Frances Gibb: Was Archbishop’s obscure phrasing and bad timing to blame for uproar?

What did the Archbishop say?

Dr Williams said that it “seems unavoidable” that some aspects of Sharia would be adopted in Britain. He urged that the law do more to accommodate the religious convictions and practices of other faith groups .

Why have his comments prompted such a furore?

Sharia is controversial in the West because ”“ as the Archbishop put it ”“ it calls up “all the darkest images of Islam”. He added: “What most people think they know of Sharia is that it is repressive towards women and wedded to archaic and brutal physical punishments,” such as stoning, flogging and amputation.

Timing is another factor: his comments come during heightened tensions over fundamentalist Islam’s link with terrorism, along with growing concern that English law, influenced by political correctness, is bending over to favour or accommodate minority ethnic beliefs, practices and sensitivities in a way that it would not for mainstream Christian ones.

Another reason is that Dr Williams, a highly erudite man, expresses his thoughts in nuanced and complex language that is not easily accessible and open to widespread misunderstanding. Many commentators are unclear exactly what he said, and even those who attended his lecture agreed that they would have to go away to digest its contents.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Islam, Other Faiths

74 comments on “Frances Gibb: Was Archbishop’s obscure phrasing and bad timing to blame for uproar?

  1. Sir Highmoor says:

    Well at least secular society has the same problem we in the AC have with the ABC which can be best summed up as: “What did he mean?”

  2. DonGander says:

    “….expresses his thoughts in nuanced and complex language that is not easily accessible and open to widespread misunderstanding. Many commentators are unclear exactly what he said,…”

    I have heard that Einstien said something like, most any person can understand complex phenomenon, but it takes a genious to be able to communicate those phenomenon in a simple manner.

    The ABC seems to be no genious by those terms.

  3. Nikolaus says:

    Obscure phrasing, bad timing, erudition, nuanced and complex language…

    None of it is really excusable for anyone in his position. Despite his years in office and the things he has been through, he is still wildly unaware of the impact of his office.

  4. Newbie Anglican says:

    Frankly, I think there is an uproar because
    1. Rowan Williams said something wrong, offensive, dangerous, and stupid, and
    2. He had already exhausted the good will of many.
    I really don’t think obscure phrasing is the problem this time.

  5. BabyBlue says:

    He probably should have just gone home and talked to his wife. I think she would have straightened him out forthwith.

    This isn’t the first time this has happened to him. This appears to show that he has a staff that is badly mismanaged or completely inept or are actually trying to undermine him – or he’s just totally unsuited for his public role as the Archbishop of Canterbury at this particular time.

    I am inclined to think that he was picked because some thought he would be a “useful idiot” – a sort of “Hollywood casting” of the Archbishop of Canterbury who would project an image that all is well in the Church of England. He had certainly always attended the right meetings but always kept just under the wire to draw to much unhelpful attention to himself. There was shock when he called the primates together right after Columbus 2003, as though he didn’t realize the primates would undermine all that the progressives were doing to steer the Church toward social progressivism in the United States, Canada, and the UK. He wasn’t so useful after all.

    But this current episode went global – in fact, I woke up yesterday morning to hearing it being discussed on a top-rated DC talk radio as a topic of the day. The discussion included talk about the schism in the Episcopal Church and that this was a sign that something is wrong in the Anglican Communion. The remarks beg the question of whether Canterbury has lost his common sense – or that his staff is offering him poor counsel. One of the hosts is a retired congressman and current Episcopalian. He was distancing himself and seemed to express genuine aghast over Canterbury’s blunder.

    You do start to wonder if Rowan Williams is isolated now and surrounded by those who tell him what he wants to hear. This month he will pass the five-year mark as the Archbishop of Canterbury. It’s just too late to say he doesn’t know what he’s doing. But it’s not too early to inquire how he is running his office and whether he is indeed suited to the role. When he was originally nominated there was still an idea that all the fuss would be smoothed over, but the leadership of the US Church must have projected him a supporter of their efforts and went forward with the election of Gene Robinson four months after Dr. Williams enthronement. That he would turn around and call the primates together (and now almost won’t have anything to do with them as a group) signals that they are struggling to keep him under control. The fact that the primates now will not come to his aid again signals that things are not well.

    Underneath this uproar is that so many Episcopalians and Anglicans of whatever theological stream can unite over the idea of impositing of sharia law in the West. Now we have something we all agree with (no liberal in their right mind would support sharia for what it costs women) and Rowan Williams is left flapping in the wind.


  6. Daniel says:

    I, for one, am offended at this typical, liberal spin on a verbal faux pas by one of the poster children for inclusivity/diversity, driven by white, Western, liberal guilt based on an inability to feel good about, and defend classic, orthodox Christianity because it is not perfect and has done some bad things in the name of God.

    What particularly irks me is the Anglican/Episcopalian tendency (are you listening ACI) to act like the laity are too dumb to understand the complicated, highly nuanced and learned discourse in which the clerical cognoscenti engage. Jesus didn’t seem to have too much trouble communicating clearly with the common people of His time. Hiding behind Byzantine, turgid prose should be banned. Repeat after me – eschew obfuscation, eschew obfuscation …

  7. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    “eschew”, “obfuscation” – yes we need more everyday words like these.

    There is no doubt that this has been a total horlicks. Hopefully the damage in Muslim dominated areas can be limited, but from what I hear on the media and radio the reaction continues. The strength of reaction may have been exacerbated, sorry made worse, by the pc/multi-cultural agenda that we in Britain have had rammed down our throats. Dr Williams just pressed the button and….BOOM!

    He still has a problem to sort out with the North African Christians in particular.

  8. Chazaq says:

    Hey Robroy, I think I beat you at “Bash The Bishop”. On my first try, I scored 172 and only missed 14.

  9. stevenanderson says:

    Right on, postings 4 and 5. No more excuses for Williams. He cannot recover from these five years of being unaware of how his statements and actions (and lack of them) do damage. One has to wonder which is worse–he doesn’t understand what he says and the impact of it or he understands completely and simply doesn’t care. If he speaks in such “nuanced” language that he cannot communicate what he means he needs to withdraw to a place where nobody hears him. We all know the definition of insanity that is repeated action that expects different results. This archbishop just doesn’t get it.
    No man so repeatedly confused and “shocked” by reactions to him can hope to “lead” the very people he cannot understand. So, step aside, Your Grace.

  10. Jeff Thimsen says:

    Nuanced and obscure or just plain dumb?

  11. DonGander says:

    “Nuanced and obscure or just plain dumb? ”

    I tend to think that with some subject individuals that the differentiation implied in that interrogatory sentence is, indeed, clouded.

  12. Paula Loughlin says:

    Is there a method in place for the Queen to request the resignation of an ABC? I think the Archbishop is much more suited for the world of academia and would very rightly be in his element there. I sometimes wonder if his heart just ain’t in his current position.

