Thursday, 7 February 2008

Sharia law in UK is 'unavoidable'

Updated: full text of lecture now available

The BBC reports:

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams says the adoption of Islamic Sharia law in the UK is “unavoidable”.

Dr Williams told BBC Radio 4’s World at One that the UK has to “face up to the fact” that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

Dr Williams argues that adopting some aspects of Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion.

For example, Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court.

He says Muslims should not have to choose between “the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty”.

In an exclusive interview with BBC correspondent Christopher Landau, ahead of a lecture to lawyers in London later on Monday, Dr Williams argues this relies on Sharia law being better understood. At the moment, he says “sensational reporting of opinion polls” clouds the issue.

He stresses that “nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that’s sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states”.

His comments are likely to fuel the debate over multiculturalism in the UK…

Here is the full transcript of the BBC radio interview. Listen to the radio interview here.

More information about the lecture can be found here and also here (PDF).

The full text of the lecture is available here.

And here is the Lambeth Palace press release about the lecture.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 1:51pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

And then the Mormons ... and the Scientologists ... and the Roman Catholics ...... A true son of Becket we've got here. The UK could do worse than compare its multicultural approach with the US "melting-pot" - which, before all Hell breaks loose, I'm not advocating as a panacea - and see which creates, over time, the greater social cohesion.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 2:14pm GMT

I've read the speech and re-read it. I don't understand a word of it and unfortunately for us hacks he doesn't replicate his BBC words in the bloody text. If anyone can tell me what he's saying I'll buy them a beer.

Posted by: riazat butt on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 2:23pm GMT

Channel 4 showed recently a programme of Sharia Law in action in the UK, where an Imam was deciding a dispute involving a chap and his two wives. Now I am married but there's a lass down the pub I fancy getting hitched to, so I wonder if the Archbishop will do me the honour?

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 2:30pm GMT

The full text of the lecture is due to be released at 6 pm tonight. I've read it too, and sympathize with Riazat.

It's definitely in the "academic" genre of literature. I do wonder what the audience who only hears it read out will make of it. But then I think that about a great many academic "papers".

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 2:53pm GMT

Well, so much for collegiality in the English House of Bishops - Nazir-Ali thinks that Muslims are all retreating into ghettos and this is a bad thing; Rowan thinks they're all retreating into ghettos, we'll jolly well have to get used to it, and the best solution is to introduce the Ottoman Empire's 'Milliyet' system to allow them to introduce Shariah law. It's fascinating that our bishops have such an insight into the thinking of the British Muslim community; would that they were blessed with such penetrating insight into the thinking of Anglicans...

Actually, I can't imagine a less helpful contribution to the debate on multi-culturalism than Rowan's. The cornerstone of pluralistic liberal democracy is the equality of all citizens under the law; this proposal undermines that directly. As the US finally looks like it is going to bury Jim Crow, it is disturbing that the head of the Church of England wants to introduce the principle of 'separate but equal' here. I disagree profoundly with many laws in operation in the UK and even more so with the system of government in operation here in Northern Ireland; that does not give me the right to declare UDI for all metropolitan liberal anti-sectarian Anglo-Catholic gay opera lovers and set up my own legal system. I do have the right to campaign to change the law, one which I often take advantage of. But societies that operate on the basis of one law for some people and another for different people are on a rapid slide downwards into Balkanisation, mistrust and intolerance. I can't think of a single politician who is Muslim in the UK who has come out to propose this until now; instead it comes from the head of the Anglican Church in England. Bizarre.

What happens if I'm a Muslim and don't want my financial dispute settled under Sharia law? What when I'm accused of being a 'traitor' for insisting on using the 'infidel' legal code? What if I'm an battered wife who doesn't want to use the friendly multi-cultural sharia family court but is too afraid to speak out publicly? The essential equality of all people is not just a vital political principal in democratic societies; it sure is the only principle that we as Christians, believing that all people are the children of God and loved equally by God, can embrace.

One of the things that has always worried me, as a cynical old liberal, about Rowan's politics is the degree to which he regards the liberties of the individual as subservient to the desires of the community. Basically, he's an old fashioned authoritarian, creeping Jesus, socialist. Fine if you like that sort of thing, and it will always get you a few positive headlines in The Guardian, but it means he consistently comes out with a retrograde view of society.

Posted by: Gerry Lynch on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 2:55pm GMT

From the BBC report/interview:

'But Dr Williams says the argument that "there's one law for everybody... I think that's a bit of a danger".'

