reactions to the Nazir-Ali article

Updated Monday morning

Press Association Fury over bishop’s comments

Reuters Bishop says extremism creates “no-go areas”

Ekklesia Bishop causes uproar with attack on Islamism and ‘Christian nation’ fears

BBC Profile: Michael Nazir-Ali

The BBC’s Sunday radio programme had an item about this, too. Listen to the item here (4.5 minutes).

Monday morning update

Daily Telegraph Muslims call for ‘no-go’ CoE bishop to resign and Muslim women recruited to stop extremists and Multiculturalism is breeding intolerance

The Times British imams ‘failing young Muslims’ (reference to bishop only at very end of article)

Guardian Bishop under fire for attack on Muslim ‘no-go areas’

Independent Muslim anger at bishop’s ‘ghettoes’ attack and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: No-go areas that are all in the bishop’s mind

Daily Mail Islamic extremism creating ‘no-go’ areas for non-Muslims in Britain, says Bishop of Rochester and Why the Bishop of Rochester is right about ‘no-go’ areas for non-muslims in Britain and No tolerance for no-go areas

Daily Express FURY AT ‘NO-GO’ AREAS RULED BY THE FANATICS

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Pat O'NeillFord ElmsErika BakerChristopher ShellCheryl Va. Clough Recent comment authors
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Doug Chaplin
Guest

I think many people’s reactions have not been strong enough. I offered my own thoughts here:
http://www.metacatholic.co.uk/2008/01/the-bishop-with-his-right-foot-in-his-mouth/

Weiwen
Guest

interesting that 3% of respondents to the last survey think that Mike is the guy who contributed the most to Anglicanism in the last year.

I think Doug’s response to Mike and the Telegraph is very well written. thanks, Doug.

Malcolm+
Guest

Every extremist mullah in Britain has been offering thanks to Allah for the foolish Bishop of Rochester.

Shawn
Guest
Shawn

I thank God every day for Bishops like Nazir-Ali for standing up to the Islamification of Britain and the West.

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

I’m with you Doug. Personally, I think this is more scaremongering about persecuted Christians than about the wellbeing of society. Just as some commented about Christmas e.g. http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/6496 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2007/12/29/do2904.xml If they purport that they are harassed by society, they don’t have to take responsibility for either society or their own influence in it (for better of for worse). I think one thing the recent outrages in countries such as Kenya and Pakistan can tell us, is that religious leaders can spark unholy violence that becomes an out-of-control firestorm. I like Ekklesia’s suggestion “consider a positive, alternative future in which Christians… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

One thing I would really like to know is exactly what some of these people think Muslims should do? Assuming the majority of Muslims are not ‘extremists’ in their terms, then what exactly do they expect from them? I read lots about what they don’t like, but not what they consider to be appropriate behaviour for Muslims. Perhaps someone could explain. And without the usual platitudes about this country being ‘Christian’. It isn’t. To all intents and purposes the majority population is passively secular. Is that what would be preferred from Muslims – mosque once or twice a year and… Read more »

Ren Aguila
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Ren Aguila

Merseymike, I suspect that if I were one of those people you referred to and you honestly asked my opinion, in a situation I am 100% will not be leaked to the media, I think you would find parallels to what Emperor Manuel II Paleologus said (as to what I think of Muslims) and what Martin Luther said of the Jews in one of his books (as to what should we do with them). Pope Benedict quoted the former, got an angry response, and inadvertently proved Emperor Manuel’s point. I think that interreligious dialogue is good, only if Christians come… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Ren: the Christians who are “reducing” Christianity to an ethical system at the moment are the conservative Evangelicals. They have a very impoverished sense of Christian traditions of spirituality, mysticism, liturgical worship, etc.
We do worship the same God as the Muslims, after all, so perhaps we should be careful not to speak dismissively of them.

Pluralist
Guest

“betray our covenant to follow God and Christ alone”

I’ve never signed up to such a Covenant, nor has one ever been offered to sign.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“only if Christians come from a conviction that their religion is the right path to truth” Careful, there, Ren! If you make public statements like this, how will Consevos ever be able to claim you don’t believe in the uniqueness of Christ? “We do worship the same God as the Muslims, after all” I’d argue this point, actually. We believe that God actually became one of us in the way we all get to be human beings, He was born. Muslims state quite clearly that God “neither begets nor is begotten”. The Incarnation is central to our understanding of humanity,… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

To anyone interested in the differences and smiliarities between Christianity and Islam I recommend the link to “Muslims Ask, Christians Answer”, written by the RC Christian Troll of Frankfurt University, Germany, who is very active in interfaith dialogue on behalf of the Vatican.

http://www.answers-to-muslims.com/

Mary Clara
Guest
Mary Clara

Thanks to Doug Chaplin for his thoughtful observations and analysis. Very much worth reading and especially helpful to those of us from outside the UK. A book I came upon recently that supports Doug’s point is Callum G. Brown’s ‘The Death of Christian Britain’. It traces the long arc of historical change in the way the British people have defined themselves religiously, unrelated to Islamic or other immigration.

