Page last updated at 06:17 GMT, Thursday, 5 June 2008 07:17 UK

'Rampant consumerism' criticised

Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu
The Archbishop of York said society needed to 'rediscover compassion'

The Archbishop of York has blamed the Labour government for allowing what he calls "rampant consumerism" to control Britain's moral values.

Dr John Sentamu said the imperative of doing the right thing had been replaced by the imperative of buying the right thing whatever the cost.

He also told the Institute of Jewish Policy Research government bureaucracy was putting civil liberties at risk.

He said "petty-mindedness" in politics was threatening personal freedom.

He added that religion could act to counter-balance interference from the state.

"Such petty-mindedness can be combated with the generosity of the divine," said Dr Sentamu.

'Consumer appetite'

He told his audience: "Our current government is in danger of sacrificing liberty in favour of an abused form of equality - not a meaningful equality that enables the excluded to be brought into society, but rather an equality based on diktat and bureaucracy."

Dr Sentamu also criticised a "rapacious consumer appetite", which had developed at the expense of people's sense of responsibility.

"One of the many mantras of the New Labour party of a decade ago was that of 'rights and responsibilities'," he said.

"Seemingly unfettered rights and entitlements have come to the fore whilst responsibility has not simply gone out of fashion but seems to have fallen off the radar."

He added: "Our society needs once more to rediscover the compassion and service at the heart of religion."

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