Saturday, 5 January 2008

"no-go" areas across Britain?

Updated Sunday morning

The Sunday Telegraph has an article by the Bishop of Rochester which is headlined Extremism flourished as UK lost Christianity.

There is also a news report by Jonathan Wynne-Jones headlined Bishop warns of no-go zones for non-Muslims.

Here’s another bit of what Bishop Nazir-Ali says in his article:

It is now less possible for Christianity to be the public faith in Britain.

The existence of chapels and chaplaincies in places such as hospitals, prisons and institutions of further and higher education is in jeopardy either because of financial cuts or because the authorities want “multifaith” provision, without regard to the distinctively Christian character of the nation’s laws, values, customs and culture.

Not only locally, but at the national level also the establishment of the Church of England is being eroded. My fear is, in the end, nothing will be left but the smile of the Cheshire Cat.

In the past, I have supported the establishment of the Church, but now I have to ask if it is only the forms that are left and the substance rapidly disappearing. If such is the case, is it worth persevering with the trappings of establishment?

Update
I published this article before the Sunday Telegraph leader had appeared: Britain has changed but its values must endure. This includes the sentence:

Bishop Nazir-Ali’s concern that the rapidity and scale of immigration, together with the policy of multiculturalism, threaten Britain’s Christian heritage are echoed by the Church of England General Synod, a majority of which worries that large-scale immigration is “diluting the Christian nature of Britain”.

Is that a majority of the synod, or is that a majority of those who responded? Anyway, according to the Telegraph’s own news report (my emphasis added):

In the Synod survey, to be published this week, bishops, senior clergy and influential churchgoers said that an increasingly multi-faith society threatens the country’s Christian heritage and blamed the divisions on the Government’s failure to integrate immigrants into their communities.

It found that more than one in three believe that a mass influx of people of other faiths is diluting the Christian nature of Britain and only a quarter feel that they have been integrated into society.

The overwhelming majority - 80 per cent - said that the Government has not upheld the place of religion in public life and up to 63 per cent fear that the Church will be disestablished within a generation, breaking a bond that has existed between the Church and State since the Reformation.

Meanwhile, the bishop’s remarks are getting huge attention via the news agencies:

Press Association ‘UK Islamists creating no-go areas’
Associated Press UK Bishop Denounces Islamic Extremism
Agence France-Press ‘No-go’ zones in some Muslim areas: British bishop

and the BBC Bishop warns of ‘Islamic areas’

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 5 January 2008 at 11:40pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

Nazir-Ali is not far wrong in this case: segregation is a growing problem in cities across the UK, even if the reasons for this are more complicated than he suggests. No doubt the usual suspects will spit fire at +Rochester for speaking the truth, but they should remember that this is a man who has experienced segregation first hand in Pakistan, when his attempts to help persecuted Christians earned him death threats from General Zia and the Muslim hierarchy and resulted in his exile. This is a man who is aware where the politics of Islamic supremacism can lead.

There was an excellent discussion recently on this issue with Dr Taj Hargey, who runs the excellent Muslim Education Centre in Oxford, an imam who grew up in South Africa, and was shocked at the segregationalist mindset of many mosques here, which he described as similar to that under aparteid. Too many Islamic organisations in Britain are expressly political in nature, unlike those representing Hindu, Sikh, or Buddhist faiths. In addition another problem stems from too few Imams being educated in English, and running mosques which actively discourage interfaith services and activity. There is a disappointment felt by liberal Muslims, such as those in the British Muslims for Secular Democracy movement, that these developments are not being challenged. Whatever one thinks of Nazir Ali's politics, he has raised an issue that is too often ignored by Christians of a more liberal persuasion.

Posted by: John Omani on Sunday, 6 January 2008 at 4:31am GMT

"But none of this will be of any avail if Britain does not recover that vision of its destiny which made it great. That has to do with the Bible's teaching that we have equal dignity and freedom because we are all made in God's image."

Beautiful.

Now, let's go for some empathy. We all have dignity and freedom - and that includes females and GLBTs.

I read a Jewish article a few years ago that said that one of the travesties of Auswitzch is that Jews were being targetted for abuse, not on the basis of their conduct or thinking, but simply because they were Jews.

Take a step back, guys. Women have been dealing with this reality for centuries. We have been dealing with no go zones for centuries - in Islamic, Jewish and Christian societies (as well as others).

The bible is simply charming when it comes to women. I think the most derogatory passage I've ever seen is in Jeremiah 2:23-24 "See how you behaved in the valley; consider what you have done. You are a swift she-camel running here and there, a wild donkey accustomed to the desert,sniffing the wind in her craving— in her heat who can restrain her? Any males that pursue her need not tire themselves; at mating time they will find her."

Don't bother being a single woman and if you are don't be sexual active. After all we all know that women are only made worthy by their mates, and any woman without a mate is not entitled to companionship nor respect.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Sunday, 6 January 2008 at 7:15am GMT

Seems this bishop is not only an extremist himself, but indeed a very dangerous individual into fear-mongering and division.

