Comment at end
9th April 2010
You may have had the good fortune to have missed The Archbishop of Canterbury’s opining the other night (Radio 4) on Tony Blair, George Bush, Iraq, Christianity and other things ‘religious’. I was not so lucky. Without meaning to be TOO rude I suggest Rowan Williams’ knowledge of the first three of these is severely limited. And I’m not too sure about the last two. From his pulpit he is free to regale the faithful of various religions. But on Tony Blair, George Bush and Iraq he is out of his depth. He needs to leave the church and stand for parliament if he thinks he “gets” politics in Britain and the world today. Pronto, wouldn’t be a moment too soon.
But before I get on to his Gracelessness – (here if you can’t wait) – it’s my birthday soon. If anyone’s thinking of getting me a little gift, something similar to this would go down well. Without the banners, if you don’t mind!
Promise you won’t tell my family, though. They’ll think I’ve finally cracked. I’m well-known to be unaware of a deific entity, and I can’t, intellectually, believe in things I am unaware of. (Still, I remain open to an epiphany, as has always been the case. And you never know.)
That aside I am now all in favour of crucifixes bearing the symbol of Jesus on the cross.
But WHY, I hear you ask in utter confusion. Why would I thank you for such an item of jewellery and be proud to wear it if I have no religious convictions? You might well ask.
Read on, all ye believers and non-believers …
Christianity does not just belong to Christians alone. Here in Britain it is also our country’s secular, democratic, cultural and societal heritage
Yes, secular. Over centuries Christianity was the foundation upon which our freedom, our democracy, our liberal laws AND our society were built and then developed. Reminding us to “love thy neighbour” and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you“ Christianity is yours and mine, no matter which religion we follow, or even if no religion touches us at a “spiritual” level. It is time for secularists of all religions and none to re-possess their birthright.
FOLLOWERS OF JESUS
Two thousand years on we are as certain as we can be that Jesus existed, even if we are not so sure about the existence of The Father. And Jesus’s life was good. Following his life’s example clearly helped shape our society. Until recently.
And then what happened? It seems that even democratic liberalism has within itself the seeds or weeds to cause its own demise. Over-liberalised Britain developed and began to swallow us up.
To paraphrase Genesis – “We saw that Britain was good, and we separated the light from the darkness.”
Until, that is, we decided it wasn’t good, and that we shouldn’t separate.
And that brings me to The Archbishop of Canterbury, worldwide leader of the Church of England. Hopefully soon to be known as the former Archbishop of Canterbury. He of Sharia Law is “unavoidable” infamy.
The recent case of the nurse and the crucifix is par for the course today. Put frankly, it would have been a Damascene conversion had our courts decided otherwise. The court’s argument that wearing a crucifix is ‘not a mandatory requirement of her faith’ is an utterly ridiculous argument. Neither is it mandatory for Muslims to wear a burka or any other clothing which they choose while insisting they are “religious requirements”. THEY ARE NOT! We are being lied to. And our courts, politicians and churchmen swallow the lies.
I am rarely in agreement with the Daily Mail on anything, but this is definitely more in touch with MOST people, Christian, Muslim, atheist or whatever than anything the Christian Church’s representative of Upholding the Faith has to say. And, guess what – it was written by a Muslim.
“What has Britain come to when it takes a Muslim like me to defend Christianity?” By Dr Taj Hargey, chairman of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford
‘Christianity is under siege in this country.
Britain’s national religion has never been so marginalised and derided, especially by the public institutions that should be defending it.
The case of nurse Shirley Chaplin, who has been banned by Devon and Exeter NHS Trust from wearing her crucifix while caring for patients, is a graphic illustration of this insidious trend.
Indeed, it is surely an affront to the very concept of religious liberty, which was once regarded as a cornerstone of our democratic, respectful and tolerant nation.
For make no mistake, a new form of virulent secularism is sweeping through society – and its target is Christianity.
I am Muslim. But even as a non-Christian, I can see all too clearly the shameful way in which Britain’s national faith is being eroded. Indeed, banning a crucifix makes a mockery of our treasured right to religious freedom.
As a Muslim, I am filled with despair at the attitude of our politically correct officials towards Christianity.
For me, all true religious faith, if practised with benevolence and humility, can only strengthen our society. To undermine religion is to undermine society itself.
It is no coincidence that as Christianity is repeatedly attacked, so the social fabric of Britain becomes increasingly frayed.
As we lose our strong moral compass, family breakdown and violent crime are at record levels, while our once famous sense of community spirit is evaporating.