Christopher Shel
Guest
Christopher Shel

It cannot be honest to say ‘We worship the same God as the Muslims’. An honest answer would point out both the overlaps and the differences. There are plenty of both.

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

I think that religious dialogue aimed at increasing co-operation within a secular democracy – which is what we live in here – can only work if we are not attempting to win converts for our own religion. It is not the role of the State to promote a single religion in a secular democracy.

In this sort of situation, then all religions are an ethical system, and we have to work out ways of living alongside each other, not assume that others will change to believe in our religion, or vice versa.

Ren Aguila
Guest
Ren Aguila

Fr. Mark: Actually, I can tell you that this tendency for reductionism is being upheld by the likes of Hans Kung, who is no conservative evangelical. One of his apologists recently got a bashing for that in a recent forum at my university. I also wish to remind you of the principle that an accusing finger points three back at the accuser. But you have a point there. I know an evangelical who is going up the candle (and into the Anglican fold!) because of that poverty. Ford: 😉 Yes, we do have to emphasize what makes us different from… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

Doug —
A very fine reflection — I think you’ve covered all the bases with considerably more insight that the bishop mustered.

Fr Mark–
Trying to present religion as an “ethical system” is part of the current religion in the presidential campaign in the USA (especially with a Mormon candidate wanting to attract the votes of Evangelicals).
BTW — there are Muslims who would dispute the claim that we pray to the same God (obviously they aren’t the ones engaged in ecumenical dialog).

Dirk Reinken
Guest
Dirk Reinken

For those who say we don’t worship the same God as the Muslims (or for those who would also say we don’t worship the same God as the Jews – an argument I frequently have with various Baptist types in the US) – isn’t it rather that we worship the same God but with different understandings of that God? It seems that to say we worship different Gods is simply to say that God is a manifestation of our own understanding rather than that there could be multiple understandings of the one God, or that one’s understanding of the God… Read more »

Oriscus
Guest
Oriscus

Um. Christians and Muslims *do worship the same God – unless y’all are saying there is more than one.

We understand God differently – profoundly so – which is an entirely different statement.

Is anyone other than me struck by the similarities between the Muslims’ God-idea and that of the ConsEvos? I’ve long been haunted by an offhand remark of a respected friend that “Islam is a Christian heresy, after all.”

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

I think we must worship the same God as the Muslims, if we accept that there is only one God. The Muslims perceive that God differently, have a different experience of that God and hence worship that God in a different way. Note I avoid using pronouns here. Similarly, if we are not to fall into the bigotry of believing that all non-Christians are pagans doomed to hell, we must accept that the gods of Hunduism, Buddhism, native American and native African belief are all aspects of that same God–revealed to these people for specific reasons that we, as mere… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

It doesn’t help to pretend that all Muslims are alike, just like not all Christians aren’t.

The mystics of the two faith probably feel that the core truths are very similar, the fundamentalists see their religions as lightyears apart.

It’s not the faith that has to be challenged and feared, but its expression among people who feel disenfranchised and persecuted and who use it as a political tool.
Just like the Christian fundamentalists’ use of our faith as a political wedge has to be challenged.

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

Yes Ren The War on Terror has been used to turn back many great healings, including the principles of the Magna Carta. Pat wrote “if we are not to fall into the bigotry of believing that all non-Christians are pagans doomed to hell, we must accept that the gods of Hinduism, Buddhism, Native American and native African belief are all aspects of that same God–revealed to these people for specific reasons that we, as mere mortals, cannot fathom.” If you believe that there is a God above all gods, that God created the heaven and the earths, that all children… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“But thinking on this difference, and doing so in a climate of fear and latent, if not openly expressed hatred” So the answer is to get rid of the hatred, not pretend the differences do not exist. All those who talk about there being only one God, so we all must worship the same one reminds me (thank you all, it helps) of the way the Celts were converted. No condemnation of demons there, just the continued assertion that what they thought were different Gods inhabiting different natural structures were actually all the same God, they just didn’t understand clearly.… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

To those who believe Muslims worship a different god—

When they pray to Allah (simply “God” in Arabic; Arabic-speaking *Christians* pray to Allah, too!), “the Compassionate, the Merciful”, Who do you think hears their prayers? Like there’s more than one “Compassionate, Merciful” deity?

