Rowan Williams: I’d like more “equipped, sophisticated spokespeople” in religious broadcasting

The former Archbishop of Canterbury says he'd like to hear religious broadcasting inspire a "proper conversation" on rights, law and morality

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Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams says religious broadcasting should play a greater role in discussing society’s biggest dilemmas, and shaping national debate.

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Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, Williams argued the perspectives of religious groups should be more valued in the State’s discussion of law, rights and morality, and that religious broadcasting could help bridge the gap.

“There are at least two ways of thinking about religious broadcasting,” Williams said. “One would be rather propagandistic; just explaining where you are and why other people ought to believe it.

“But the other is perhaps more conversational. I’d certainly like to hear in religious broadcasting a proper discussion of some of these things with equipped, sophisticated religious spokespeople engaging.

“It’s a matter of how these conversations burgeon across society.”

When asked what role the arts in general could play in creating better-rounded national debate, the former Archbishop, who writes poetry and has had a collection of his work published, said that they were crucial. 

He added that good artists, whether they are religious or not, always challenge purely functional and simplistic ways of looking at the world.

“So I’d like to think that the arts are an ally in reinstating the debate that allows some depth to our sense of what’s human. I’m very pleased that our theatre in this country, for example, continues to produce drama with real moral weight and vision.

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“It’s a healthy sign.”