Ghastly!

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 6 January 2008 at 7:17am GMT

Bishop Nazir-ali may be wrong on Gafcon, but he is bang on with Islam. A stopped clock can be right twice a day.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Sunday, 6 January 2008 at 8:49am GMT

Nazir-Ali appears to me to be something of a reflection of the Islamists he dislikes so much. he fails to spot the clear similarities between different religionists of a conservative hue. I see them as all much the same in their wish to receive preference and in their belief that they and they alone possess the 'truth'

He is typical of the convert.

He also fails to recognise that it is the choice of the British people not to follow his type of religion which is why they will not attend church and have little time for extreme religion. After all, as he admits himself, it is largely immigrants which maintain churchgoing at all. perhaps he should look towards the faults in his religion, not the reluctance of the British people to partake in it!

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 6 January 2008 at 11:55am GMT

Bishop N-A: "the establishment of the Church of England is being eroded."

Really? A while back, Ekklesia reported that "The Church of England plans to open another 100 church secondary schools by 2011, mainly through the academies programme." I don't recall the Bishop being a strident opponent of faith schools, which many have criticised for creating exactly the conditions in society the Bishop complains about in his piece. The C of E did rather well out of it.

Bishop N-A: "is it worth persevering with the trappings of establishment?"

Could the Bishop be referring to those grand old bishops palaces, I wonder? Or gas-guzzling chauffeur-driven cars? Or perhaps, the rather privileged position on the benches of the House of Lords? Or even the high profile of our bishops in the media?

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Sunday, 6 January 2008 at 2:48pm GMT

This 80% is of the response rate of 21 per cent of those surveyed? It is news out of nothing.

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 6 January 2008 at 4:26pm GMT

Disagree with the Islamic-evangelical analogy. When I quit evangelicalism from Rome, my family didn't threaten me with death. Yes I was frosted out by some friends, but still have good relations with family and most friends. In fact i feel closer to them than a lot of Catholics.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Sunday, 6 January 2008 at 5:22pm GMT

+MNA is not a convert. His father was one. I'm not a huge fan of his, but there is no doubt at all the Christians in Pakistan are persecuted, though no worse than Shi'ites; and it's not insane to wonder whether the same mentality might not spread here.

I would be surprised if there were not streets in Muslim areas which it was dangerous for outsiders to walk down after dark; there are parts of London I wouldn't walk alone that aren't muslim, either.

Still, I predict that Establishment will become important and much more popular because it means "We're not Muslim". This article is one of the first signs of that.

Posted by: Andrew Brown on Sunday, 6 January 2008 at 5:35pm GMT

Richard Kirker and others within LGCM have been holding discreet talks with Moslem teachers and religious leaders for over a decade. The most recent sessions of this dialogue were brought to an end last year when death threats were levelled at the Moslem participants.

What became apparent to those listening to the Moslems at these meetings is just how vicious and nasty some perverse forms of Islam can be and how the British Government and others like the London Mayor are actually supporting and encouraging some of these evil groups that have taken over many UK mosques in recent years.

From our viewpoint the bishop of Rochester stands with those Christians we would see as similarly vicious and nasty – so this makes the story even more fascinating.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Sunday, 6 January 2008 at 6:44pm GMT

I'm sorry, perhaps I have misread the above article. Is it possible that a bishop named Nazir-Ali is opposed to immigration?

Posted by: Davis d'Ambly on Sunday, 6 January 2008 at 7:26pm GMT

Back from work I have looked a bit closer at The Sunday Telegraph article by Jonathan Wynn-Jones about the off-hand musings of +Rochester. It is clear that this is not merely a Media piece of sensationalist and irresponsive Journalism.

It’s also got roots… For this one Pear did not fall very far from the Apple Tree – it’s a Classic: a Sir Edward Moseley-Brigadier Powell piece of anti Emigration “Britishness first!” scare mongering.

”Britain is being damaged by large-scale immigration.”

Just so you know. But the language is guarded, not that of a journalist into sensationalist rubrics.

It is also crafty…

“it is becoming increasingly difficult for Christianity to be the nation's public religion in a multifaith, multicultural society.“

… increasingly difficult... now, define that one if you please!

“attempts are being made to give Britain an increasingly Islamic character by introducing the call to prayer and wider use of sharia law“

attempts are being made, increasingly Islamic, wider use of sharia law…

“people of a different race or faith face physical attack if they live or work in communities dominated by a strict Muslim ideology.”

Which takes the Prize! Race, faith, physical attack, dominated, Muslim ideology… all in o n e sentence! The Propaganda of the 1930ies dressed in the plain clothes of the 21st century.

And with a “poll” – the Synod Survey – to prop it up ;=)

The good Bishop is no Amateur apparently, yet the reason behind this seems less the careful nurturing of Violence in underprivileged city areas, than the problem radical Calvinism perennially experiences with an Established Church and a Communion.

