I saw in your “(possibly) related articles” section “Does our Archbishop need to work on his communication?” and “Archbishop Rowan to take 3 months off”. But, sadly, both are old news. To the first question, you effectively answered “yes” at the time, and that answer is all the more valid today. As for time off, I know he took three months off last summer, but he needs to again. Better still, he should take six months off and let someone else steer the Anglican Communion through the Lambeth Conference.
So what’s a Times Religious Corr?
And what’s a General Synod Membes?
And what happened to reading what’s been written?… ah yes, this is the Times Religion Correspondent.
I think you’ll find that 3 months “off” is very different to 3 months study leave.
“Better still, he should take six months off and let someone else steer the Anglican Communion through the Lambeth Conference.”
I’ll take it that you save your “gentle widom” for those you agree with.
John O says:
I think that the comments made to Ruth Gledhill were as much a reflection on her strident coverage of the affair than a considered defence of the matter of RW’s pronouncements on Thursday. There does seem to be widespread agreement that the Murdoch press were responsible for the nastiest of the ad hominem attacks on RW.
That said, the sand cannot be so easily thrown over RW’s tracks as these figures would like us believe. The point is not the raising of issues for public debate – one could say that George Galloway does the same – but rather whether one does so in a responsible and carefully considered way, particularly as one of the highest dignitaries in the land. It was certainly not clear at the time what he meant by supplementary juristictions and it being dangerous to have one law for everybody. It is quite perverse to claim that his reactionary ideas were exciting and innovative – reflection on them has only hastened calls for the disestablishment of the Church. It is batty to believe his comments have in any way benefitted Christians in the developing world. And what a shame that none of these figures acknowledged the serious damage done to progressive Muslims and Jews by the misleading comments Williams made. It does leave me wondering which of RW and his acolytes is the more naive and self-deceiving.
[...] (Try one of these links for some thoughtful comment on this subject). Or this one if you want to be sworn at. Or a good Sharia Series at over at Our Kingdom – I don’t agree with all of it, but they comprehensively beat us to the draw on this one with a series of 8 Guest Posts so far.) [...]
“That said, the sand cannot be so easily thrown over RW’s tracks as these figures would like us believe.” I think their actually trying to expose his tracks and the sand has been thrown over them by media misrepresentation.
“It is quite perverse to claim that his reactionary ideas were exciting and innovative…”
Reactionary, now you’re hilarious! I dn’t think they were exciting and innovative or particularly meant to be.
“…reflection on them has only hastened calls for the disestablishment of the Church.” About time too, when do we start?
“It is batty to believe his comments have in any way benefitted Christians in the developing world.” The ABofC made no mention of the developing world, hs focus was purely on the UK situation. Why arew you frightened or unable to address what he *did* say?
“And what a shame that none of these figures acknowledged the serious damage done to progressive Muslims and Jews by the misleading comments Williams made.” Perhaps, if interpreted hastily and taken out of context. What a shame so few acknowledge the immense suffering caused by triumpahlistic Christianity over 100′s of years towards most religions and cultures it has come into contact with.
“It does leave me wondering which of RW and his acolytes is the more naive and self-deceiving.” Just an idea but perhaps they have a very good idea what they’re doing, though that may be a bit much for you to cope with.
John O says:
Dave K – if you bothered to look at the video you would have noticed that I was responding to a number of the frankly batty comments that were being made there.
What the wider impact of this saga has to do with the ‘immense suffering caused by triumphalistic Christianity’ is beyond me, unless you are suggesting that assuaging liberal guilt has now become the guiding principle of the Church of England?
“Just an idea but perhaps they have a very good idea what they’re doing”
Indeed. I am not among those who think this fiasco is a resigning matter, but neither am I blind to spin, whether it comes from newspaper journalists or from the ABofC and his acolytes.
I did watch and listen to the video and I did fully realise you were responding to the comments in the video. Why do you think I didn’t realise that?
“What the wider impact of this saga has to do with the ‘immense suffering caused by triumphalistic Christianity’ is beyond me, unless you are suggesting that assuaging liberal guilt has now become the guiding principle of the Church of England?” Well, you wrote: “And what a shame that none of these figures acknowledged the serious damage done to progressive Muslims and Jews by the misleading comments Williams made.” And I replied with: “What a shame so few acknowledge the immense suffering caused by triumpahlistic Christianity over 100’s of years towards most religions and cultures it has come into contact with.” A matter of perspective you see. The current ABofC has done a tremendous amount to develop, improve and nurture inter-faith relationships.
“…unless you are suggesting that assuaging liberal guilt has now become the guiding principle of the Church of England?” Not at all, liberalism and conservativism have both done more than enough to earn their guilt for keeps. On the other hand I don’t think that assuaging conservative fear should be the guiding principle as it so often has been.
“…but neither am I blind to spin, whether it comes from newspaper journalists or from the ABofC and his acolytes.” But blind to the absence of spin it seems.
Dave K, I’m sorry if I sounded a bit rude. Why don’t you tell us where you think the Archbishop’s comments might lead us?
