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Friday, February 15, 2008

Shock horror: religious leader provides religious leadership

It's a good thing when your church has a leader who isn't afraid to lead, even if that means he'll get a stream of ignorant abuse. (I haven't yet read any of Melanie Phillips's columns since Rowan Williams made his speech, but I'm prepared to bet a pound of my flesh that she's written something deeply critical and totally irrelevant on the subject).

(Update: indeed yes, on 8th,9th, 11th (twice), 12th and 14th. And not a single word of sense in any one of them. But what do you expect from someone who can in apparent seriousness describe support for Barack Obama as an example of Diana Derangement Syndrome? And tell us that he "actively opposed the nomination of the great John Bolton (sic) as US Ambassador to the United Nations" as though keeping Mr Pastry away from anywhere he could do further harm to America was a bad thing.)

And you have to love someone who not only doesn't talk down to his audience to make the soundbites better. Or, as Madeleine Bunting put it, "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".

Of course his speech was just common sense: that's why it riled the Islamophobes so much. Goerge Carey (now there was a walking disaster of an Archbishop of Canterbury for you) is quoted as saying "There can be no exceptions to the laws of the land which have been so painfully honed by the struggle for democracy and human rights". I am sure that such a condemnation of the Rabbinical Courts which have been operating in Britain for years without any trouble (even where their rulings have gone against UK law and been overturned on appeal) will lead to his vilification as an out of touch anti-Semite. Oh, no, wait, that was if we lived in a country where anyone bothered about the facts.

Still,
Gordon Brown has had the good sense to support Rowan Williams rather than caving in to popular prejudice as his predecessor would undoubtedly have done.

3 Comments:

At 15 February, 2008 11:41, Anonymous Phil said...

Actually I don't think it was all that clear - I had the distinct impression he was facing both ways on the "multiple systems or multiple sub-systems within a single overarching system" question, possibly because as head of the CoE. I'm not even sure I agree with him. For me the worst part of the reaction against the speech has been that it's made thoughtful and constructive disagreement with it almost impossible.

 
At 15 February, 2008 11:43, Anonymous Phil said...

Um... possibly because as head of the CoE he has authority which is both spiritual and temporal, and so doesn't see himself as sub- anything.

 
At 17 February, 2008 01:53, Blogger Rob said...

I thought he was very clear that no system (or "sub-system") of religious law can remove any rights that a citizen has under the law of the land, or penalise a citizen for insisting on those rights. To me, that makes UK law an "over-arching system". It also shoots holes in the Mad Mels who insist that Williams was talking about "parallel systems" and no at all the same thing as the Beth Din gives Orthodox Jews, since they have to obey British law and can't run counter to it. Well, hey, maybe it's not what some Muslims would like, but that is exactly what Rowan Williams was suggesting for Sharia law. (Strictly speaking the Beth Din can and do hand out judegements contrary to UK law, but those involved have the right to appeal in the British courts, and those appeals are upheld if Beth Din are out of line.

I don't think reasoned disagreement with the speech is impossible, and I'm sure its intended recipients in the legal profession will oblige with some. The brouhaha has, however, drowned sensible debate out entirely so far as mass media are concerned.

 

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