Two weeks ago, the Right Rev Stephen Venner, retired as the Bishop of Dover and moved to Rochester with his wife Judy.
After retirement, the Right Rev Stephen Venner continued his role as the Bishop to the British armed forces, a role he has held since July 2009. After moving to Rochester, Right Rev Stephen Venner put his right foot as well as his left foot into his big, loud mouth.
In an interview with the Telegraph, the Right Rev Stephen Venner said that "the Taliban can perhaps be admired for their conviction to their faith and their sense of loyalty to each other." He added that "there's a large number of things that the Taliban say and stand for which none of us in the West could approve, but simply to say therefore that everything they do is bad is not helping the situation.”
To sum up, the Right Rev Stephen Venner said that we should not demonise the Taliban.
Needless to say, this unexpected support for the Taliban resulted in an outcry. The Right Rev Stephen Venner has been accused of giving comfort and succour to the enemy.
The Nazis were brave and courageous, at least some of them. They were good at organising themselves and from what I remember from reading Paul Kennedy’s ‘Rise and Fall of Great Powers’, even towards the end of the Second World War, the German army was losing only one soldier for every four or five Soviet soldiers they killed. However, it would be disgusting to admire the Nazi’s courage or loyalty to their cause or their organisational skills.
The Taliban are a bad bunch. Period. Their unquestioning loyalty to their brand of Islam is exactly what makes them so bad. It is a quality which should not and cannot be admired.
The Right Rev Stephen Venner’s comments however prove something I have always suspected. Almost all religious leaders without exception like the idea of unquestioning followers. They would like to Talibanise their flock. They would like to have sheep who do as they are ordered to do, people who follow religious edicts to the letter. Let’s admit it, till a century, there were lots of Christians in the West who were as Taliban as their Afghan brethren. There still are lots of Indian Hindus and Christians who are as fanatic about their religion as the Taliban are. The only reason they don’t stoop to murder and mayhem as often is because they won’t get away with it. The Gujarat riots are a case in point. I have heard more than one evangelical Christian and Hindu tell me exactly what the Right Rev Stephen Venner has said: that they admired the Taliban’s conviction and courage and wished they could replicate it within their own religion.
The Right Rev Stephen Venner has proved that there are Taliban in every religion.
The Right Rev Stephen Venner has done the right thing by apologising. Now he must resign.