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Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

More on the Archbishop

Feb 10, 2008

The uproar over the remarks on sharia law by Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams has been quite overwhelming. He seems to be receiving almost universal condemnation for his reckless remarks (except for some Muslims who fully support them). This has not been the first time the Arch has courted controversy. But it certainly seems to have capped it all off.

As one commentator from the UK put it on this site, the Archbishop seems to thrive on controversy and attention: “The truth is that he is a man of enormous vanity who likes the limelight. So long as he can produce obfuscatory and controversial statements and generate idle speculation he knows that he will be the centre of attention.”

Indeed, he has been so problematic that as the spiritual head of the world’s Anglicans, he is in quite a bit of strife. For example, the Lambeth Conference, due to be held in July, is under real threat of being suspended altogether. The leaders of half the world’s church members have confirmed they will not attend the Conference. One report puts it this way:

“The conference, which is only held every ten years, will now be significantly diminished in influence and standing. But the wider implication is clear – in four of the largest Anglican communities in the world, the Anglican Church is effectively setting itself up as an alternate to the rest of church, nominally led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. Australia’s largest diocese – Sydney – won’t be at Lambeth, nor will Nigeria, easily the largest and fastest growing Anglican church in the world. Together with Uganda, which won’t be there either, Nigeria makes up half the total Anglican communion. Rwanda, which has a significant Anglican presence, won’t be attending either. Now that half the church is boycotting Lambeth, the door is wide open for conservative church dioceses in other countries to boycott it as well. And a couple of other Australian dioceses may be among them. Sydney’s Archbishop Peter Jensen now effectively find himself the ‘co-leader’ of half the world’s Anglicans, along with the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola.”

Williams’ comments on sharia law certainly confirm why Anglicans should be unhappy with his leadership. As I wrote in my earlier piece, this idea would be disastrous if implemented. And Muslims in Australian are already calling for the introduction of sharia law here, heartened by the silly remarks of Williams.

Since making his controversial remarks, much ink has since been spilt on this topic. Most commentators have heaped scorn on the idea of having sharia law partially implemented in the UK. One excellent piece of commentary came from Melanie Phillips. She minces no words here: “His argument was quite extraordinarily muddled, absurd and wrong. The European Court of Human Rights has said that sharia law is not compatible with democracy.” She continues,

“The implications of this are simply staggering. One law for all is the very basis of legal and social justice and is the glue that binds a society together. Law is the expression of a society’s cultural identity. If there is no one law, there is no one national identity and therefore no society but instead a set of warring fiefdoms with their own separate jurisdictions. To enable people to chop and choose between two jurisdictions would destroy the unitary nature of British society and fragment the country. But does Dr Williams even understand what he himself has said? For after his lecture, he insisted that he was not talking about parallel systems but how the law accommodates Muslim practice. Yet he had specifically said people should be able to choose which system they wanted. Hello? Maybe Dr Williams himself gets lost in the impenetrable thicket of his own verbiage.”

As I mentioned in my earlier piece, women will be the big losers in all of this. Yet Williams seems blissfully unaware of this, or unconcerned. Says Phillips:

“His proposal would also mean that Britain would simply abandon its female Muslim citizens whose parlous position in respect of forced marriages, honour killings and all the other horrors that follow from their second-class religious status would be institutionalised by giving sharia law official recognition. Dr Williams says such women should still retain the right of appeal to the English courts if their human rights were breached under sharia. What absurdity is this? It is the cultural assumptions which flow from sharia which lead to the oppression of Muslim women. How is the right of appeal to human rights law going to help women who are beaten and killed by men who do it in the name of religion? In order to protect our female Muslim citizens, we need to remove from them the yoke of sharia law, not institutionalise it with the seal of official approval.”

“Dr Williams appears to believe that English law would somehow absorb sharia. In fact, it would be absorbed by it for the simple reason that sharia brooks no alternative authority. But the yet more fundamental question is why he thinks we need to find any accommodation with sharia at all. He said there remains a great deal of uncertainty about what degree of accommodation the law of the land can and should give to minority communities with their own strongly entrenched legal and moral codes. Well no, actually there isn’t any uncertainty at all. The rules of our society have always been entirely clear: one law for all. The only challenge to that has come from those Muslims who want to destroy that foundational precept and along with it British culture and western society.”

