Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

The Respect Party at Prayer?

The Archbishop has stirred things up, not for the first time. This time it’s on Sharia law.

Dr Williams said an approach to law which simply said “there’s one law for everybody and that’s all there is to be said, and anything else that commands your loyalty or allegiance is completely irrelevant in the processes of the courts – I think that’s a bit of a danger”.

I have often heard that the Church of England used to be referred to as the Conservative Party at prayer. I have never understood this, looking at the Church for as long as I have known it. Remarks like those of the Archbishop of Canterbury are the sort one could use to produce a spoof editorial for the Independent – though it seems that Williams’ remarks have been rejected by all main political parties. For goodness sake, even the LibDems have criticised him. Has the Church turned into the Respect party at prayer?

Dr Williams said the UK had to “face up to the fact” some citizens did not relate to the British legal system.

Nor do some criminals, but I don’t think that’s a defence that would stand up for long in court. Perhaps Dr Williams thinks that Ulster paramilitaries should be free to operate their own style of “baseball bat” justice among their communities? As for Muslims, the fact is that many countries with large Muslim populations do not incorporate Sharia into their national legal systems, so quite how it would achieve anything over here other than ghetto-ising further isolating Muslim communities is unclear.

It is a crying shame when leading clergy come up with this sort of stuff. Far from making the Church appear to be relevant and modern, it just alienates many supporters and potential followers. The Church has a role that cannot (and should not) be fulfilled by the state – that of an institution of moral leadership. (Not that I think that those of faith have the monopoly on the moral compasses, but we’ll leave that hot potato for now.) The more that the Church’s reputation is eroded then there will be a sizeable chunk of the nation that will be left in the cold.

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