Archbishop slates bankers' bonuses

Rowan WilliamsPrime Minister David Cameron recently said that the UK is a Christian country "and we should not be afraid to say so".

But leading church figures have used their Christmas messages to condemn the unfairness of British society under the pro-business, anti-trade union coalition and to attack the unfettered greed of capitalism, in particular, bankers' bonuses.

Dr Rowan Williams

In his Christmas Day sermon at Canterbury Cathedral the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said: "Bonds have been broken, trust abused and lost." He urged people not to build lives based on selfishness and fear.

He lamented: "Whether it is an urban rioter, mindlessly burning down a small shop that serves his community, or a speculator turning his back on the question of who bears the ultimate cost for his acquisitive adventures in the virtual reality of today's financial world, the picture is of atoms spinning apart in the dark."

Dr John Sentamu

On Christmas Eve, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, writing in the Yorkshire Post (new window) castigated the UK's unfair society where bankers "who helped cause the economic crisis not only keep their jobs but rake in massive bonuses."

He demanded a change of leadership by those in government. "Difficult choices have to be made, but people and justice must be at the centre of all decision-making in our country," he said.

In the article he asked: "Can it be right that public sector workers, and those who work in British industry, face losing their jobs when those high earners in the banking sector who helped cause the economic crisis not only keep their jobs but rake in massive bonuses?"

He went on: "We have created a situation where many people live in relative poverty, while others have far more than they can ever hope to spend. In fact, the divide between the wages of the rich and the poor is growing."

David Cameron

If Mr Cameron believes Britain is – or at least should be – a Christian country, he has been given a clear message from the country's leading Christians telling him what he has to do.

Don't hold your breath.
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