Taking part in a riot can be an ecstatic, spiritual experience, says senior Church of England bishop

A senior Church of England bishop declared yesterday that rioting could be ‘an ecstatic, spiritual experience’.

The Right Reverend Peter Price said rioters in last summer’s deadly disturbances found spiritual escape as they looted and burned.

He spoke out as the Church’s parliament, the General Synod, approved a report that blamed last August’s four days of disorder on Government spending cuts, inequality and ‘structural sin’ in the rest of society.

Dr Price, 68, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, said it was important to ‘sound a clear warning note about the social consequences of austerity measures which hit the most vulnerable hardest and leave the very rich unscathed. When the nation tightens its belt, inevitably the least resilient are those who suffer most.’

He continued: ‘I have no intention of being sentimental about the people, mainly young people, who took to the streets last August and destroyed property, ruined other people’s lives and walked off with looted trophies.

‘Riots embody appalling evil and criminality and those who get drawn in often display great wickedness.’

But he added: ‘Rioting can be, literally, an ecstatic, spiritual experience. Something is released in the participants which takes them out of themselves as a kind of spiritual escape.

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