  13. dwstroudmd+ says:

    Well, I am sure, sure I tell you, that all the illiterate Muslims in the world under Sharia law are making haste, absolute haste, to engage in literacy programs so they can achieve a comprehension of English that will allow them to understand the nuanced and sublime expression of the ABC in regard to limitation of their religious law when it is emplaced in the West. No doubt they will be so enthralled by the eschewal of obfuscation in the ABC’s turgid, rhetorical style that they will immediately abdicate any thought of over-enforcement in response to this over-acceptance and all the world will be at peace forevermore and forevermore.

    Has the President of Iran revoked Sharia on the basis of the ABC’s eloquence so turbid that even native English speakers practiced in the arcania of law cannot understand it? Yemen? Egypt? Is the main stream media avoiding the outbreak of total peace on the basis of these nuanced and subservient dhimmitudes of the ABC?

    Why, oh why, are liberals, conservatives, orthodox, reappraisers, and secularists upset with this ABC?

    Perhaps, he did not make himself clear? He doesn’t seem to know what he meant at present.

    Perhaps, he erred and strayed and committed sins of commission and omission to a degree intolerable even to secularists? That is, he crossed them.

    Perhaps he is TOTALLY WRONG in his over-acceptance, multi-culturalist, guilt-of-the-white-man’s-burden-absolving abdication of common sense? The Brits seem to think this way.

    It is indeed difficult to decide amongst the options for not one of them bodes aught of good for the ABC on too many levels. Fortunately for him, Sharia is not employable in the UK at present, or the call for off with his head would have many actual ramifications in the present and not just in the liberal-multiculturalist-pie-in-the-sky
    future he deludes himself into imagining.

  14. Philip Bowers says:

    [blockquote]his thoughts in nuanced and complex language that is not easily accessible and open to widespread misunderstanding[/blockquote]

    This has been the standard excuse for misunderstanding of the ABC for a long time. I don’t buy it. He is not so nuanced as he is obscure and unclear at times, and very clear at other times. When he wants to be clear he can so be. Finally, he is clear, after four years of obscurity about discipline of TEC, that there will be no such discipline.

  15. William S says:

    I don’t think it’s the way the ABC communicates which is the problem. I believe it’s the way he thinks.

    Some of us (probably most posters on this site) try to identify a concept, a course of action, an argument which leads to a conclusion, and then use words to clarify that to ourselves and to others. With the ABC it seems to me he uses words to open up possible new meanings rather than to point his hearers to a single meaning. He likes to qualify any statement he makes and to bring together different viewpoints into a synthesis.

    Here is a sentence which illustrates both approaches, from his lecture:
    [blockquote]if we are to think intelligently about the relations between Islam and British law, we need a fair amount of ‘deconstruction’ of crude oppositions and mythologies, whether of the nature of sharia or the nature of the Enlightenment[/blockquote]

    We aren’t being invited to do anything – but to think intelligently . We don’t need ‘deconstruction’ but a ‘(qualifier) fair amount’ of deconstruction. And pointing up oppositions between world-views is ‘crude’.

    If you want straight talking, linear arguments leading to clear conclusions and forthright action, you won’t get it from the ABC, because his mind doesn’t work that way.

  16. Paula Loughlin says:

    dwstroudmd. You owe me a monitor.

  17. Choir Stall says:

    Perhaps the Archbishop should remember the biblical encouragement to “let your yes be a yes and your no be a no”. JUST SAY WHAT YOU MEAN AND KEEP IT SIMPLE. Good enough.

  18. John Wilkins says:

    Friends, why is it we always expect ABC to be a perfect man. Why don’t we expect more of ourselves, as sinners? By being nuanced, complex and precise, he is honoring our intelligence. he is assuming we aren’t stupid.

    Sad that we can’t expect more of ourselves. Perhaps we’d end up having to repent of our wicked ways.

  19. Katherine says:

    Dear, dear Pageantmaster, I hope you enjoy the American idiom as much as I do the British. Is “a total horlicks” a phrase I could use in polite conversation?

  20. Katherine says:

    John Wilkins, the Archbishop is nuanced and complex but anything but precise. That’s precisely the problem.

  21. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Dear Katherine
    It is a hot drink made with a powder, malt based and hot milk I think which is often given to children. You might use it in polite conversation to indicate a complete mess, presumably as spilt horlicks or spilt milk. You might use it in the same way that you might say ‘bother’ or [Anglican] fudge.

  22. Katherine says:

    Thank you, Pageantmaster. Quite a mild phrase, in fact. I had imagined much worse, but then your diction is never extreme. 🙂

  23. Dr. William Tighe says:

    Re: #5,

    “I am inclined to think that he was picked because some thought he would be a “useful idiot” – a sort of “Hollywood casting” of the Archbishop of Canterbury who would project an image that all is well in the Church of England.”

    In some ways rather like Michael Ramsey during his archiepiscopate. I am sorry to have to write this, since I met and conversed with Lord and Lady Ramsey during my years in England, but for all of his style and piety (both genuine) Ramsey voted for the 1967 Abortion Act in the House of Lords, and when he could have nipped the beginning of the movement for WO on the basis of “provincial autonomy” (1971 at the first ACC meeting at Limuru) in the bud he took no action (he could easily have invoked and imitated the reaction of Archbishop Fisher to the purported ordination of Lee Tim Oi in Hong Kong in 1944). One thinks here of what I think is the best couple of sentences that Karl Marx ever penned, “Hegel says somewhere that all great historical facts and personages recur twice. He forgot to add: ‘Once as tragedy, and again as farce’.” (*The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte*).

    And re: #12,

    “Is there a method in place for the Queen to request the resignation of an ABC?”

    It seems that barely a month passes here or at SF without this question being asked. The answer is “no.” Her Britannic Majesty (acting upon the advice of Her Government) may make any such “request” that she pleases, but My Lord of Canterbury can simply refuse. In fact, unless he decides to retire early, commits and is convicted of a crime which would enable his removal, or passes prematurely to his reward, he can remain as ABoC until June 13, 2021 (the day preceding his 71st birthday).

  24. wildfire says:

    For once, the Guardian [url=,,2255112,00.html]leader[/url] summed up my thoughts on this thoroughly depressing episode:

    In the next world, perhaps, Dr Williams’ arguments will be discussed only in the tones of mellow precision that are the mark of his own timbre. He might be applauded for arguing that Muslim weddings deserve the same legal standing as those of many other faiths, but gently chided for not giving enough emphasis to equality under the law. In this world, however, nuance is not always met with nuance. And public figures can only control their influence on public life by recognising that.

    The leader also referred to his “naivety.” Pageantmaster, don’t you guys have any of those little whatsyamacallits that go over the top of letters? If not, you can borrow some from the French now that you are in Europe. They have lots to spare.

