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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 19 December, 2002, 11:28 GMT
Archbishop launches moral crusade
Dr Rowan Williams
His first speech challenged the government
The new Archbishop of Canterbury has accused politicians of putting too much emphasis on the short-term needs of voters and ignoring moral issues.

In his first speech since taking up office at the start of the month, Dr Rowan Williams said church leaders instead of governments will have to form a moral basis for society.

He said that without religion "our whole politics is likely to be in deep trouble."

Policies that restrict lifestyle choices are electoral suicide

Dr Rowan Williams
The speech, which forms this year's Dimbleby lecture, was delivered to church leaders, politicians and other opinion formers and will be broadcast on BBC One on Thursday evening.

It shows Dr Williams is ready to challenge the government - particularly its willingness to allow the market to provide for people's needs, according to BBC religious affairs correspondent, Robert Piggott.

Terror risk

The archbishop said modern politics was about satisfying consumer demand.

"Policies that restrict lifestyle choices are electoral suicide," he told the audience at the lecture recorded on Wednesday.

In contrast religion could put short-term material needs in perspective, he argued.

Predecessor Dr George Carey
Dr Williams succeeded Dr George Carey
Governments were no longer able to guarantee long-term security post -11 September and it is God who has to define how we live.

And Dr Williams also spoke of the "sinister implications" of electronic communications which helped al-Qaeda saying international conspiracy was harder than ever to detect.

"Al-Qaeda and similar networks inhabit a virtual world, not an identifiable headquarters in a single place."

Breaking the cycle

His speech took as its starting point work by American academic and former White House adviser Philip Bobbitt which focuses on the shift from a nation state to a market state.

The international power of the markets and consumers meant any one country was unable to guarantee employment, he said.

On education, he criticised the focus on exam results and parental choice which reflected the focus on consumerism.

He warned a society without deeper meaning behind its culture could lose itself.

"Groundhog Day is a comic horror but a real enough one: we know how easily we can get stuck in repeating patterns," he said.

Christianity could provide people with morality to avoid repeating those mistakes.

The former Archbishop of Wales also touched upon the economic situation in south east Wales where he has lived for the past decade.

He highlighted how the downturn in the global economy has had an impact on job prospects.

The 2002 Richard Dimbleby memorial lecture will be broadcast on BBC One at 2230 on Thursday 19 December.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Niall Dickson:
"His message: we have moved from the nation state to the market state"

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