Take, as a suggestion, this: “there is already, of course, an Islamic Shari’a Council, much in demand for rulings on marital questions in the UK; and if we were to see more latitude given in law to rights and scruples rooted in religious identity, we should need a much enhanced and quite sophisticated version of such a body” (my emphasis).
What do you think this means for the Archbishop’s concept of “supplementary jurisdictions”? What do you think he had in mind, and what do you yourself think about this?
Sorry folks – been out for the whole day so half the comments have been held for moderation making the debate a bit confused (possibly).
Peter (first post): Just goes to show what a load of old nonsense I write.
John O says:
I’m pretty sure I’m on a hiding to nothing with you Dave K, but I’d like to give you the courtesy of a response:
All I’m asking is for someone to give their *reasons* for why they think the ABofC was wrong in what *he actually wrote/said
There are many places I could start, but I’m going to begin with RW’s explanation of his motives yesterday: ‘I believe quite strongly that it is not inappropriate for a pastor of the Church of England to address issues around the perceived concerns of other religious communities and to try and bring them into better public focus.’ Given that one of the most disgraceful tactics of some of RW’s supporters has been to smear his critics as xenophobes, let us see whether RW’s belief stands up to scrutiny.
Looking at his pronouncements last Thursday we immediately face a problem. Not only was Williams misguided in his perception of the concerns of other religious communties, he brought them into public focus in an extremely damaging way. On what authority did he take it upon himself to pronounce to the highest legal brains in the land that the Muslim community wanted Sharia family law accommodated into English law? To quote “there is a place for finding what would be a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law as we already do with some kinds of aspects of other religious law.”
Not only does it seem probable that the majority do not want this, there is also widespread agreement among Islamic scholars that in Muslim minority countries believers are obliged to follow the law of that land. But dear RW storms ahead anyway, and we have the appalling spectacle of Hizb-ut-Tahrir and Hamas spokesman Azzam Tamimi coming to his defence, in opposition to more moderate voices in the community. As Yasmin Alibhai-Brown explained, Williams’ misguided pronouncements have not only fuelled internal tensions but also set back the work of progressive Muslims, such as British Muslims for Secular Democracy and MECO, by years.
You may say, of course, that Williams was only arguing for the increased use of religious tribunals, functioning already under the provision under the 1996 Arbitration Act, and, in any case, such tribunals are merely a voluntary means of resolving disputes. I doubt very much, however, that Williams has even set foot in one of these places, and still less has a clue how these tribunals function as a means of entrenching clerical patriarchy. As a means of enlightenment, I suggest you watch a plain, unsensationalist documentary made by a young Muslim journalist last month which documented the proceedings of one of these tribunals for several weeks. You can find the it online in 5 parts, beginning with the first here.
Watch Irum Shazad, a 26-year-old British woman, travel from her battered women’s refuge to a sharia court in East London. She explains that her husband was so abusive she slashed her wrists with a carving knife. The court tells her this was a sin, making her as bad as him. They tell her she must back to her husband if she is to remain a Muslim. Watch Nasirin Iqbal, a 27-year-old Pakistani woman who was shipped to Britain five years ago to marry. Her husband, Imran, has kept her isolated, and she does not speak a word of English. “I came here thinking he’d treat me well,” she says. “But he keeps hurting me…He tells me I’m stuck with him, and under Islam he can treat me however he wants. He says ‘I am a man, I can treat you how I want’.” Imran then takes a second wife in Pakistan, and texts her all day in front of Nasirin declaring his love. The sharia court issues a fatwa saying the marriage stands. She doesn’t seem to know this isn’t a court of law. “I can’t ignore what they say,” she cries. “You have to go with what they say.”
These are the tribunals that Rowan Williams wants to give the stamp of British law. In his lecture, he expresses his concerns that women may be disadvantaged – before serving up a theological gloop, saying that sharia could be reinterpreted in a way compatible with the rights of women. But in that case, why on earth would you need different courts? What would be the point? What is compatible with the law is compatible with it and needs no special accommodation.
Well, I hear you say, we do because Williams tells us the Orthodox Jews already have their religious family law accommodated into English law, so why shouldn’t the Muslims too? His Lambeth Palace statement tells us “the Archbishop referred to a suggestion by a Jewish jurist that there might be room for ‘overlapping jurisdictions’ in which “individuals might choose in certain limited areas whether to seek justice under one system or another. This is what currently happens… within the Jewish arrangements
Again, misleading and damaging. There are no overlapping jurisdictions of law, and nothing in the law of arbitration is specific to the Jews – it is used in myriad ways by private individuals to solve disputes cheaply. Williams’ relationship with the Jewish community has never been rosy, but he has now managed to anger Jewish figures further with the implication that the Beth Din tribunals have already incorporated Jewish religious law into English law, now being used by advocates of shar’ia up and down the land. At a time when all sorts of malicious rumours are spread about Jewish ‘special privileges’, one can understand why senior Jewish figures are upset. This post by Dr Irene Lancaster , an academic in Hebrew and Jewish law, well explains their concerns.
So, as a result of his ill-informed presumptions, we find ourselves in a situation where the negative consequences of the ABC’s statements have fallout well beyond the Anglican communion. Perhaps you begin to appreciate that whether or not Anglicans believe RW is a ‘good man’ is really beside the point.