Archbishop of York John Sentamu blesses the Sun on Sunday Newspaper

I’m going to take advantage of Ekklesia’s Creative Commons License and nick the following, written by Jonathan Bartley:

I remember having a conversation with Giles Fraser a couple of years ago about writing for the Daily Mail. He has always been of the opinion that you can legitimately take an opportunity to write – even if it’s for a publication whose values you strongly disagree with.

The Archbishop of York’s column in the new Sun on Sunday goes way beyond that debate. It isn’t just about writing for the new Murdoch paper to replace NOTW. He has gone one stage further and endorsed the new publication, and for that matter the Monday to Saturday Sun newspaper at the same time. Not just implicitly, but explicitly. This is how he introduces his column:

“When I think that we can now get the latest news, politics and sports stories seven days a week from our country’s favourite paper, all I can say is ‘WOW!’ ”

Bishop John Davies has already publicly criticised John Sentamu’s decision this morning on BBC1’s Big Questions, saying that he should think again. The Archbishop meanwhile has been justifying what he has done, on Twitter, pointing out that he is giving the money he earns from the column to charity, and reiterating that he feels that it is important to give people the chance of a fresh start.

Fresh starts are important. By his own admission however, this is not so much a fresh start as an extension of the Monday-Saturday Sun. He knows the values of the paper. He knows the way it treats vulnerable groups. He knows the way it portrays women. He has chosen not just to write for it, but to celebrate it, and give it his public endorsement – some will say, his blessing.


I must say I’m sympathetic with the Ekklesia stance and feel Sentamu has misjudged this one.

What do you think?

UPDATE: For a different take, this is worth a read.

7 comments on this post.
  1. Drew_Mac:

    I don’t suppose an Archbishop would have gotten away with saying “WTF!”

    Am I the only person who thinks that his remarks about The Sun are VERY much tongue-in-cheek, ironic hyperbole?

    I thought it was only The Sun readers who wouldn’t get it!

  2. Ben Trovato:

    Hyperbole, yes, but I don’t see the irony myself. I have no problem with his writing for the paper, but question his judgement in extolling it. If it was meant to be a joke, it could at least have been funny.

  3. Ian:

    Wow Drew! He certainly had me fooled.

  4. Martin Jones:

    I prefer to sit on the fence on this one. I simply don’t believe that his fawning endorsement of the soaraway Sun was meant to be ironic, but rather a feeble attempt to chime with the 3 million or so who bought the paper.

    On the other hand you can’t but admire his courage in getting his hands dirty in an attempt to reach millions to whom Christianity is simply an irrelevance.

    In Sunday’s article (yes I did buy it) he was able to explain the significance of Lent and equate it with the Sunday Sun’s ‘new beginning’, encourage people to buy Fair Trade goods, and argue a point about young people not being exploited in the government’s work scheme with major employers.

    How else would he have such an opportunity? However it will be interesting to see whether he will directly criticise Sun journalists and editors who are now in the frame for making illegal payments to journalists, and indeed whether Murdoch will allow him the opportunity of doing so in his paper.

    It could all strategic of course, and the Archbishop is just waiting for the opportunity to denounce Murdoch’s evil empire in a most public way by ceasing his involvement and storming off in righteous indignation when the next bombshell about the Sun’s misdoings explodes.

    However such manoeuverings have a habit of backfiring. If this is his tactic the public is likely see through it and quickly weary of such posturing that looks very clever at the time, but lacks substance and credibility in the long term.

  5. Newton Green:

    In John Sentamu we have a spiritual Archbishop. In ‘The Sun on Sunday’ we have a few million readers who might well not have had any spiritual points to consider in their newspaper reading for that day. However, they were reminded of the need for a spiritual MOT now and then, the season of Lent being a good time for the purpose. As Jesus put it, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”(Luke.5. 31) So, who was Jesus? The Word, made flesh, who dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. The Archbishop has gone where a need exists. Long may he do so.
    Newton Green (author; “God, Ghosts, and Independent Minds”)

  6. Martin Jones:

    True, Newton, but I’m wondering just how many of the 3 million who read the paper will get past ogling ‘Rowl Model’ Kelly Rowland displaying her wares on page 3, to ponder the finer points of the Archbishop’s spiritual messages on page 13.

    Like it or not, he is by association endorsing an exploitative view of women as sex objects (and other negative stances the Sun takes and has taken in the past), by appearing in the same publication and furthermore by endorsing it so wholeheartedly… ie “The country’s favourite newspaper, all I can say is WOW!” … “if you can buy the Sun seven days a week, even better.” Inappropriate, naive, ill-considered.

  7. ABY: Anyone But York for Archbishop of Canterbury – Telegraph Blogs:

    [...] The bookies favour the Archbishop of York because he is the only other cleric in the Church of England known to the public and the media. He is famous for his stance on Robert Mugabe (he cut up his collar in protest at the despot’s regime and has sworn not to wear it again until Mugabe quits), throwing himself out of aircraft for British service personnel and, most recently, writing for The Sun on Sunday. [...]