  25. Henry Greville says:

    “expresses his thoughts in nuanced and complex language that is not easily accessible and open to widespread misunderstanding” – perhaps this is why many Anglicans sensed that he was the less desirable choice for ABofC than Bishop Nazir-Ali.

  26. Pb says:

    Obscure phrases start with obscure thinking.

  27. Peter Dewberry says:

    Rowan Williams is not only responsible for the Church of England, as ABC he heads the worldwide Anglican Communion as one of its so-called “instruments of unity”. His position therefore requires questions to be asked of him, and answered by him.

    These are:
    1. “Before the lecture did he give any thought to the conditions faced by millions of Anglicans and other Christians already living under Sharia?”

    2. Did he consider whether his lecture would put more pressure on them and the restrictions such as special taxes that Sharia requires them to pay as non-Muslims?”

    3. Did he think about Christians (Anglicans included) who live along the “fault-line” in Africa between the Muslim north and Christian south. This “fault-line” is especially unstable in Northern Nigeria and Southern Sudan, where Christians daily face the danger of death from Muslims?

    4. Christians chafing under Sharia, will be asked by their Muslim neighbors, why are you being difficult, your ABC says you should adapt.

    Peter Dewberry

  28. Terry Tee says:

    I would like to enter a plea for a little-noticed aspect of collateral damage: the reputation of theology. As a theology graduate myself I was horrified to hear on the BBC News yesterday the Religious Affairs Correspondent say something like the following (here I paraphrase fairly accurately): ‘I have spoken to someone who was an undergraduate at Oxford under Rowan Williams and who told me that he came out of lectures, thinking, first, “That was wonderful” then a little later thinking: “What was that about?” and not having a clue. He told me that it was like bubbles rising in the air.’ Bubbles rising in the air? Theology is described as this? I have to admit: my compatriots in impatiently secular Britain do indeed have a low view of theology as vapid, unearthed and pointless. Comments like this will only confirm what they think – as will the whole debate about Rowan Williams as being unable to express any truth succinctly.

  29. Newbie Anglican says:

    #23, Thank you, Dr. Tighe. However if Her Majesty were to invite the ABC to tea and ask him to resign – very graciously, of course – I’m confident he would.

  30. John Wilkins says:

    Peter, you seem to misplace the blame: this is firmly a media construction. We should be asking why the press has decided to make this an issue. Rowan was talking about England, and about the reality of Islamic courts in a multicultural society in England. He is the archbishop of Canterbury. he has no perogative in any country where Muslims rule. He should not be blamed for Sharia in those countries: Muslims should. Our expectations of him are that of another messiah.

    Rowan may have made a mistake, but let us remember that the media is making this into something far greater than it really is.

    What Rowan MIGHT say in a Muslim country with local Christians could be far different than what he would say in England. We don’t know because we haven’t asked him.

    See the economist article above.

  31. Bob G+ says:

    I have to ask, as an American, why do we tend to condemn intelligence? The Archbishop speaks in paragraphs, not sound-bites. Why are we only willing to process sound-bites. Anglicanism is supposed to be a faith tradition that honors reason. It seems too many of us don’t want thoughtful engagement with society, just a demand that it conform to our perception of things.
    Comment piece from Madeleine Bunting of the Guardian (UK):

    So why does Williams do it? He’s not naive… What this is about is stubbornness. What his staff know full well is that he simply is not prepared to collude any more than he has to in a type of public debate that he regards as simplistic and sloganised. He is a subtle and sophisticated thinker, and sees no reason why he can’t bring those qualities to public life. Why should he speak any differently in public to how he does in an Oxbridge theology seminar?

    Why, oh why indeed. There are so many answers to that question… Yet despite all that, there is something mad and admirable here.

    He was honouring his audience last night – many of whom were lawyers and academics – by engaging them in a complex exploratory argument. Here is a fine mind at work: what sort of anti-intellectual populism assumes we should be able to easily understand everything he says? It’s a bad day when all our public figures are trapped in a parade of simplistic, anodyne platitudes: our politics have reached that degree of non-speak, and bishops are close behind them. What Williams did was defy all media convention – it was a rebellion against the spin and public relations mediation of public life; buried in all the frustration, there has to be a measure of awe for someone so recklessly prepared to buck the system and continue to be what he is – a big mind and a big heart but without a political bone in his body.

  32. Paula Loughlin says:

    I guess photoshopping the good Archbishop’s face over that of one of the Ten Most Wanted is out of the question. Then praying for retirement it is.

  33. Bob G+ says:

    Paula (#32) Did you read his lecture? It is very good and very important for anyone concerned about the secular State’s infringement upon people of faith. I recommend it. [url=]
    Here is the text of his lecture[/url].

    Here is his opening paragraph:

    “The title of this series of lectures signals the existence of what is very widely felt to be a growing challenge in our society – that is, the presence of communities which, while no less ‘law-abiding’ than the rest of the population, relate to something other than the British legal system alone. But, as I hope to suggest, the issues that arise around what level of public or legal recognition, if any, might be allowed to the legal provisions of a religious group, are not peculiar to Islam: we might recall that, while the law of the Church of England is the law of the land, its daily operation is in the hands of authorities to whom considerable independence is granted. And beyond the specific issues that arise in relation to the practicalities of recognition or delegation, there are large questions in the background about what we understand by and expect from the law, questions that are more sharply focused than ever in a largely secular social environment. I shall therefore be concentrating on certain issues around Islamic law to begin with, in order to open up some of these wider matters.”

  34. azusa says:

    This is the reality of sharia, for Christians in Egypt:

    I can’t imagine any of these suffering Christians would EVER look to Williams to be their pastor.

  35. Bob G+ says:

    Let me try the link to the Archbishop’s lecture, once again.
    There is the link

  36. Bob G+ says:

    The Gordian (#34) I ask you the same question I asked Paula: Did you read his lecture? If you haven’t, why do you insist on basing your comments on wrong assumptions about his intent? This results in the shredding of gossip and the bearing of false witness. If you have read it, then you know that his concerns deal as much with the rights of Christians and Jews within a secular society than with Muslims. If you read his lecture, you would know that he used Sharia as an example for his overarching point.

  37. Dale Rye says:

    Re #35: Yes, they read it. However, it is easier to attack a man they already dislike intensely using the lying summaries from the media than to engage what he actually said. Anglicans obviously do not really want their Archbishop to pitch his discourse at an appropriate level for the lager louts who read [i]The Sun[/i]. Whipping up the outrage of the Great Unwashed is simply a useful tool in trying to get rid of somebody they distrust precisely because he is an independent thinker who will not reliably follow either the reappraiser or reasserter party line.

  38. Bob G+ says:

    Dale – Too bad for us (as Americans/Brits and as Anglicans)! Is this honestly what we have to look forward to? How can we seriously believe we want Truth if we are not willing to engage in the process of finding it?