[Whereas I believe that the Incarnation (along w/ the cross) is the best explanation of ***HOW*** God/Allah is compassionate and merciful!]

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

God was not only merciful and compassionate in Jesus made incarnate and crucified on the cross.

The OT is full of examples of the prophets acknowledging the compassion of God. If that can be done before Jesus was even born, there is no reason it could not have been done since, nor with peoples of other societies, continents or even souls of other planets and galaxies.

God didn’t become love at the incarnation of Jesus. God was already love, Jesus is a reaffirmation of the compassionate God who desires mercy, gentleness and peace.

Tony
Guest
Tony

I’d like to see some examples cited of these no-go areas, so that it can be seen if the Bishop is scare-mongering, or simply giving factual information. Rather than just slamming him for “stirring up hatred”, wouldn’t it be better to tackle him about examples? I’d like to see a certain Mr Paxman ask: “Bishop, can you give as an example?” again… and again.

Ren Aguila
Guest
Ren Aguila
Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

JCF,
Thanks for that! It helps clarify things.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

I don’t know whether the Bishop is right or not, since the existence of ‘no-go areas’ is in any case to a large degree a matter of perception. What I do know is that his critics’ position is untenable. To know that there were no such areas in Britain they would need to be omnipresent: in all areas at all times. Thus their assertion that they know that there are none is absurd. They may be right that there are none – but, either way, it would be quite impossible to know this, so they should not pretend otherwise.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Oriscus, JCF and Pat You all make the same point that, granted there is only one God, it must be the same one that we are worshipping – albeit we may perceive that God in some ways differently or partially. I see flaws in this position: It makes no allowances for the possibility that either one or both groups may be mistaken about the nature of the God in question. One may be correct that there is one God by mere accident. For example, in a universe where some monotheists worship Zeus and some Ahura-Mazda, and in fact, of… Read more »

BobinSwPA
Guest
BobinSwPA

What would the good bishop have us do with these muslims? If they don’t convert with burn them at the stake? There is no solution to this problem he seems to see. Maybe if the church would stop fighting over who has the right gospel and start working on finding commonalities we would gain more members and build welcoming communities. My view on Nazir-Ali’s statement is that he is trying to scare people into make more governmental restrictions on the faith of some in favor of his own. We see a lot of it here in the states with the… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Christopher: of course Muslims worship the same God. They think they do, as do Jews, and we have to take their word for it.

I worked in a multi-faith chaplaincy with two excellent Muslim colleagues, and they were perfectly happy to pray with me, as I was with them.

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

BobinSwPa History tells us that when one group legislates to restrict the activities of another, eventually the tides are turned and the restrictions imposed upon the first group are worst than the ones they first imposed. Put a lot of people into abusive circumstances, deprive them of access to jobs and dignity, insult them, gloat over your privileges over them, treat them as if they don’t exist or don’t matter. Do it for a long time and to a hard degree, and you have bred a very, very angry group of people. Do it to lots of different groups for… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“in a universe where some monotheists worship Zeus”

I’m afraid at that point this post became a “TL, DR” kinda deal…

Dan
Guest
Dan

But is the Bishop right? Are there areas of Britain where the average non-Muslim Englishman fears to go? There are certainly areas in the US where persons of one race or another might fear to go for fear of being subjected to violence. Ask people of color about being on the streets in certain areas of Brooklyn or Queens. I would not take a stroll down many a street in Harlem or Watts without being fearful for my safety merely because of my race. It is neither racist nor scapegoating to point to their existence if one’s purpose is to… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

So, Dan, are there areas of Britain where a non-white Muslim may fear to go?

This is simply about Nazir-Ali’s wish to become the head of the new Communion in the UK, and another example of his passionate loathing for Islam, without recognising its similarities to his own brand of religious conservatism.

I think there is racism in Britain. I don’t think that this is primarily characterised by ‘no-go ‘ areas dominated by Muslims.
I can certainly see why Muslims (or anyone with an ounce of judgment) would be very wary of the bishop of Rochester!

