CANTERBURY, England (RNS) — Anti-Semitism is “deeply embedded” in British culture, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said.
“We’ve seen a very sharp rise over the last year or so in anti-Semitic expression. It is absolutely intolerable,” Welby told a gathering of Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Muslim leaders at his Lambeth Palace residence in London on May 19.
“It’s deeply imbedded in so much of our culture in this country, as is racism,” added the archbishop, who is the spiritual leader of the world’s 75 million Anglicans.
Welby said he was “not looking at any political party.” But his comments follow harsh criticism of the Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, over anti-Semitic remarks by some of its members. Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone and member of parliament Naz Shah were suspended from the party for making statements that attacked Jews.
The Anglican head lashed out at those organizing attacks on Jews, as well as on mosques, and at unnamed politicians who, he said, are fomenting religious and ethnic tensions.
He warned Christians not to be judgmental when it comes to dealing with members of other religions. And he said those who followed a faith should not be seen as leading “parallel lives” to the rest of society.
Christianity is the main religion in Britain. Out of a total population of 64 million, there are around 3 million Muslims, 900,000 Hindus, 700,000 Sikhs and 300,000 Jews.