  39. Paula Loughlin says:

    Condescending much? Dale. And yes I have read the lecture. It tired my fingers but I did manage. Though I did have to take great sips of domestic beer while doing so. Tain’t easy being one of the barely literate yobs.

  40. Bob G+ says:

    Paula, what exactly did you disagree with, then?

  41. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #33 and #37 To say that people have just not read the Lecture is not the case. I read both the Lecture and the transcript of the Interview in which Dr Williams developed the ideas he set out in the Lecture. I suspect others did as well. The Lecture was finely crafted in the way that Dr. Williams’ comments in the Interview were not. It is what Dr. Williams said in the Interview, developing and summarising his Lecture that are the issue and which you may say were naïve but may also be read as clarifying exactly what he was saying. Poring scorn on people or diiverting attention to the Lecture will not wash.

    There is an issue, for Anglicans in north Africa in particular which needs to be addressed and dealt with.

    Bob G. have you read the transcrip to the Interview which is one the ABC’s site [url=]here[/url].

  42. Sarah1 says:

    “. . . diverting attention to the Lecture . . . ”


    But it’s pleasant to watch them earnestly and consistently attempt to do so. ; > )

  43. dwstroudmd+ says:

    Having read them, I must be way behind on my lager, since I appear to have fallen in with the louts per BobG+ and Dale. Alas, my sober opinion and -still sober- opinion is that regardless of the high esteem with which they and apparently one Brit hold the loquacious and bristly ABC, he is heard not on his own terms but on the terms of his hearers. Surely he learned that in Seminary in Preaching 100. If he insists on casting pearls before the lowly illiterate swine of the world, neither he nor BobG+ nor Dale nor I can keep them from hearing what they think he said. That is true in the literate west and more true in the illiterate Islamic world.

    What do they teach in schools these days?

    And no one, but no one, twisted his arm to get him to talk to the interviewer. The speaker has the duty to speak to the audience; not the ideal audience, not the Platonic audience, not the college-lager-lout audience, but the one on the other side of the microphone and video feed. If the ABC cannot do that, then he can at least do the duty of keeping his mouth SHUT in venues in which misunderstanding is rife and sought. If he did know this, then he has learned a valuable lesson at the cost of his credibility in office. Blame the unwashed masses all you wish, but the fault lies not in them or the stars but in himself.

  44. Bob G+ says:

    41. Pageantmaster – I’ve read both. Give me an example from the ABS’s actual words of what you disagree with. Where do you think there is mistake in his assessment of the reality of the British situation as it stands today?

  45. Paula Loughlin says:

    Bob G+ I hope you will excuse me from making a rebuttel right now. I just finished making a batch of soap and I am to put it mildly plum tuckered out.

  46. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Bob G – please read my comments on other threads on T19 if you would think it a worthwhile exercise.

  47. dwstroudmd+ says:

    Alas, the ever-insightful and politically correct seems to be amongst the lager louts so decried by Dale:

    and a similar crowd in Washington, DC:

    Who’d da thunk it? Champagne louts are confused too. Blimey!!! It must be in the ABC, mus’n’t?

  48. wildfire says:

    Bob G #31

    I too found the Bunting piece very insightful. But your excerpts really mischaracterize her analysis, which begins by mentioning the “perfect media storm” the ABC has created and then notes the faces of “ashen white” of the assembled legal establishment at the lecture in the Royal Courts of Justice. Indeed, one really must “fill in the dots” of your ellipsis:

    Why, oh why indeed. There are so many answers to that question. Because you would have avoided an already demoralised Church of England being publicly humiliated. Because this speech will be a byword for the failures of liberal Anglicanism for decades. Because it’s a terrible preface to the Anglican communion’s Lambeth conference this summer. Because you now have a whole new batch of incensed critics. Because … Yet despite all that, there is something mad and admirable here.

    When one is forced to dismiss as “lager louts” or, as I read elsewhere, the “mob,” everyone from the legal establishment on down, one seriously needs to stop blaming the listeners and start asking whether the Archbishop didn’t in fact make a tiny booboo in his speech.

    I have not criticized the Archbishop’s speech. My position tonight is, I suspect, precisely the same as his: I wish he had had the judgment of one of the lager louts and not given the silly thing.

  49. Dale Rye says:

    My point is not that those who are criticizing the interview or the lecture after reading it are lager louts, but that many of those who can clearly understand what he was getting at have made no effort to correct the impression created by the tabloids. The uproar is based on the popular impression that +Rowan called for the creation of a parallel legal system for the Muslim community in which women would be treated as chattels and hands would be amputated, or, worse, called for some of the features of that system to be merged into English law and imposed on non-Muslims. He quite clearly did not say that and those who are saying that he did are (to be tactful) “saying what is not the case.”

    Originally, I—like Bob G+—assumed that those who were stirring up the fuss had read only the headlines or the media summaries and had not engaged what +Rowan actually said in the interview or in the lecture. Sadly, I have concluded that for this to still be going on three days later, the driving force has to be people who HAVE read them and don’t care what he actually said. They are just taking the opportunity to rid themselves of a troublesome priest.

  50. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Dale – Are Lord Carey and the RC Cardinal of Westminster lager-louts or not understanding deliberately? They are commenting in the Sunday Telegraph which I have just looked at – and by the way I don’t approve of the media frenzy which is going on in the UK.

  51. Bob G+ says:

    Pageantmaster – I read through your comments under a few threads, particularly under the thread “What did the Archbishop actually say?” and I read a lot of responses you made concerning news reports and the pronouncements of others, but nothing concerning what you disagree with from the lecture itself or of the veracity of his comments during the interview. You are commenting on comments, which is fine in-and-of-itself, but not what I was hoping for. If we want to know what really is, and not from just sound-bites or knee-jerk reactions, we have to deal with the source, which is the lecture.

    The ABC was painfully clear that what he is talking about within the U.K. is not the barbaric forms of enforcement of particular interpretations of Sharia law, such as may be experienced in parts of North Africa. If the lecture is considered, and even his comments in the interview, the hysterics of the media and its accomplices are unwarranted and unjustified. The misunderstanding of his intent or the spin for ideological purposes is the cause of any negative implications for Anglicans (or anyone) in Northern Africa and not Rowan’s actual thoughts expressed in the address or interview.

    My hope is that you (and Paula and others) might give examples of actually disagreements you have with his lecture or the points of inaccuracy you perceive within the interview itself. You may decide that my request or that dealing with the ABC’s actual lecture, from which everything flows rightly or wrongly, isn’t worth the time. That’s fine, but…

  52. wildfire says:

    They are just taking the opportunity to rid themselves of a troublesome priest.

    Dale, I agree that this is the case for some (many?) of the critics. I have been distressed to see the “piling on” by many prominent figures in the UK. But I do think they account for a minority of the responses. What troubles me most is the apparent inability to foresee this very predictable result. Is there a love of intellectual provocation that is debilitating to his role as Archbishop of Canterbury? Do we perhaps also see some of this in his dealings with the Anglican Communion?

