08 February 2008

ABC's Shari'a Row

The Archbishop of Canterbury has clearly overstepped the mark, once again, with his latest misunderstanding of the nature of Islam. However, Conservative MP Mark Pritchard is surely equally mistaken to suggest that the church should not get involved in politics.

The Bible is full of political guidance with contemporary significance on issues as diverse as education and economics, criminal justice and land reform, welfare and international relations — and, indeed, immigration and social cohesion. Rowan Williams' mistake was not his getting involved in politics, but his apparent confusion over some fundamentals of religion.


David Waddell said...

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2)

I think Archbishop Rowan's comments have been both accidentally and wilfully misinterpreted by the press and politicians of all sides. I think he should have understood this might happen. However, fear of misinterpretation should not be the primary driver ahead of offering considered comments. Many accuse him of making a serious error of judgement. However, he has opened a debate on the subject and surely this is what he intended. Perhaps he is surprised at the ferocity of criticism he now faces. Who wouldn't be upset by this? But let's consider for a moment the drive behind his argument... This country is fast becoming one in which conscience (any conscience, not just religious) is irrelevant as legislation marches forward. Remember the row over the Catholic adoption agencies who were unhappy to consider same sex couples to parent vulnerable children? I don't want to get into all the arguments over that row here, but it is indicative of a wider trend. Remember also Shambo the cow, slaughtered by agricultural officials? Again, there will be mixed views on whether this was right. But it raises questions for the future. Conscience can no longer be used as an excuse for behaving with principle. If a new law makes it difficult to behave with a clean conscience, we must - it seems - like it or lump it! This will create ever more problems in the years ahead as we Christians are told to conform. Doesn't Revelations point to this? No, Sharia should not be imposed here in the UK, but perhaps where Muslims in civil dispute with each other can - by consent - find resolution through Sharia we should welcome this before insisting on dragging them through the courts. Secularism is on the march. Perhaps we should stand together against this secularism. The secularists have no desire to be forced to obey religious laws. Neither have I any desire to be forced by secularists to disavow my own conscience.

The Stonemason said...

The Archbishop is being howled at from so many sides that I suspect he may be a prophet. He has touched a nerve - the fear of Islam in this country - and nobody can bear to speak about that fear except by shouts of outrage nd hatred. It reminds me of the equally irrational reaction in Muslim countries over Pope Benedict's lecture in Germany in 2006.

Mary Douglas said...

This is not primarily about freedom of conscience or even just the place of faith in the life of a nation. It is about the place of CHRISTIANITY in the life of THIS nation.

Did you know that Parliament, since 1567, starts each day’s business with a prayer. ‘Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and her government, to Members of Parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit. May they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed. Amen’

And did you know that the BBC has a plaque in the entrance hall of Broadcasting House dedicating it to Almighty God with the ‘prayer that good seed sown may bring forth a good harvest, that all things hostile to peace or purity may be banished from this house, and that the people, inclining their ear to whatsoever things are beautiful and honest and of good report, may tread the path of wisdom and uprightness’.

Did you know that in the Coronation Oath, since 1689 and still used today, the Sovereign promises, ‘to maintain the laws of God and the true profession of the gospel.’

Have you read Queen Victoria’s message to two African chiefs, in which she wrote that ‘England has become great and happy by the knowledge of the true God and Jesus Christ’.

Have you seen, above the main entrance to the Law Courts in London, the full-size statue of Jesus Christ?

Those who maintain that Great Britain is a secular nation are wrong. As a matter of fact and history and identity, they are fundamentally wrong.

God and Great Britain go back a long way. And, in the words of a plaque I saw outside a church on Remembrance Day,

‘God does not forget’