In the face of this kind of aggressive secularism, Christians and Muslims should be natural allies.
For contrary to what a few loud-mouthed Muslim extremists like to claim, there is no conflict between Christianity and Islam.
They are part of the great Abrahamic tradition – indeed, there is a key verse in the Koran that reads: ‘The people closest and dearest to Muslims are those who say: “We are Christians.” ‘
It is, therefore, the duty of British Muslims to defend Christianity when it comes under assault.
For it is vital to recognise the central role that Christianity has played in the creation of our shared culture.’
My thoughts on this. I agree with most of it. Who wouldn’t? But –
No, Dr Hargey, it is NOT “VIRULENT” or “MILITANT” SECULARISM at fault.
I disagree with Dr Hargey that the “breakdown in society” (it isn’t breaking down where I live, by the way) is the fault of “aggressive secularism” or “virulent secularism”. I disagreed with Mr Blair on this too when he seemed to used the phrase “militant secularism” to sweepingly describe those who are unaware of a deity; the faithless among us.
And I will let you into a little secret. I almost wrote my last post at this blog with a lambasting of Tony Blair over this sort of remark as well as his siding with the Archbishop and the“fuss about nothing” regarding the Archbishop’s words on the “inevitability” of Sharia law in Britain. After a Blairite wobble, as it were, I was persuaded that my differences with Mr Blair over those issues were insufficient to nullify my support for him on – well, just about everything else. But it was an odd experience to find myself supporting Christianity while feeling that Tony Blair and the Archbishop, true believers both, were dumping on it.
In my opinion the arguments against secularism are fundamentally flawed.
For a start, secularists in Britain are not necessarily atheists.
Secularists, when they use the term about themselves, are referring to their identification with democratic politics rather than with a belief or unbelief in God. And they support, in that term, the contention that religion should be private not on public, insistent display.
So secularism means that you are free to follow or not to follow any religion. But secularism also means that religion should, indeed MUST remain in the private sphere. No religion should be pushed into the faces of others. There is no real conflict with Christianity for Britons living within Britain, nor with Judaism. Why should there be? Why would there be? But secularism does not sit well with Islam, while Muslim women are placing themselves and their religion in a privileged, exclusive position above that of others who do not hide behind a screen, a veil – nikab or burka.
Above all secularists have one thing in common with most faith believers: a high regard for the liberal, democratic and, yes, secular inclusivity of our society. That does not indicate – NOT IN THE SLIGHTEST – that their lack of, or lower consideration of religious “faith” leads them and others (where religion may or may not be their raison d’être) towards encouraging or supporting a loose, immoral society.
It is infuriating for most of us, secularist, atheists, agnostics, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews or whatever to read this kind of court judgement. It is a symptom of over-compensating. Of far too politically correct political and legal systems rather than a symptom of “bureaucratic silliness” as suggested by the Archbishop. It’s the law. And the law is an ass. Over-liberalised and over-inclusive.
Inclusive to the point of exclusivity.
But this judgement is not quite as infuriating as is hearing practising CHRISTIANS defending this kind of decision!
Foremost among those defenders of (NO MORE) UPHOLDING THE FAITH is the Archbishop of Canterbury – the leader of the established Anglican Church throughout the world as well as here in Britain. The Christian (Anglican) Church, in case you’d forgotten.
Rowan Williams said this a few days ago –
(Honestly, I am not making this up. And it’s long past April Fool’s Day.)
Guardian, 4th April: Rowan Williams condemns ‘overheated language’ used to describe Christian suffering
In an Easter sermon, within his words of wisdom was this gem – ‘wooden-headed bureaucratic silliness should not be mistaken for persecution’. He also said, before the lady was found by our courts to have sinned against humanity and was then stripped of wearing her crucifix to work (despite having worn it for 30 years with no Health & Safety concerns) –
“Now it is quite likely that this latest folly, like others, is less a sign of deep anti-Christian feeling as such than the result of wooden-headed bureaucratic silliness combined with a well-meaning and completely misplaced anxiety about giving offence to non-Christians.
“But, while the legal issues are being fought over and the exact scope of religious freedom in the terms of human rights legislation is debated, we might step back a pace or two and think about the larger picture.”
The “larger picture”? Now which one exactly are you looking at, Archbishop? It surely isn’t the picture I’m seeing of Britain today.
