Should the church stay out of politics asks Bishop Jonathan at Harold Wilson Lecture



“SHOULD THE CHURCH stay out of politics?” is one of the questions the first Bishop of Huddersfield will address when he delivers the prestigious Harold Wilson lecture at the town’s university later this month.

It’s a thorny issue – not least because of the national comment raised by last month’s 52-page pastoral letter from the Church of England Bishops Who is My Neighbour? urging congregations to vote in the General Election.

And it is timely, coming as it does, on April 23 less than two weeks before voters go to the polls to decide the next Government.

The Harold Wilson lectures have been jointly run by the University of Huddersfield and the historic Diocese of Wakefield since they were pioneered by the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten in 2004. They have attracted a rich plethora of speakers from the world of politics, theology and academia including Lord Ashdown, Ann Widdecombe, the late Tony Benn and Robert Winston.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield,  Professor Bob Cryan said: “The Harold Wilson Lecture is now entering its second decade and is firmly established as an important part of the year at the University of Huddersfield and for the town and district as a whole.

“It is therefore fitting that our latest lecturer should be Bishop Jonathan.  As the first Bishop of Huddersfield, he represents the opening of a new chapter.  But he also commemorates the long and fruitful relationship we had with the former Diocese of Wakefield in organising these popular and thought-provoking lectures.”

For Bishop Jonathan, theology and politics is a subject close to his heart having studied both subjects at university – and he has already chaired two local hustings events.

He will ask, how can the church stay out of politics when God is concerned with the whole of human life?  Surely the church has a responsibility to take part and contribute to how that shared life is formed.

He said: “ It is great to be invited to deliver this lecture – especially at this time – and to bring together these twin themes.

“Some would argue the bishops should be a voice for the voiceless, others that they should speak truth to power. Wherever the church is, it should join and encourage the debate about our shared future and seek to raise peoples eyes to a bigger vision of what human beings and society can truly be. "

Tickets for the event which starts at 6.30pm on Thursday 23 April at the University of Huddersfield can be obtained by booking online at, emailing HaroldWilsonLecture [at] or telephone 01484 471568’

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