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Friday, February 08, 2008

Sharia? No thanks!

Under existing UK law Muslims are already allowed discretion in certain limited circumstances to use their own services and procedures; notably in matters of banking, stamp duty and divorce mediation. This is right and proper for primary legislation is not thereby being subverted. There is one law in Britain that covers all its people.

Sometimes laws are passed that pull against the consciences, religiously informed or otherwise, of some of its citizens. These tensions may be resolved by the democratic process and a sensitive application of derogation for certain groups ... Catholic and Orthodox medics opposed to abortion for example cannot be constrained to perform them.

What we certainly do not need though, in any shape or form, is the application of sharia law for a section of the population. This is divisive, inequitable and erosive of the common values that a singular law must uphold. Far from promoting social cohesion as the Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams believes, this would fragment and antagonise disparate social and religious groups.

Moreover, that a Christian Archbishop should call for the introduction of any element of shariah beggars belief. He knows what happens long term in societies that cow tow to Islamic pressure for shariah. We see this going on in Nigeria right now, especially in the north of the country. Dhimmitude (social repression) of a Christian minority may not be on the cards just yet, but this move would be the thin end of a very long wedge.

Mercifully, judging the reactions of all parties in Parliament, this naive and dangerous suggestion will sink without trace. More worrying though is that the most senior cleric of the Anglican Communion should entertaining such crazy ideas. Sorry Abp. Rowan, I had thought better of you than this.


James M said...

I don't understand how exactly introducing sharia law will help Christianity. Seems like a loss of vision on his part.

Father Gregory said...

Indeed James and it is a loss of vision on his part ... or I might say, a loss of confidence. We should not assume though that helping Christianity conditions all that he does. Like so many others he is a well meaning western liberal ... with all that entails.

Father Gregory said...

My cartoon caption should read "Unavoidable" not "Inevitable." This was imprecisely quoted today. Same difference though!

James M said...

Yeah, so it does really appear that this is more political than anything. Not so appalling if it were only coming from a politician.

Father Gregory said...

On the contrary James. It would be MORE dangerous coming from a politician because it would mean that it had mileage in the establishment, albeit on the fringes of Parliament initially.

Universally the experience of shariah (introduced gradually at first) has been the repression and persecution of minorities, even People of the Book, (Jews and Christians), the slavery of dhimittude and the tribute tax, penal brutalisation, the submission of women and the execution of gay people.

It is a grievous mistake to think that sharia can be adapted and limited in any society. It is a nesting cuckoo that gets bigger and bigger and bigger. This is how the rot set in in the Christian East. More fools us if we let it happen here!

Dwynwen said...

I think James meant that such a ridiculous idea could be expected from a politician but coming from a church leader it is certainly appalling.
Fear not little flock. I think the idea is already dead in the water otherwise Heaven help us.

Father Gregory said...

Maybe but not too long ago the prospect of any Christian minister making such a comment would have been totally inconceivable. A line has been crossed irrespective of the outcome of this particular incident.

Anonymous said...


How much of his thinking comes from the post-modern notion of 'one law for you, one for me' in a 'one truth for you, one for me' sort of way?

He seemed to suggest that society didn't need ONE overarching code of law for social cohesion and should attempt to synthesise a plurality of systems. Of course this well meaning notion would introduce a competitor for societies legal system into the market which would seek to subsume the previous system under itself.

The early Church introduced a different vision for society into the Romano-Greco world, something for which they paid a heavy price until it finally won the day. Since then European society (along with it's colonies) have quietly 'assumed' this Christian vision for social cohesion. With the breakdown of Christendom the power of this vision has lessened to the point that an Archbishop of a national church actually thinks different visions should be introduced side by side.

Can't believe he would actually think this.

James the Thickheaded said...

The problem of the contemporary descent of Anglicanism into a philosophy of inclusive multiculturalism is that in embracing the ethic of the age, it fails to see the inherent denial of the human person in this group classification approach. It should be obvious even in the simplistic secular-only sense of a person's right to equality before the law - the same law for all. While this is indeed a limited notion of the human person... it is at least affords men and women the protection wherein they can then seek a deeper meaning. Even where this is intended as a utilitarian recognition of effective "street power" it in effect acknowledges inequality and seems tantamount to saying this is okay. It was not in the segregated parts of the USA, is not in the good vs. bad parts of our cities today, and simply should not be tolerated. It constitutes an elitism of the worst (and yet most common) kind.

I agree with you... I would have thought far, far better of the good ArchBishop. I would think that had he been more sensitive to the plight of women ;) he would have seen through this better. I don't understand the motivation.

In the past, your Financial Times has cited many cases of de-facto Islamic polygamy effected through multiple "in-name-only" divorces followed by sequential marriages with continued co-habitation. The divorce simply facilitates the other marriages... and does not end the prior marriages which continue under Sharia law in reality. I have a niece threatened with this by her Islamic husband here in the USA... so this is far more common than folks let on. Without breaching the discussion of the problems of serial "monogamous" marriages that are too common and the relative compromise of this Sharia effected polygamy vs. our serial polygamy, I'm having problems with this simply in terms of understanding the theory under which either a majority or minority gains the right to void the law of the land and enforce it's own code of conduct - even at the sacrifice of life and dignity.

Not to burn too much bandwidth here (sorry 'bout that!) but it sure seems like a descent into a dark and unworthy past.

Steve Hayes said...

Of course if Sharia law was introduced for Muslims in Britain, then Canon Law could be introduced for Christians, leaving the Civil Law for atheist, agnostics and the religiously indifferent.

Father Gregory said...

Over my dead body! One nation under God and not a theocratic one. (I know that was tongue in cheek!) :-)

Zac said...

Once again the Anglican Communion sacrifices Truth on the altar of "relevance."

The upshot of all this, I think, is that the more that this happens within Anglicanism, the more that the real, serious, pious, C.S. Lewis-sort of Anglicans will be drawn toward Orthodoxy-- I hope and pray, anyway. Perhaps the 21st Century will see the Orthodox Church becoming the main home for disaffected (and perhaps disinfected) Anglican Christians-- perhaps even an "Anglican Orthodox" autonomous/autocephalous Church.

Metropolitan +Kallistos will be speaking in Detroit on Tuesday, which is about three hours away. We plan on going to hear him.

Jess said...

If we allow sharia to take root in Britain, we will end up with a Balkanisation of this country and who, in their right mind, would want that. Rowan Williams is either supremely naive or cunningly contriving the downfall of his own faith and country.

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