“And now the head of the Anglican church has joined them in wanting to tear up the rules governing the position of minorities which have been perfectly clear ever since the Enlightenment. These rules hold that religious minorities can practise their faith and religious precepts but under the over-arching umbrella of the law of the land. That means where there is a conflict between minority precepts and the law, the minority gives way. While minorities should be given the freedom to practise their religion, they must not seek to impose their own laws and customs on the majority. That is how overlapping identities can be accommodated; it is how a majority culture can acknowledge the value of other cultures without destroying itself and a nation’s identity; it is the very essence of a tolerant, decent, liberal pluralist society.”

“Every minority until now has lived perfectly happily under that formulation. What we are now facing is a push by certain British Muslims, backed up by Islamist violence and intimidation, to change the rules of the national cultural game. There is only one proper response to that: to say that not one inch of leeway will be given to sharia law, that British society will not dilute the legal principles which govern all its citizens, and that Muslims must observe the same rules that govern every other minority in this country.”

Phillips goes on to show how the analogy Williams used concerning the Jews is quite wrong-headed. She then concludes with these words:

“People often say the church is now irrelevant. On the contrary – without a strong religious core providing the moral, ethical and cultural ballast, the society it has been instrumental in forming becomes intensely vulnerable to collapse and colonisation. The defence mounted by politicians becomes an empty shell – particularly when we can see they are already running scared and selling the cultural pass with measures such as sharia finance or welfare benefits for polygamous wives. Is this really the way the history of a nation, which has for the last thousand years fought off invasion and defended its independence and the liberty it created for the world, finally ends – with the head of its established church on his knees before terror?”

This is called appeasement. It is called surrender. It is also called insanity. The head of the Anglican church is offering radical Muslims most of their demands on a silver platter. Williams has effectively betrayed his Christian faith and denied his democratic roots. Surely it is time for this confused man to go. He has caused far too much mischief already.

www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/492106/the-archbishops-speech.thtml

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6 Responses to More on the Archbishop

  • Bill, while I agree of course with your remarks and those of Melanie Phillips which you quote, the real problem is not Rowan Williams and his more outlandish statements, but the undermining of Christianity’s unique and exclusive claims which goes on every day in England (and here too). We see how Patrick Sookhdeo, sounding a clear voice on the Islamic threat, is openly attacked by Anglican colleagues; we see imams regularly invited into Anglican pulpits, we see “inter-faith” gatherings and exercises which in reality only promote the Islamic agenda; we hear increasing calls for inter-faith co-operation, and so on.

    We need an Elijah who will challenge us all directly: “How long will you limp between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow Him; but if Allah, then follow him – and go to Hell.”

    Murray Adamthwaite

  • Yes, Murray. Will the real followers of Christ please stand up? Those that not only say they believe in Christ but are willing to obey his instructions and commandments and lay their lives down for Him – those that will kick out the heretics that currently grace the pulpits of so many churches in so many different denominations.
    Garth Penglase

  • See My sentence was reduced to beheading from the UK Telegraph, about Sandy Mitchell. He actually experienced Sharia Law first hand, and was tortured into a confession:

    A sharia court sentenced him to having his head partially severed, followed by public crucifixion.

    The sentence was later reduced to beheading, before the Saudi authorities finally conceded that al-Qa’eda terrorists had planted the bomb and let Mr Mitchell return home to Halifax, West Yorks.

    Yesterday he accused the Archbishop of Canterbury of “betraying” Christians with his comments on Islamic law.

    “No one is prepared to expose sharia law for what it is for fear of being branded racist,” said Mr Mitchell, “But we are talking about basic human rights.

    “Under Sharia law a man’s word is worth the word of four women, so a woman must have at least three other women or a man backing her up to stand any chance of justice. In rape cases, for example, unless a man openly rapes a woman in public there is no hope of securing a conviction because his word will always prevail.

    “No matter what Dr Williams may say, I’m afraid he doesn’t appear to have grasped even the basics of sharia law before he made his comments.”

