Photo Credit: Lambeth Palace
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has joined other Christian and Jewish leaders to speak out against the rise of anti-Semitism in the UK and the persecution of Christians in many parts of the world. Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis; the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols; and the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Great Britain, Archbishop Gregorious; are amongst the religious leaders who co-signed a letter to The Times newspaper today (Thursday). The religious leaders, Co-Presidents of the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ), used their letter to express concern about the rise in anti-Semitism in the UK.
“Anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic discourse is noticeably growing in public life and within social media in the UK”, they said. “As leaders of the Jewish and Christian communities in the UK we are concerned where this situation may lead. Anti-Semitism has no place in our society and those in positions of power and influence must listen to these concerns. Similarly we continue to speak out on anti-Christian sentiment and persecution of Christians in many parts of the world.”
They continued: “we affirm our belief that all humankind is made in God’s image. In our respective faiths we pursue the biblical commandment to uphold a community that is fair to its people and generous to the stranger. Our faiths compel us to speak to defend truth, celebrate our diversity and common humanity, be a voice for those in need and seek transformation for the common good.
“We call on people of faith to act together with us to promote religious and cultural understanding and advance the elimination of religious and racial prejudice, with particular reference to antisemitism, through education, dialogue, and social action.”
The other signatories were Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism; Dr Susan Brown, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; Joseph Dweck, Senior Rabbi of the S&P Sephardi Community; Danny Rich, Senior Rabbi and Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism; Dr Hugh Osgood, Moderator of the Free Churches; and Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism.
The Chair of CCJ, Bishop of Lichfield Dr Michael Ipgrave, welcomed the letter, saying it came at a time when a survey has shown a sharp rise in concern about anti-Jewish sentiment in the UK, with 29 per cent of Jews saying they had considered emigrating as a result.
“Churches today have a particular responsibility to address historic Christian anti-Judaism which in some cases still informs prejudice in our society”, he said. “We must inspire people of faith to act to eradicate antisemitism from society and seek to build together a community which respects the individual, celebrates diversity, and pursues the common good.”