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The government thinks conservative Christians are ‘extremists’, says Justin Welby

Archbishop Justin Welby (AP)

Archbishop Justin Welby has warned that Government officials know so little about religion that conservative evangelicals would be counted as extremists by their own definition.

The most senior cleric of the Church of English said the Government can see no difference between Muslim extremists and traditionalist Christians so both groups are dismissed as “a bit bonkers”.

His comments came in an address to head teachers of Church of England school in the Anglican Diocese of Bath and Wells.

The Telegraph quoted Archbishop Welby as saying: “Our Government generally is desperately trying to catch up, to understand a world in which they have no grip on what it is to be religious at all; where religious illiteracy is prevalent and extremely destructive of understanding and where they can’t see really the difference between an extremist Muslim group like the Muslim Brotherhood and a sort of conservative evangelical group in a Church of England church.”

He went on to highlight the rise of religiously motivated violence, which he said is reaching levels not seen since the aftermath of the Reformation.

Archbishop Welby went on to suggest that most Government workers lack “religious literacy”.

He added: “It’s fine to reject and condemn many of the things done in the name of religion but you still need to understand what it is that can so catch hold of someone that they think life itself is not worth living if that contradicts what they believe.”