Archbishop of Canterbury  Rev Justin Welby

Reverend Justin Welby urges faith leaders to find a way to offer young people a “purpose in life” that can provide an alternative to extremism, which he claims they are moving towards because it is more “exciting.” He accepted questions from the gathering, and urged the group to be open to people and groups with alternative views. He warns against over-using the phrase “extremism.”

Extremism by Welby

Rev. Welby shared what his experience has taught him. He says he found that, “The longer I do this job the more I see that politics involves making incredibly difficult decisions with too few resources, too little information and too much hurry.” He feels that it is uncommon to find a politician who isn’t doing their best. “I think we have to recognize that some problems don’t have good solutions.” He turned the question back towards the religious leaders, asking “What are we doing that provides a narrative about purpose in life and commitment to society and benefits of a purposeful, flourishing life that is so exciting that the evil temptations offered by extremist groups of all cultures and types anywhere in the world including this country are simply paled into insignificance.”

He explained what extremism meant to him, adding that it’s “always someone else,” because who announces that they are extremists? He says that after dealing with conflict, “you only deal with it when you deal with the people who are the extremists.” He feels that extremism is a problem if it “advocates violence and disruption and oppression.” He adds that “if we define extremism too widely, then we narrow the mainstream too much, then its only nice people talking to nice people about being nice, then you can’t make much difference.”

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