UK
18/02/2015 17:24 GMT | Updated 18/02/2015 17:59 GMT

Church Of England Slammed For General Election Guidelines: 12 Times The Church Meddled In Poltics

The Church of England's leading bishops have claimed they have a "duty" to discuss politics - but their 52-page manifesto for the general election has drawn bitter complaints of left-wing "Tory-bashing".

MP Nadine Dorries hit out at the Church, saying it shouldn't wade into politics "when actually no-one is asking it to".

But the Church of England and Catholic Church have always been political - ever since Henry II famously said "will no-one rid me of this troublesome priest?" in reference to his ill-fated advisor Thomas Beckett.

david cameron bishop

Justin Welby is one of many outspoken bishops

And the CoE doesn't mind being a bunch of troublesome priests. It even makes that point in its lengthy voting document, saying: "Some people, including some in the positions of influence in the media, politics and elsewhere, claim that religion and politics cannot mix.

"[But] it is not possible to separate the way a person perceives his or her place in the created order from their beliefs, religious or otherwise, about how the world’s affairs ought to be arranged."

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Elizabeth Oldfield, the director of Christian think tank Theos, told The Huffington Post UK last year: "Church voices don't fit easily into either party, many leaders are socially conservative, but also welfarist, pro-immigration. You can't fit the church in a box of left or right. This means they are always being critical, and tend to annoy most governments."

As these 12 examples show, the UK's Christian figures have a long history of sticking their noses into politics, but often at the expense of Tory policies.

10 Times The Church Intervened In British Politics