That seems clear enough.
And mad enough.
Different law for different groups...what a recipe for social cohesion that is!

Posted by: chrisc on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 3:04pm GMT

'He stresses that “nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that’s sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states”.
Rowan Williams

What mind is HE in ? What bloody planet is he on ?

Posted by: L Roberts on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 3:11pm GMT

Looks like our dear Archbishop has completely lost the plot this time. Even if he has some remote justification for thinking this surely his media advisor should have talked him out of saying anything remotely like it in public - look out for the headlines tomorrow!

Posted by: Andrew Holden on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 3:13pm GMT

Lapinbizarre, our melting pot over here may not be a panacea, but it's working better than the present British efforts. By the third generation in the U.S., immigrant populations are totally integrated into the mainstream. It's true that the mainstream is changed thereby, as are the immigrants, and that may make us a mongrel culture. This seems preferable to the creation of ghettoes whose inhabitants may harbor violent thoughts about those outside the walls. We've tried that over here (see Crow, Jim) and it's a really bad idea.

Posted by: Katherine on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 3:22pm GMT

here's the thing. you take a little bit of book learning, a bit of poetry, a bit of mystical talk, and shaggy beard. you mix them together. you get rowan williams, and everyone says he's a saint and a scholar. i've never gone along with that one, myself. he's a man so far out of his depth in this job that he doesn't even know how far from the sea bed he is. time to go.

Posted by: poppy tupper on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 4:01pm GMT

OK -- I can't make any sense of this, either (rather par for the course for me & this ABC, alas), but the "sleepwalking to segregation" comments from The National Secular Society make sense to me:
"Our view is simple. You can't have a country where you have separate laws for separate faith groups," ... "The same religious groups who are calling for integration are the same one who want segregation."

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 4:06pm GMT

'But Dr Williams says the argument that "there's one law for everybody... I think that's a bit of a danger".'

Absolutely wrong as to the civil and criminal law within a specific nation, but exactly the right approach to relationships between the churches of the Anglican Communion. He's got it backwards, that's all.

Posted by: Brant-n-LA on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 4:13pm GMT

What I think he is saying is that he believes that society needs to allow some level of discretion which allows religionists to opt out of particular laws which they disagree with - on much the same lines as exemptions for the church in terms of employing gays in relationships for a limited number of jobs

Similarly , aspects of sharia law particularly in the 'private' sphere should be viewed as acceptable for the same reasons - and are effectively already in operation.

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 4:16pm GMT

"ABC It's very important hat you mention there the word 'choice'; I think it would be quite wrong to say that we could ever licence so to speak a system of law for some community which gave people no right of appeal, no way of exercising the rights that are guaranteed to them as citizens in general, so that a woman in such circumstances would have to know that she was not signing away for good and all; now this is a matter of detail that I don't know enough about the detail of the law in the Islamic law in this context;"

Here's one of the problems, of course. If the burden of opting in or out of Sharia law is placed on individual women who may be subject to the pressures of family, community, and religion, it is intrinsically unfair. Women may be caught in impossible situations, forced, perhaps, to chose between their rights to continued spousal support (if there is such a thing in England) and maintaining ties with their families, neighbors, and mosques. What real safeguards against abuse would a woman have here?

The idea of having the force of law behind people is precisely to give them protections larger than themselves, not leaving them alone to face their accusers or to resolve conflicts.

Posted by: --sheila-- on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 4:41pm GMT

He's never seemed like a 'headline hound' so I don't think he's trying to be outrageous. I don't think Rowan's very careful about what he says, though. 'Thoughts in progress' just sorta slip out. I think that the normal cerebral gatekeeper who prevents me and you from suddenly standing up and saying 'Oh look - a fat lady!' has not been doing his job for a long time and has made the poor man appear quite autistic.

Posted by: Raspberry Rabbit on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 4:43pm GMT

mm has it right.

Posted by: Andrew Brown on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 4:43pm GMT

I expect a "clarification" soon enough. No American politician, from the extreme social-conservative Republican to the extreme Trotskyite liberal, would advocate different laws for different people. Both extremes would like to control us, but they understand that they must pass it into law, a law for everyone. No religious leader, surely no Episcopalian, would suggest Sharia law for Muslims, general US and state laws for others. ABC's office will have a "comment", I guess, by tomorrow. I hope the Brown Government also has something to say. The American melting-pot continues its happy melting; the force is irresistible.