    The noted legal philosopher, Ronald Dworkin, was an associate at the law firm where I spent my legal career. He did not become a partner. He was before my time, and I have no knowledge of the circumstances, but I suspect it had something to do with the fact that clients do not pay for legal philosophy. He went on to one of the most spectacular academic [url=]careers[/url] of our era, and I’m sure he has no regrets about leaving the drudgery of client work.

    Rowan Williams is not a legal philosopher of the rank of Ronald Dworkin, but one similarity is that the CofE does not pay its bishops for legal philosophy. I hope Rowan Williams can take this lesson to heart and go on to become one of the great Archbishops of Canterbury.

  53. Bob G+ says:

    I think he is a troublesome priest, not because he is trying to be but because this is just who and what he is – primarily an excellent academic. He challenges us where we don’t want to be challenged and he gets excoriated for it. Perhaps his kind is not the best for a leadership position right now, but perhaps he is what we NEED, not necessarily what some of us WANT. And goodness knows, we’ve come to the point were what we want is far more important to us than what we may need. I think this is what Bunting is getting at in her final paragraph even after her critique of the Archbishop.

  54. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    I don’t particularly want to Bob G+ as I think matters are inflamed enough as it is but since you insist here are some points:
    A. Marriage Disputes – from the Interview:
    [blockquote]CL I suppose more often than not, that is what Sharia is equated with, is it not?

    ABC That’s what it’s associated with and I noted in the lecture that there are some Muslim scholars who say you can barely use the word Sharia because of what people associate with it, which for a practising Muslim is quite difficult because they don’t see it in that light; and I think one of the points again that’s come up very interestingly in recent discussion between Muslim and other legal theorists is the way in which take for example the role of women; in the original context of Islamic law, quite often provisions relating to women are more enlightened than others of their day; that you have to translate that into a setting where actually that whole area, the rights and liberties of women has moved on and the principle, the vision, that animates the Islamic legal provision needs broadening because of that.

    CL So for example one of the examples you give where Sharia might be applied is in relation to marriage; what would that look like; what would that mean for example a British Muslim woman suddenly given the choice to settle a dispute via a Sharia route as opposed to the existing British legal system?

    ABC It’s very important hat you mention there the word ‘choice’; I think it would be quite wrong to say that we could ever licence so to speak a system of law for some community which gave people no right of appeal, no way of exercising the rights that are guaranteed to them as citizens in general, so that a woman in such circumstances would have to know that she was not signing away for good and all; now this is a matter of detail that I don’t know enough about the detail of the law in the Islamic law in this context; I’m simply saying that there are ways of looking at marital dispute for example within discussions that go on among some contemporary scholars which provide an alternative to the divorce courts as we understand them. In some cultural and religious settings they would seem more appropriate.[/blockquote]
    Just some background on English Matrimonial law.
    1. Voluntary Agreements. Parties to a marriage may by agreement settle any disputes between them. This will however be binding in honour only and there are specific provisions which provide that any agreement [including a pre-nuptual agreement] will not oust the jurisdiction of the English Court and English law. Thus it is quite possible for a woman and a man to go to a group of elders in a mosque or their church or anywhere else and they may agree with that advice and act accordingly and voluntarily. The law will not recognise or enforce their agreement unless they have gone to an English Court and in the context of proceedings obtained the Court’s sanction.

    2. Arbitration Agreements. English courts do recognise certain arbitration agreements entered into and recognised by English Law and subject to the approval of their composition and rules. Such arbitration decisions and any award or agreement made under them are recognised and enforceable in English Courts. They are subject to appeal on matters of law or wrong procedure but not on findings of fact unless the decision was manifestly wrong or capricious. Once voluntarily submitted to their is no turning back.

    3. Recognition by English law of voluntary submission to Sharia Courts. Now were there to be recognition of a Sharia Court’s decision in relation to divorce proceedings by our law and Courts even if it could be ‘appealed’, then the reality is that the person submitting could be in a worse position than they would have been in in an English court. Children are often involved and finances. Our current system works well for all our citizens and I personally think it would be quite wrong to permit another system, even if voluntarily entered into [there is of course no objection to agreement between the parties in the form of 1. above]. I am also doubtful if womens’ position will be protected in this system if living in a community, poorly educated or not speaking good English [which is often the case] and surrounded by in-laws.

    The Archbishop talks about an ability to appeal such a tribunal or Sharia Court. If the degree of recognition by English law is anything more than the non-binding voluntary arrangement in 1. above then an appelant will have the burden of appealing a finding or asking for their voluntary submission to be set aside. I find this idea totally abhorant. All women, Muslim or otherwise deserve the full protection of our law. Any form of recognition of a Sharia Tribunal or Court in my view would be quite wrong and I disagree with the Archbishop’s premise.

    2. The position of the Archbishop as head of the worldwide Communion
    I believe the whole tone of this exchange in the Lecture and Interview was extremely unwise.
    Looking at the publicity for the Lecture series here it is quite clear that the organisers wrote about it as ‘Academics push to merge Shariah and English Law’ [url= ]here[/url]
    Given Dr Williams responsibility to Anglicans in Africa who are resisting the introduction of Sharia law in areas where they live and who are suffering persecution under it I think it was extremely ill-advised of him to participate in it at all. He ran the risk, whether considered by him and his advisors or not of his involvement being used in areas and contexts which no-one can imagine. That is why I called for an apology.

    Like Mark McCall I sincerely hope he will be able to put this episode behind him and learn from it. Our system in England can be brutal and I regret very much what he is going through at the moment.

  55. Oldman says:

    A different perspective!
    I have read both his lecture and the interview, plus comments by others including certain Bishops and press reports in order to be informed enough to deconstruct his lecture, at least from a world wide perspective. I believe he was incredibly brilliant while at the same time incredibly stupid. Here he is, the head of the world wide Anglican Communion and should have known the ramifications of his words, intended or not, to the plight of Christians in Muslim countries who at best are barely tolerated, at worst intimidated and persecuted. To name just a few of those countries: Nigeria, Indonesia, Egypt, Uganda, and more. As I have said before on this subject, I have lived in those parts of the world, except Central Africa and Nigeria. Christians are persecuted at worst or sent to the back of the bus at the least. I can’t imagine how much this will damage the indigenous Christians, but worst it shows, rightly or not, to the Anglicans of those worlds that their supreme Archbishop is trying to make accommodation for the Shariah in a Christian country when their Muslim brothers make no accommodation for the Christian Creed and Beliefs in their countries.

    The Shariah is the great bug-a-boo in those areas where Muslim rulers persecute or are intolerant of all that do not follow the Shariah. You must understand that the Shariah is a lot more than the Ten Commandments or the Articles of Religion. It is an eternal devout code of conduct for Muslims as well as punishment for infidels and apostates. A Muslim can not think it is archaic, and, to a large extent their whole day by day concept of Islam lies in the Shariah.