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • With regard to Rowan William’s absent-mindedly or innocently lancing a carbuncle, or more correctly unwittingly dislodging the plug of a volcanoe that has been waiting to blow for decades, I firmly believe that just as with the so-called laws of physics that we involunatarily obey, so too, we have no choice but to respect the universal, objective, moral laws operating in the universe, but which – and to our cost – we are free to disobey. Admittedly the effects of breaking them might take considerably longer to experience than those of physics, but there is no escaping their authority and outworking in our lives.
    By far the largest ideological group on planet Earth are the Christians who make up over 32% of the Earth’s population. Check it out. The basis for their worldview and ideology is the person of Jesus Christ and His laws, the Ten Commandments, that western Europen civilisation has consistently rejected – the final consequences for doing so, I believe, I shall witness in my life-time.
    In the vanguard of this rebellion, flapping in cape and gown, down the Gadarene slope, are religious leaders like Rowan Williams who would claim that we are free to come to a smorgasbord of religion and pick and choose which bits take our fancy. When have you heard him speak out on adultery, abortion (mass murder), blasphemy, the loss of Sunday or any of the other Ten Commandments that have become rejected by the West? He is indeed a comic vicar, a court jester who, by coming out with contentious and controversial statements, revels in attention-seeking from the sidelines. Finally he has stumbled on the rock which if he is not careful will break him.

    As for Islam it has its roots in moon worship, hence the crescent symbol as opposed to the Christian cross. It has disguised itself, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as the rightful heir of the Judeo-Christian faith by absorbing bits and pieces and bolt-ons from that more ancient faith. Hence Muslims deceitfully and presumptiously climb into bed with us and claim that Allah is the same as Yawheh or Jehovah, when in fact they are zillions of light years apart – as far as the east is from the west.

    David Skinner, Dorset UK

  • Melanie Phillips now has several follow-up items on her blog about Williams:

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/495671/dhimmi-or-just-dim.thtml

    The lecture and radio interview were bad enough, heaven knows. But this statement on his website raises yet further concerns. How can the Archbishop of Canterbury put out such a seriously misleading and, in parts, demonstrably false statement? It moves this affair on from questions about judgment — which are serious enough — to questions about integrity. Either Dr Williams really does not understand what he himself said — in which case he is a fool; or he understands exactly what he said and is trying to pretend that he didn’t say it — in which case he is a knave.

    Either way, he has done great harm to his church and is a danger to his country (although through this furore he has also, unwittingly and ironically, set back the agenda of Islamisation by stealth which had been making such headway; hence the very carefully modulated support for him by such Islamist strategists as the Muslim Council of Britain). He should stand down and the courageous and sharp Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali — a man whose life is now in danger for having spoken the truth about Islam in a Britain whose religious and cultural identity he actually defends, but about whom Dr Williams has said not one word in support — should take his place.

    Now that really would be a statement in defence of Britain and western civilisation.

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/498796/the-betrayal-of-the-anglican-communion.thtml

    Dr Williams is the head of a church whose members are being persecuted, harassed, attacked, forcibly converted and murdered in large numbers at the hands of sharia law across Africa and Asia. He has, to my knowledge, said nothing at all about this. Instead, he is now proposing that sharia should be made a ‘supplementary jurisdiction’ in Britain, thus signalling his abandonment and outright betrayal of his flock who are suffering so badly at the hands of Islam worldwide.

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/499156/a-holy-fool.thtml

    The Williams defence is now in full spinning mode. Useful idiots are being wheeled out to say that he has been appallingly treated, misquoted, misunderstood, vilified, victimised; it’s all got up by the tabloid media; it’s all got up by ‘traditionalists’ who’ve been gunning for him from the start. But like the British people in general who have exploded in unprecedented fury over his remarks which they understood only too well, there are too many serious-minded and highly well-informed individuals both inside and outside the church who realise that with Dr Williams’s remarks a line of the utmost importance has been crossed for this issue to be laid to rest by his slippery equivocations and disingenuous self-justifications.

    Let us remind ourselves of the enormity of what this man said — that he thought one law for all was ‘a danger’, that sharia law was not an ‘alien’ creed and that its adoption by the British state was inevitable. With those unequivocal remarks people understood that this man would deliver Britain, the ancient cradle of individual liberty, into tyranny. The Archbishop may have manipulated the Synod today by playing both the penitent and the martyr. But the people of Britain, who are most certainly not the fools he takes them for, have finally decided they’ve had enough and are now ( thanks, ironically, to him) prepared to say so; and they will no longer tolerate the Church of England until and unless it rids itself of this holy fool and chooses a leader who will actually defend this country rather than capitulate to its enemies.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • Thanks very much Ewan
    Some terrific and powerful quotes there by Melanie.
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultreWatch

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