The Guardian’s Michael White actually seems to be supporting the Archbishop. He uses words that Rowan Williams had not quite strung together, but had merely hinted at. Like Williams he too is not seeing ALL the wider picture. Like Williams he thinks the rest of us aren’t.
“When a pride in a pure Protestant religion of the heart has been replaced by an envy of Muslim externals, it seems only fair to ask what is really going on underneath this overheated rhetoric of Christian persecution.”
“Muslim externals”? Pardon? What is that? Does that mean that Christians are envious because they want to dress themselves up to the nines in burkas or niqabs, only eyes showing? And they are somehow barred from so doing? What rubbish.
As for –
“What is REALLY going on”, White asks.
This is the old perennial of the loony liberal left. (And to think I used to think White was all right.) But no – Danger! Danger! It’s the fault of Christians in a Christian land for wanting to wear Christian crosses! There must be some other reason for it apart from wanting to wear a Christian cross because they BELIEVE in Christ. It’s a plot – you hear – a PLOT – I tell you!
WHAT UTTER CODSWALLOP, MR WHITE. WHAT DESPICABLE, TREACHEROUS TRIPE. UNBELIEVABLE.
And you will recall on 3rd April there was this –
“Rowan Williams’s comments on the Vatican’s handling of the sex abuse scandal in Ireland is likely to further cloud Pope’s upcoming UK trip.”
He did apologise for this silliness the next day. His initial words may well have had something to do with the Pope’s offer to fast-route conversion to the Roman Catholic Church for those uneasy with the Anglican Church’s liberalism on women priests. Of course such an agenda would never, oh no, not ever be on Dr Williams’ mind, would it?
I am NOT in agreement with the Pope on women priests, nor on contraception, nor on abortion. But it is not difficult to see where politics and religion mix like oil and water between these two Christian churches.
In response to this Ephraim Hardcastle at The Daily Mail asks – ‘How many more Easters’ for the present Archbishop?
“Silent on most of the major issues affecting Christians, how many more Easters will Dr Rowan Williams, 60 in June, serve as Archbishop of Canterbury?”
Dr Rowan Williams, spiritual head of the world-wide Anglican Communion, which claims 77 million members, has suggested that a partial ‘Western’ experience of Christianity meant that the Prime Minister, Tony Blair and President George Bush had little apparent understanding of Iraq and its indigenous religious traditions when they launched the 2003 war.
His comments came in the context of a BBC Radio 4 documentary about the perilous situation of Christians and other minorities in post-war Iraq, hosted by veteran journalist Ed Stourton on Tuesday 6 April 2010.
Stourton asked the Archbishop about the two politicians who took the West to war in Iraq and oversaw an occupation which has led to violent division and confrontation in the midst of subsequent attempts to transition to a fragile democracy.
Tony Blair and George Bush were “the most enthusiastically Christian leaders we have had for many years,” he pointed out.
“The Christianity both of them were shaped by is, on the whole, a very, very Western thing,” Dr Williams said. “I don’t sense that either of them had very much sense of the indigenous Christian life and history that there is in the region.”
Iraq’s Christians blame Western ignorance for a good number of their problems today. Louis Sako, the Chaldean Archbishop of the Northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, was highly critical of Western evangelical missionaries who came “piling into Iraq” in the immediate aftermath of the American invasion.
However, since the war and invasion, many Iraqi Muslims have come to see Christians wrongly as a colonial entity – associating Christianity with the West, and therefore with the occupation, rather than with the East where the faith was born.
The factors behind the eruption of violence against Christians in Iraq are complex, as the programme and its participants, including Dr Williams, recognised. It also includes the incursion of modern, aggressively politicised and religiously narrow forms of Islamism.
But Western Christians, especially political leaders waving a ‘Christian flag’ (President Bush made a disastrous reference to a ‘crusade’, and the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said he was accountable to God in his decision to go to war) have also been part of the problem, it was suggested.
Dr Williams acknowledged that with Christians under pressure and attack in Iraq, living on the edge and fleeing the country in large numbers, there was a chance that the faith might die out in one of the historic lands of its birth.
This would be very sad and “a catastrophe”, said the Anglican leader, urging Christians and others to renew their understanding and commitment to indigenous Christians in Iraq and the Middle East generally.
[Ed: Renewing HIS understanding and commitment to Christians in Britain would be a useful example.]
‘Iraq’s Forgotten Conflict’ was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 6 April at 8pm. It is available online to ‘listen again’ until 12 April 2010: www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/progs/listenagain.shtml
“As I understand it the queen of England is the upholder of the Christian faith, and I believe that Charles wants to be the upholder of all faiths if he gets a chance at being king, does the church have the authority to prevent Charles from upholding all faiths or do they have to abide to his requests?”