    By the way, as was suggested somewhere above, the Shariah can not be changed and never will be. It, like the Qur’an, cannot even be translated, but must be recited and implemented in Arabic.

    I hope the Archbishops of Jerusalem and Singapore will offer their take on the Archbishop Rowan’s lecture and interview. It might open a few eyes and hearts to the problems that Christians face when dealing with Islam in Islamic countries and the suffering the Shariah produces, even for Muslims.

    Also, as an after thought, the WHOLE Shariah must be accepted, not just a few parts. I don’t think the idea of allowing Shariah type courts to handle a few small parts is possible. To a good Muslim, it is all or nothing.

    This old person could be flogged for even saying what I just did.

  56. Peter Dewberry says:

    John Wilkins,
    No matter where blame ultimately lies, the words of the lecture came out of the ABC’s mouth. The media in the UK will always publicize what the ABC says, he knows that, and since he is recognized as having a first class intellect, he should realize the impact of his words. As ABC, he also knows how precarious the situation of millions of his fellow Anglicans is.

    In this day and age of instant, worldwide communication it is naive to think that that any public figure’s speech will not be read in even the most unlikely places. It is also naive to think that they would not be distorted or turned into damaging sound bites. The ABC himself surely knows this.

  57. Bob G+ says:

    Pageantmaster, given what you state above, I take for granted that you are opposed to the Jewish system currently in place and functioning in England. The ABC makes clear in his lecture, as I stressed above, that he is not at all taking about the extreme forms of punishment under particular expressions of Sharia law found in some Muslim dominated States.

    The overarching theme of the Archbishop’s address, as I understand it, centered on how to make room for people of faith and their particular beliefs and ways of ordering their lives within a secular society that seems intent on imposing itself upon the faithful (an example is the recent incident with John Reaney and the Hereford diocese).

    He stressed in his lecture, as you know, that what he is addressing has ramifications for Christians and Jews as well as for Muslims. The use of Sharia is the means of example. As he wrote in his opening paragraph: [blockquote]”The title of this series of lectures signals the existence of what is very widely felt to be a growing challenge in our society – that is, the presence of communities which, while no less ‘law-abiding’ than the rest of the population, relate to something other than the British legal system alone. But, as I hope to suggest, the issues that arise around what level of public or legal recognition, if any, might be allowed to the legal provisions of a religious group, are not peculiar to Islam: we might recall that, while the law of the Church of England is the law of the land, its daily operation is in the hands of authorities to whom considerable independence is granted. And beyond the specific issues that arise in relation to the practicalities of recognition or delegation, there are large questions in the background about what we understand by and expect from the law, questions that are more sharply focused than ever in a largely secular social environment. I shall therefore be concentrating on certain issues around Islamic law to begin with, in order to open up some of these wider matters.”[/blockquote]

  58. robroy says:

    Oh, the hyper-institutionalists folks are worried. I have been dismayed at their obsequiousness and deference they give the arch-procrastinator of Canterbury.

    An important lead Times of London Op-Ed piece written by Minette Marrin, who is no lager lout: [url= ]Archbishop, you’ve committed treason[/url]. In particular, she states:
    [blockquote]The archbishop and his few supporters insist that the media have misrepresented him and not many people have actually read the learned speech that he gave to a learned audience after his inflammatory radio interview. They (including a certain blogger, Dale Rye) are wrong. I haven’t seen any serious misrepresentation in the media, and reading his speech several times doesn’t exonerate him.[/blockquote]
    OK, she didn’t write about Dale Rye in the Times. I inserted that.

  59. BabyBlue says:

    Rowan appears to be “over educated.” The problem with his lecture is that makes an assumption and then makes a case based on his assumption – his assumption is the Christian law and Islamic law are compatible, that they can live side by side in peace. That is an assumption, but it’s an assumption in theory not established by fact.

    The best way I can make the point of the erroneous assumption is to review a portion of his lecture with some unusual modification. There was a time when we thought that another form of government could live side by side with the West. But that too was based on an erroneous academic assumption not based in fact.

    But while such universal claims are not open for renegotiation, they also assume the voluntary consent or submission of the citizen, the free decision to be and to continue a member of the Bolshevik collective is not, in that sense, intrinsically to do with any demand for Communist dominance over non-Communists. Both historically and in the contemporary context, Communist states have acknowledged that membership of the collective is not coterminous with membership in a particular political society: in modern times, the clearest articulation of this was in the foundation of the Soviet state under Lenin; but other examples (East Germany, Yugoslavia ) could be cited of societies where there is a concept of citizenship that is not identical with belonging to the collective. Such societies, while not compromising or weakening the possibility of unqualified belief in the authority and universality of Bolshevikism, or even the privileged status of Communism in a nation, recognise that there can be no guarantee that the state is politically homogeneous and that the relationships in which the individual stands and which define him or her are not exclusively with other Communists. There has therefore to be some concept of common good that is not prescribed solely in terms of revealed Law, however provisional or imperfect such a situation is thought to be. And this implies in turn that the Communist, even in a predominantly Communist state, has something of a dual identity, as citizen and as believer within the community of the faithful.

    It is true that this account would be hotly contested by some committed Soviet Bolsheviks, by followers of Lenin and similar polemicists; but it is fair to say that the great body of serious jurists in the Soviet world would recognise this degree of political plurality as consistent with Communist integrity. In this sense, while (as I have said) we are not talking about two rival systems on the same level, there is some community of understanding between Soviet social thinking and the categories we might turn to in the non-Communist world for the understanding of law in the most general context. There is a recognition that our social identities are not constituted by one exclusive set of relations or mode of belonging – even if one of those sets is regarded as relating to the most fundamental and non-negotiable level of reality, as established by a ‘covenant’ between the divine and the human (as in European and Asian thinking; once again, we are not talking about an exclusively Communist problem). The danger arises not only when there is an assumption on the political side that membership of the community (belonging to the collective or the Church or whatever) is the only significant category, so that participation in other kinds of socio-political arrangement is a kind of betrayal. It also occurs when secular government assumes a monopoly in terms of defining public and political identity. There is a position – not at all unfamiliar in contemporary discussion – which says that to be a citizen is essentially and simply to be under the rule of the uniform law of a sovereign state, in such a way that any other relations, commitments or protocols of behaviour belong exclusively to the realm of the private and of individual choice. As I have maintained in several other contexts, this is a very unsatisfactory account of political reality in modern societies; but it is also a problematic basis for thinking of the legal category of citizenship and the nature of human interdependence.