Prior Aelred
Guest

I very much like Erica Baker’s comment above. This is from John H. Watson’s “Among the Copts” (page 128) A western scholar once asked Pope Shenouda if Allah — the God and Father of Jesus Christ, in the Arabic Bible — and Allah — the God of Muhammad, in the Qur’an — were the same Allah? Before Shenouda could reply, a bishop cried out with an anguished voice: “No. No. The God of Islam is Satan!” The westerner was shocked. Shenouda was angry. He turned on the bishop: “You must not say this, not to an Englishman or to an… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Christopher; I think you miss our point–or mine, at any rate. There IS only one God. As a Christian, I firmly believe that. I also firmly believe, as a humanist, that other religions are not to be disparaged as “not true”. Therefore, I look at these other believers and come to the conclusion that–since there is but one God–the deities the others worship are manifestations of the one God. Why have they been given a different perspective on this God than I (or you)? I don’t know. I don’t pretend to understand the mind of God. Dan: There’s a big… Read more »

Hugh of Lincoln
Guest
Hugh of Lincoln

This row takes the attention away from gaffe-prone GAFCON. Whereas opposing gay rights fails to inspire these days, the bishop’s article has elicited the usual Islamophobic comments on the blogs. The silence of the archbishops is deafening. What’s the C of E’s official line? Where are the no-go areas?

Pluralist
Guest

Being a Muslim does not make one a danger to other people; being Muslim therefore does not of itself produce any no go areas. This is the nonsense.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“Yes, there were areas we were told were unwise to travel, especially alone.”

Notting Hill was one such when I was young.

I had recieved an invitiation, and one day as I was asking around at my work place as to its whereabouts, I was specificly warned by several persons who lived there themselves, that it was Oh soo dangerous!

Nothing happened.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Pat- But money-worshippers worship only one god. So do Satan worshippers. And so on. By your argument, money (Mammon) and Satan are just dimensions of the one God. If I decide to worship drizzle, then that too is just one dimension, or to worship the final ‘e’ in your last post, these too are dimensions of the one God, no more nor less important than others’ objects of worship. Why? Because they share the all-important quality of being one in number, and not two or more. All one can say is that this one God must be remarkably complex… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Why have they been given a different perspective on this God than I (or you)? I don’t know. I don’t pretend to understand the mind of God.” Pat, I find this a very attractive position, but there’s one thing about it that bothers me. It seems to be saying that we all worship the same God, it’s just that others aren’t enlightened enough to perceive it, which is no less insulting than saying that others worship demons or spirits masquerading as God, or are led astray in some way. It’s like Christian churches that would include, say, Gandhi among the… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

Satan is just one dimension of God – he is a fallen one. There are Christians who worship what some fallen ones desired – the end of this world and all its occupants, dodging having to provide for “the other” or contributing to making Creation running smoothly, a “nice” comfortable heaven for themselves whilst the masses suffer in “hell”. Some Christians need to ask whether they are worshiping the prince of this world that Jesus warned them about, or the Jesus who was sent to heal this world and bring about peace, the one who “died” to save us all… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Christopher: I know of no “Church of the Holy Dollar” so talk of “worshiping money” on the same level as say, worshiping Shiva, is nonsense. As for Satan worship, the FBI has investigated virtually every “Satanic cult” charge in the US over the past several decades. Know what? They’ve never found one to exist, beyond a few kids challenging the status quo in their respective communities. Therefore, your objections to my philosophy are basically straw men. OTOH, I understand Ford’s objections and I accept them. Except to say that I have never viewed anyone’s religion as being inferior to my… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Pat- But that doesn’t address the central issue. On such a big and mysterious question as the God question, the chances of being in error are surely colossal. After all we humans are in error (and allowed by you to be able to err) on many much simpler matters. Yet your proposal is (seemingly?) that no-one is wrong in any aspect of their perception of God. They merely see different bits of the overall reality. Can’t you see what an unthinking capitulation to postmodernism this might seem? You take it as read that no-one is ever wrong (which you… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Christopher,

Isn’t it rather that because of the enormity of God we ALL see some of it wrong, and because of our limitations we cannot know which bits we see wrong. Humility therefore requires not to claim that we are right and all the others are wrong, but to allow the possibility that we may be wrong in parts where they are right.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“You take it as read that no-one is ever wrong (which you must know is untrue) – least of all on an especially mysterious question like the God question (which you must know is even more untrue).” You seem to be taking it as read that everybody else is wrong. I agree that we can’t all be right. I think our basic attitude here is the same. After that though we differ. I suspect you are starting from a position that we can scientifically prove the existence of God in some fashion, so the ultimate reality of God is something… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Christopher:

Erika and Ford basically have it right as to my position, especially Erika.