Namely with the Accountability any System holds over maverick members into Anarchy ;=)

Merseymike is right in reminding us of how Old-Time Religion behaves in male-centred authoritarian cultures.

All the well known presuppositional characteristics of the age old Cultural presuppositions of Patriarchy are evident.

So, contrary to what one would have thought, this (also) seems to be all about Gaffe Con and the long awaited Coup d’Église, not about any of the “presenting issues” ; =)

Maybe things aren’t going so well after all…

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 6 January 2008 at 8:18pm GMT

Response to Robert:

OTOH, here in the US, I have known families who refused to speak to a relative who switched denominations--So. Baptist to Methodist--let alone into a completely different religion. Not quite death threats, but certainly "shunning" in the old Amish tradition.

Response to Andrew:

Similarly, here in the US, there are orthodox Jewish neighborhoods where it is not safe to drive a car on the Sabbath, whether you are Jewish or not.

The drive to make others follow YOUR rules by the most conservative elements of society is not limited to specific nations or religions.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 6 January 2008 at 8:26pm GMT

"The drive to make others follow YOUR rules by the most conservative elements of society is not limited to specific nations or religions."

Quite true. It makes instances of real interfaith conversation and action so much more welcome.

In my small town in Virgina, we have a Christian, Muslim, Jewish interfaith group [and there may be others, I'm new to it] that meets once a month over common concerns. Last week we had people from local disaster assistance groups talk to us.

We heard about a program in Charlottesville in which churches take a week at a time and open space for those who cannot get in Sally Army or choose not to. They get a simple meal, a bed for the night, and breakfast. We decided to do the same, and it is working: we got donated cots and beddding,money, insurance, some paid staff to do intake and enough churches to take weeks until the last 3 weeks of March.

Now here's the beauty part, and why this is relevant. The Islamic Association volunteered their mosque for Christmas week, so that Christians could have their usual celebrations and space.

My own church will decide whether or not to participate at the next vestry meeting. We may not be quite ready for this, but we'll see.


Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Sunday, 6 January 2008 at 9:43pm GMT

Interesting that the strongest critic of Nazir-Ali so far has been the former Conservative party leader, William Hague. I'd like to see his evidence. I think he might well find himself unwelcome, but given some of his expressed views about Islam, a religion he clearly loathes ( and I think his experience when a Roman catholic in Pakistan would have been that of the convert), that's not too surprising

Incidentally, what's the difference between the Friday call to prayer and the church bells on a Sunday morning?

I think that it is instructive that an extremist conservative Chriatian criticises conservative islam.

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 6 January 2008 at 10:10pm GMT

Extremism flourished as UK lost Christianity
By Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester


How perceptive. Extremist Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester writes a essay on the kind of extreme, excluding thinking/believing that keep people AWAY from The Church of England!

What a guy, a real quickstudy, he is, he is as he digs more trenches and isolates more Anglican/other folks wherever he goeth.

He'll make the round trip to his exclude-a-thon meet-up in Middle East a real opportunity to draw even more dangerous bloodlines in the sand.

A fear/hate-monger he is, a "uniter" he ain't!

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Sunday, 6 January 2008 at 10:26pm GMT

Merseymike - the only difference is the bells go off once a week, and the call to prayer five times a day!

Posted by: Neil on Sunday, 6 January 2008 at 11:08pm GMT

Not forgetting the Angelus rung two or three times daily in some catholic parishes.

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Monday, 7 January 2008 at 12:02am GMT

Well, Mike Roffen would know about extremism.

Ill considered rants like this are exactly the fuel that Islamic extremists require. Thanks Mike.

What a doufus.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Monday, 7 January 2008 at 3:17am GMT

Shunning is a popular tactic, one I have seen first hand.

The most startling example was when I joined into banter whilst three of us were counting the weekly tithes one night. To my shock, one of the other woman said "Ignore her, she's just attention seeking".

Apparently wanting human companionship and to contribute to a church community is only "attention seeking" for souls such as myself. Apparently we have no legitimate emotional needs so people can say and do whatever they want to us. They didn't just shun me in the parish, the slander campaign spread into other community circles (verified by witnesses so I knew it was not just my imagination or being paranoid).

I chose to "go it alone" so they wouldn't hurt any of my friends. It has been a long and lonely journey, and they have never apologised for one of their mistreatments. Rather, they see it as proof that I am out of grace and that they are blessed by God. So much for the gentleness promised by Jesus, his parishioners are trusted as much as they have proven themselves to be trustworthy. If they behave like duplicitous smiling assassins, then they have the contempt worthy of Esau as their ethics are no better.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Monday, 7 January 2008 at 7:23am GMT

The Christian Muslim Forum has also commented:

http://www.christianmuslimforum.org/subpage.asp?id=276&mainid=20

Posted by: David on Wednesday, 6 February 2008 at 11:47am GMT
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