    You see, Rowan makes an assumption of freedom – that everyone is free, that the essential ingredient of freedom is at the heart of both religions, Christian and Islam. That assumption is misguided, mistaken, and misdirected. It is indeed wishful thinking. It sounds like he needs to get his head out of books and go live in Northern Nigeria or Iran or the Sudan for a while. The fallacy of his argument – no matter how “nuanced” it might be (does he even know who his real audience is now that he’s Archbishop of Canterbury – it seems he does not and if it’s true that he inherited his civil servant staff, it’s no wonder he’s keeping doing dumb public stuff) is that it is based on a wrong assumption. The idea that we could co-exist with the Soviet Union was an equally wrong assumption and believe me, there was quite an uproar when Ronald Reagan was elected president and said as much.

    The Gospel sets people free. That’s why it’s call the Good News. That the leader of Anglican Christians would stand up and lecture us about handing over the freedoms of certain populations of the British people to a law that does not even comprehend something as simple as the Golden Rule sounds as though he ate a bowl of stupid that morning for breakfast.


  60. wildfire says:

    My reading of the speech is that the reference to sharia is indeed merely an example, as stated in #57. When I read it, I said to my wife that he could have given the same speech without any reference at all to sharia; the intellectual heart of the speech is quite independent of that discussion. Hence the question: why?

  61. Larry Morse says:

    The problem is not nuanced expression. The problem is that the ABC does not want to ve clear. He can speak and write with complete clarity and we have seen him do so. The Shariagate is the result of an deliberate attempt to be unclear. He does not wish to disqualify his liberal credentials, but he does not want to lay them clearly before the public either. The result is words like “deconstruct” which are in this context quite meaningless; this is the language of the effete liberal which places his identity in the hands of the jargon of their class. This is not in fact a difficult matter. LM

  62. robroy says:

    I read the op-ed piece that Mark McCall cited in #24. There was an interesting reader comment to this from a British ex-pat reader who lives in Malaysia. It seems that Malaysia [i]had[/i] a constitutional government whose guaranteed freedoms have been whittled away till few are left, occuring gradually with the introduction of “a little Sharia law”. Another good example bolstering Bp Kwashi’s proposition:
    [blockquote][url= ]Because once you ask for the first step of Sharia law you are going to get to the last of it.[/url][/blockquote]

  63. robroy says:

    I forgot to say but is probably known to our educated readers, that the Malaysia’s constitutional government that previously protected individual freedoms was a carry over from former British Rule.

  64. Oldman says:

    #62. “Because once you ask for the first step of Sharia law you are going to get to the last of it.”
    That was the whole point of my post above. I too lived in Malaysia, but haven’t kept up with the politics since the mid-nineties. When I left, one state had declared itself an Islamic state and instituted the Shuriah to the horror of even the Muslim constitutional government. I hope that disease has not spread over the entire country.

  65. Oldman says:

    Sorry. Should be Shariah Law.

  66. John Wilkins says:

    #34 – Um gordian, Uh… he’s not their pastor. Different contexts. he might say that Christians should have their own laws in Muslim Countries. That would be an appropriate analogy.

    He’s not saying that Muslim laws are better than Christan laws.

    People here really hate the archbishop. he’s not the first person to be made a martyr for speaking his mind. It’s too bad that we always expect our leaders to be perfect. who is perfect?

    peter, you are an idealist: for in this day and age, with instant communication – if we were responsible for everything that got said, we couldn’t say anything. Rowan is not responsible for the horrors of Muslims in the rest of the world. Muslims are. Our reading of what he would say to Christians in the Muslim world are hypothetical and uncharitable. If anything, he has done a great job of explaining Christian concepts to the Islamic world. He has maintained his integrity and invited Muslims to think about jesus differently. He’s addressing a specific issue, one that is historically and conceptually difficult. I think he has a right to be wrong without people demanding his head. That’s scapegoating, pure and simple, and it is ethically wrong. We should be bigger than that. If anything, I think he’s being blamed for something that is a deeper problem in British society, and he is brave to be the recipient of such hostility, which he doesn’t deserve.

  67. dwstroudmd+ says:

    “what Dr Williams advances is still the jurisprudence of appeasement, moral cowardice dressed up as worthy cerebration.” Matthew d’Arcona

    But the ABC’s said to be dismayed and stubborn. General Synod, wot?
    Certainly he can follow his predilections in the same manner as Frank Grizwold did his. After all, the ABC has no idea how that would affect social cohesion, only that he is right and that must prevail, in his view.


    IT is possible to repent of stupidity in Lent. Not that the ABC’s seen any of that in regard to the effects on social cohesion of an aberrant view of normality in his career…………………..

  68. Bob G+ says:

    I certainly appreciate Baby Blues’ inclusion of text from the actual paper Rowan presented, even if adulterated to attempt to make a point. Sorry for the length below and any grammatical errors.

    The State in the British Isles is passing and enforcing laws that are now interfering in the Church’s ability to live by its own convictions and rules. A self avowed gay Christian sues the Diocese of Hereford by taking the diocesan finance board to an employment tribunal after his appointment as a youth worker was blocked – employment discrimination and all that based on the British law-of-the-land concerning homosexual employment rights. The diocese is found guilty of breaking secular State law concerning employment non-discrimination and forced to pay a fine. From my understanding, the Church of Rome has gotten out of the adoption business in the U.K. (or parts of it, similarly in the U.S.) because the secular government is requiring it to treat gay couples the same way it treats straight couples.

    If this was happening widely in the U.S., just about every person on this blog would be howling and there would witness much gnashing-of-teeth in the condemnation of the godless liberals and secularism and calls for our obedience to God’s law rather than man’s law. Isn’t it in Massachusetts that the Roman Catholic Church has stopped adoption services because the State is requiring them to place children in foster homes of gay couples, just like straight couples?

    With this kind of stuff going on, what is the Archbishop to do as he attempts to assert his Church’s right to determine for itself how it will conduct its own business and to restrain the secular government from imposing itself upon the Church?

    He was asked to present a lecture at a symposium (or conference or some such thing) entitled “Islam and British Law.” The audience was made up professionals and scholars who were obviously going to be talking about Sharia within Britain. He wrote the paper for an audience of intellectual peers (of which I am certainly not a member) squarely situated within the topic – Islam and British law. Does it not make sense that he would speak of Sharia Law, even if only as an example of his greater point?

    Now, knowing that the secular state is already imposing itself against his own Church, knowing that the Jewish system of Bet Din (Jewish courts) is already in place and working quite well alongside the civil courts, and knowing that the a very similar system is already functioning informally/underground with perhaps dire consequences for, say women, because there is no oversight by the secular State of the goings on of these “Sharia-like courts” within the Muslim communities of England, knowing all this the Archbishop prepared a very good paper dealing with all of this.

    Of course, there is a huge and very difficult soul-searching debate going on within the U.K. right now dealing with “what does it mean to be British,” the failure of multi-culturalism, the seemingly uncontrolled immigration of Middle-Eastern Muslims, many of whom are of the more radical strain and many who are not assimilating into British society, in this context the Archbishop spoke. Within this context, the heightened emotions of the cultural debate took over and suddenly the antagonistic media and their lackeys went crazy as they reported on his lecture and the BBC Radio4 interview with all kinds of accusations that are not accurate/true (which is apparent if people actually read his lecture and the interview and don’t spin it all to fit their agendas or to advance their ideologies).

