversation with scientists, there is nothing to fear for Christians in science but they’ve stopped the debate.”

Lord Carey was the Archbishop of Canterbury for 11 years until his departure in 2002. Having grown up in the East End of London, he wasn’t a big believer, but he began to ask questions having attended Sunday School reluctantly. He said: “I began to look at the vicar and think ‘I could do your job’, and the vicar replied ‘I think you had better start believing first’.”

At the breakfast he spoke about his best and worst moments in the job. Both involved the church’s work in Africa, describing his enjoyment at seeing the work of the church in the continent, but also seeing the aftermath of the massacres in Rwanda in 1995.

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He was impressed with the work of the church in Sidmouth and praised its role in the town. He said: “The church is in good heart and has good relationships with the wider community.”

When asked about the role of the church in modern society, he said: “The cynic in me says David Cameron was worried about all the cuts and so invented the idea of ‘Big Society’ to try and placate everyone. But here, in a 12,000 person community there are 300 clubs or societies, in other words the ‘Big Society’ already exists here.

“The church has always been part of a big society.”

He ended by saying of Sidmouth: “I would like to come back at some point and have a real holiday. It needs to be promoted more, it is a beautiful place.”