Canterbury Tales: British Armed Forces Bishop urges sympathy for the Devil

Just as Rowen Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury arches his back in subservience to radical Islam, Rt. Reverend Stephen Venner, Bishop of the British Armed Forces clearly knows nothing of the Taliban.

From The Telegraph U.K.

Taliban can be admired for their faith and loyalty, says bishop

The Taliban can be admired for their conviction to their faith and their sense of loyalty to one another, the new Bishop for the Armed Forces has claimed.

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones and Duncan Gardham
Published: 5:52PM GMT 13 Dec 2009
Taliban militants - Taliban can be admired for their faith and loyalty, says bishop

Taliban militants in Afghanistan Photo: AP

The Rt Rev Stephen Venner called for a more sympathetic approach to the Islamic fundamentalists that recognises their humanity.

The Church of England’s Bishop to the Forces warned that it will be harder to reach a peaceful solution to the war if the Afghan insurgents are portrayed too negatively.

His comments came as the Prime Minister visited Afghanistan and warned that the Taliban was fighting a “guerilla war” aimed at causing “maximum damage”. Gordon Brown said soldiers were discovering improvised explosive devices every two hours.

Mr Brown stayed overnight in the Allied base in the southern city of Kandahar, the first British Prime Minister to spend the night in a war zone since Winston Churchill. His visit came days after the death of Lance Corporal Adam Drane, the 100th member of the British forces to die in Afghanistan this year. His death brought the total number of British service personnel who have died since the start of operations in 2001 to 237.

Bishop Venner stressed his admiration for the sacrifices made by the British forces fighting in Afghanistan but also urged the need for a reassessment of how the Taliban are viewed.

“We’ve been too simplistic in our attitude towards the Taliban,” said Bishop Venner, who was recently commissioned in his new role by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

“There’s a large number of things that the Taliban say and stand for which none of us in the west could approve, but simply to say therefore that everything they do is bad is not helping the situation because it’s not honest really.

“The Taliban can perhaps be admired for their conviction to their faith and their sense of loyalty to each other.”

Besides their attacks on the armed forces, the Taliban have also been responsible for public beatings, amputations and executions and have launched bomb attacks on the civilian population in Afghanistan.

They often refer to foreign forces as “Crusaders” in an echo of the religious wars of the Middle Ages.

The bishop said that some of their methods of combat are not honourable or acceptable, but argued that it was unhelpful to demonise them.

“We must remember that there are a lot of people who are under their influence for a whole range of reasons, and we simply can’t lump all of those together.

“To blanket them all as evil and paint them as black is not helpful in a very complex situation.”

Bishop Venner said that everyone in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, would have to be included in discussions to find a solution to the conflict.

“Afghanistan is going we hope in the end to find a way to live together with justice and prosperity for all. In order to do that we have to involve all the people of Afghanistan to find it.

“It is that lasting and just peace that will in the end justify the sacrifices our servicemen and women have made.”

In the meantime, he said, the Government has “a moral duty” to ensure that the army is properly equipped.

Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander in Afghanistan who has written about the insurgency, said the bishop was being naïve.

“We clearly need to understand our enemy but that is more of a military issue rather than a religious one,” he said.

“There are elements in the Taliban who do not act from a religious perspective and it is important to understand and turn them around.

“But there are many others who will not be persuaded. Their central creed and ethos is about violent oppression which comes from a politics of extreme religion that has very little to commend it in terms that we would recognise or appreciate.

“In many ways it is a mistake to compare their faith of extreme holy war with the kind of religion of peace and understanding that the bishop follows. They certainly wouldn’t show understanding of his faith.”

Earlier this year, Peter Davies, the mayor of Doncaster, claimed that British society could learn from Taliban family values. He said that under the Taliban, Afghanistan had an “ordered system of family life”.

Last month David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, offered parts of the Taliban “an alternative to fighting” and said men now fighting against British forces should be encouraged to sit in the Afghan parliament.

His comments came a day after a new military strategy was unveiled that talked of the need to negotiate with the Taliban, offering them money or immunity from prosecution in order to secure peace.

One Reply to “Canterbury Tales: British Armed Forces Bishop urges sympathy for the Devil”

  1. I’m sure there will be hundreds of quite rightly offended people blogging and emailing about this despicable man’s comments. My gripe is twofold though. First what is this crazy position he holds “Bishop to the armed forces” what’s that. Some government paid for post that serves no purpose apart from adding fuel to the enemy’s fire.
    I have read his statement which was that “the Taliban can be admired for their faith and loyalty”. How much clearer does it have to get. He complains that the Telegraph quoted him out of context and yet it is still a despicable comment. What if it was a politician being interviewed and they just mentioned (in a small way) that all foreigners were bad people. Only a small comment. He would rightly expect to be not only criticised but to lose his job and possible criminal proceedings.
    This is what I expect from our government on this issue. For a person in his position to come out with that is nothing short of treason. How can he be trusted? I would have him on permanent surveillance in case he was leaking secrets to his beloved Taliban.
    He must be bitterly disappointed that his Christians aren’t as faithful and loyal as the fanatics he so admires. He must hate Sunday’s when no one gets stoned to death for working.
    The man is a fool and needs to be told. I would love to be able to talk to him face to face about this but alas it will not happen.

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