    Remember, he is addressing in his lecture the need for making space for faith communities within a very secular state intent on imposing itself on the life and convictions of those communities – Christian, Jewish, and Muslim. It makes perfect sense within this context that he used Sharia Law as the EXAMPLE of his larger and very important point. If we, those who read the stuff, can’t understand this or won’t accept it, then it isn’t the Archbishop’s fault, it is our refusal or inability to have calm heads, think and consider, and receive what was presented with the intent of the presenter.

    Now, I agree that he might be better suited for the academy rather than as the leader of the Diocese of Canterbury, the Church of England, and the Anglican Communion, but he was perfectly within his leadership role in English society and as the representative of the Established Church to call that society to deal with this stuff in a way that will take the country forward. It isn’t going backward at this point – if anything the secular State and society is going to become even more antagonistic to the beliefs and actions of faith communities. A place must be made for them – for the Church, his own Church – and understanding that they live in a pluralistic society (and that isn’t going to change), his call is to consider accommodation of all faith communities in ways that would GUARANTEE a high level of civil rights and freedom, particularly for those less advantage (like Muslim women in many contexts).

  69. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Bob G+
    Thank you for your contribution above.
    1. Had this thing not blown up I don’t think any of us would have been aware of the provisions made for the Beth Din. I don’t know much about it but believe it to be a very different animal to a Sharia Court. I haven’t formed a view on this but would generally be very concerned about any court or tribunal which by-passes and whose decisions are enforced by our courts.
    2. In the Hereford matter which has been a PR disaster for the CofE again I cannot comment on the particular individual and his suitability – as a tribunal has ruled in his favour I have to accept that he was unlawfully discriminated against and notwithstanding earlier claims it is apparent that the church has decided not to appeal the tribunal ruling.
    That said we have anti-discrimination legislation and that is quite right. There is also provision for religious exemptions but when in this case the church relied on that and the policies of the church of England were looked at in detail, the tribunal looked at the somewhat disfunctional guidance which has been given by our HOB and were as unconvinced by it as a lot of other people were. They were not prepared to enter into the sort of double-think that the church has engaged in. The church is now going to have to consider, if they wish to reserve particular posts whether applicants should have been ordained first.
    3. There is a considerable secular attack in the UK and our voice is not being heard on a number of important issues, the most serious of which is the position of foetuses and embryos.
    4. Unfortunately spending our time making statements on the need to stop people talking in a disrespectful way about religions and considering the introduction of aspects of Sharia law diverts attention away from important issues. After this debacle it is going to be so much harder for our voice to be heard.
    5. It is unnecessary to pour scorn on those such as BabyBlue who have formed a different conclusion to the one you have come to from your reading of the documents.
    6. You may think that the reaction comes purely from the secular side, but things are more complicated than that. Those who feel they ‘own’ the Church of England are not just the million or so who turn up every Sunday, or even the 3-4 million who come on the high festivals of Christmas or Easter, or even perhaps those who have been married, attended a Christening or funeral or attended a church school, or even those who have attended church at some stage in the past, or those who think that at that some time in the future they might attend, particularly if asked; even the tens of millions who put their religion as CofE when asked. No most curiously it includes those who have little or no connection but see the church as at the centre of national life in national celebrations and commemorations and events such as royal weddings, and this group curiously includes many of other faiths.
    I think it would be very good if we were heard preaching our faith whereas recently we have been seen as a bunch of goody-goodies who bang on about the environment; in fact everything but what people want to hear from us.

  70. seitz says:

    Thank you Bob G+. You situate the issue within the proper context for our assessment.

  71. Larry Morse says:

    Bob G uses the phrase “the intent of the presenter” as an defence for the ABC. Thetrouble is that the intent is very clear, that is, the ABC does not want to be clear. He wants qualifications and divigations so lined up and superimposed that what is merely deliberate obscurity appears to intelligence working on what is called nuances. He is well aware that the stacking of endlessly qualified proposition will seem to the intelligent to be thoughtful examination of complex grey areas. But so ingrained is this university habit that none can seen deliberate obfuscation.

    The fact remains, however, that he has cut his own throat and that his statement was ill-thought out and untimely in every sense. I must say, I am beginning to get the feeling that Williams wants out of his job and is preparing the way for it by keeping his liberal credentials intact so that this will be what he takes with him. Larry

  72. Paula Loughlin says:

    Many others have very well expressed the same reasons I have for being concerned with the ABC’s lecture and interview. It is not so much that he theorized a limited role for Shariah laws in response to the aggresive secularization of the legal system but that he did not realize the impact (rightly or wrongly) his words would have out in the world.

    Personally I think he is rather naive to assume that the non primitivists ( was that the term?) in Islam would not be the one’s determining the limits or non limits of Shariah. If in framing secular law the moderate voices are getting shouted down why should that not be the same for some kind of religious law?

    It is mistaken to think that a Judeo-Christian voice in the law is in and of itself automatically dicriminatory. That its whole structure is built upon a cornerstone of excluding non Christians. Where only Christians can make a legitimate plea for justice.

    The truth is that we do not need enclaves of justice for each and every ethnic, religious or cultural group. What we need is to remember that the values upon which law is founded have their roots in Judeo-Christianity. The whole concept of rights under the law come from the belief in the innate dignity of the person as has been taught and defended by Christianity since its beginning.

    True discrimination in law is not a result of Christians and other believers participating in the public square. It is a result of their being intimidated into silence. It is a result of the tyranny of victimhood. It is a result of believing it is the State that grants and portions out rights. It is a result of that Orwellian concept of some being ” more equal than others”.

    The law is being held hostage. Freeing her will require Christians, Jews, Moslems and other people of faith not being afraid to declare that the law is no one’s doxy. That allowing freedom of conscience is not discrimination but is actually a protection of one of the most cherished and basic rights of all persons.

    Though I know the ABC did not propose the concept of a separate justice system for Muslims or others. I can not see where it would remain a limited role subject to the State’s civil and criminal justice system. I believe that making a place for “religious” courts would only increase the power those hostile to faith have in forming laws and enforcing them. It would be an act of surrender which I in good conscience can not support.

  73. John Wilkins says:

    #71 – Larry, your comment is interesting, but perhaps it is your own projection. You want him out of his job so he can do his liberal thing.

  74. Sherri says:

    I believe that making a place for “religious” courts would only increase the power those hostile to faith have in forming laws and enforcing them. It would be an act of surrender which I in good conscience can not support.

    Isn’t it ironic that this should be happening now in England, with the archbishop of Canterbury as the focal point? Isn’t it a grand echo of Thomas a Becket and Henry II re: ecclesial courts?