And answered here thus:
Now, this is a matter of the British Constitution, which, you may know, does not exist in a single written form, but is formed from all the protocols and governmental decisions made over the years of our existence.
I would be happy for those who know better to correct me, but the following is my understanding.
The Established Church (The “Church of England”) is ultimately the Master of its own destiny. It holds its position as part of the British Nation by an agreement between it and the Nation’s governments, now and in the past. It is free to revoke that agreement, and the Government too, could put an end to it if the Nation wished.
The Monarchy exists as part of the Constitution. But Constitution declares that the Monarch rules by the design and permission of God, not just of their own will. This attitude comes from the Bible – Romans 13 1, and 1 Tim 2 1.
Thus, since the Monarch rules by God’s desire and permission, and the Church of England is established as the part of the British Constitution, then its representative to the Monarch, the Archbishop of Canterbury, can say what God’s will and desire is, and the Monarch has to sit up and listen if this happy balance of power is to be maintained.
So, IF Charles really continues to insist on changing the current Constitutional role of the Monarch to being the upholder of other faiths, (and I think it is by no means certain he will continue to insist this) the Church of England will have to decide if they can put up with that.
IF they then decide they can’t, the Archbishop of Canterbury will convey that to Charles. If neither will back down, a Constitutional Crisis will occur, which will probably be resolved by the government of the day with the following options:
Either Charles backs down on his demand, or he steps down as Monarch, or the Church plays no role in his coronation. This last would make his coronation illegitimate under the present constitution, so the constitution would have to be amended to reduce the church’s role in the appointment of the Monarch.
This would almost certainly lead to the Dis-establishment of the Church of England, which would then lose its favoured position in the Constitution, and take up the same role as all the other denominations in Britain.
So – let me ask a question of all of you for a change (post your answers on here by clicking “reply” in this box) – would that be a good thing or a bad thing?
Hmmm … Long Live The Queen, eh?
THE ARCHBISHOP AT ST PAUL’S CEREMONY. SHAMEFUL.
In October last year I recall being particularly angered by His Gracelessness when he preached his politics in the presence of the Queen, members of the forces as well as Gordon Brown, David Cameron AND Tony Blair. His passing of judgement on the Iraq war decisions from on high was personally insulting to Mr Blair, a man who bears his own cross for the rest of his life, with or without the encouragement of His Grace. It was also an insult to troops who had given their lives for a cause which Williams clearly thought was “unjust”.
Excerpt from my post – “What do the Archbishop, the Nobel Peace Committee & ‘The Independent’ have in common?”
‘Hiding under an ill-fitting robe of circumspection the seemingly non-judgemental remark by this man of God, this Archbishop of Canterbury revealed his true political position. With a captive audience under the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, including the Queen, the former and present prime ministers and troops and families of the fallen, this was a shameful day for the Anglican Church and for the Archbishop in particular.’
Jesus never called on his followers to attack the integrity, honour and responsibility of others. And yet Rowan Williams, the man who said Sharia Law is inevitable in Britain, did just that.
In his sermon the Archbishop clearly opined that the politicians elected to make political decisions were not up to it.
Well now it’s my turn.
You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately … Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go! (Cromwelll, 1653)
You, Archbishop, have lost all credibility.
You are not up to the task of keeping together the Christians of this country and clearly NOT the entire world. Nor have you ever been tasked with invoking those of other religions to take ownership of our nation and its culture and history in order to re-make it in their/your image. Please go. Thank you for your service.
The Magna Carta if you’re interested. It was signed on my birthday as it happens, in 1215, almost 800 years ago. (Plenty of time until June to shop for a little gift.) I was but an infant in arms when the Magna Carta was signed, you realise.
EARLIER RELATED POSTS HERE
- Pope does not agree with the Archbishop on Sharia Law
- No burkinis, please … We’re British
- The “sorry” tale of the Archbishop, the Lawyer and the Blair supporter
- UK barrister urges Al Qaeda to kill Tony Blair
Tags: Archbishop of Canterbury, chairman of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford, christians, crucifix gift, Devon and Exeter NHS Trust, George Bush, Go Archbishop, His Grace, His Gracelessness, Iraq, Irish catholic church, lost all credibility, Muslims, nurse banned, rowan williams, Shirley Chaplin, Taj Hargey, Tony Blair