Posted by: Andrew on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 4:43pm GMT

So-- this is good? I see a day when easy transition between Islam and Christianity becomes possible - somewhat similar to obtaining a degree from an advertisement on the back of a pack of matches - no doubt lawyers will advise clients which court of law will view their issues more favorably and the choice of religion will then follow that advice. Yes, Rowan certainly enters on a path without looking down the road to where the curves and croosroads show up. He has now created a new niche within the legal profession and within Islam itself - all with one interview! What is not possible if he goes with a TV series? Will it be a la Monte Python?

Posted by: ettu on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 4:55pm GMT

I've lost all respect for the AoC. I live in the U.S. which derived it's legal sytem from English Common law developed over a 1000 years. Any person whether citizen, resident or tourist of any country on this planet must abide by the laws of the country they are currently in. To even suggest more than one legal system would not bring social cohesion but anarchy.

Posted by: Michael Keith on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 4:55pm GMT


The Archbishop thinks that local, cultural variations should be respected and allowed -- except when those local, cultural variations involved the American Episcopal Church ordaining and marrying gays! We're always the exception!

For some reason it seems that Muslims should have more rights than Episcopalians!

If Muslims should be allowed to follow their own Sharia law in England, then Episcopalians should be allowed to follow their own constitutional and canonical laws in the US.

Posted by: John-Julian, OJN on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 5:03pm GMT

Yikes! I've been a big supporter of Rowan Williams, but this statement just defies belief. Is he advocating striking off an offender's hand for stealing? The death penalty by stoning for adultery? At least in the US, this would be viewed as "cruel and unusual punishment" which is strictly prohibited by our Constitution.

Recalling my Locke, the law of the land must represent a compact among the people -- all the people. If Muslims want to live under Sharia law, I know several places in the world where they can do so. Sharia is antithetical to the Western concept of law and human rights. It should not be permitted anywhere Liberty is desired.

Posted by: ruidh on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 5:10pm GMT

Merseymike: "allows religionists to opt out of particular laws which they disagree with - on much the same lines as exemptions for the church in terms of employing gays in relationships"

A perfect example of why the parallel legal codes that Rowan suggests are legally unworkable. What happens when a Scottish Jew is taken to sharia court by an English Muslim over a business transaction? Which law do we apply, Scottish or English, Sharia or Levitical?

Posted by: Stephen Roberts on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 5:19pm GMT

What's he on about?

Equality before the law is one of the principles on which justice is based in England and Wales. If, for instance, the Family Courts are having to apply different systems to different classes of people then that is a recipe for disaster.

If, however, there is some sort of recognition of decisions made after arbitration or mediation according to certain (e.g. in this case) Muslim principles then that is not actually (in my humble opinion) bringing Sharia law into English law but allowing people to come to decisions that are recognised by law according to mutually agreed criteria as in any 'consensual compact.'

There must, however, always be appeal to the court, which will apply UK law.

Posted by: Wilf on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 5:42pm GMT

Lets just put the best face on it and say that Sharia has few conflicts with human rights or the law of a given country. Even assuming that, which I don't, the foundation of a western liberal democracy is the principle of the 'rule of law'. The law stands as an arbiter between people with all of their cultural and religious baggage. It appears foolish to me to abandon that principle for an ideal of social cohesion that may or may not be attainable, or frankly even exist in the real world.

And quite frankly if it comes down to allowing some religious interpretation of the law or becoming a secularist along the lines of Robespierre, sharpen your guillotine, I am not going down that easy.

Posted by: winnowing on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 5:52pm GMT

Gerry - an excellent post. The policy of 'seperate but equal' is a cornerstone of hardline Muslim opinion, and +Canterbury has played right into their hands. This will dismay that modest group of liberal Muslims who have been working hard to challenge these assumptions within the community. The questions you raise about a two tier legal system, and the pressures that will now be released within the Muslim community for all adherents to stay within the Shar'ia system are insightful, obviously too insightful for Dr Williams.

'Separate but equal' never works. It creates ghettoisation and discrimination by its very nature. The same phrase is used by hardline Muslim scholars to describe the dhimmi laws for non-Muslim religions under Shar'ia, which are based on anything but the principles of equality and freedom of worship.

+Canturbury has finally lost the plot.

Posted by: John Omani on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 6:02pm GMT

I think the clue lies in this answer by the Archbishop: "That is why there is a place for finding what would be a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law as we already do with some kinds of aspects of other religious law."

What I think he is referring to is the fact that English law gives some form of recognition to decisions of Jewish religious courts. (This is a million miles from any area in which I can claim expertise, and I can't give any kind of detail.) If he does mean that there should be equality of treatment as between (in this case) Jew and Muslim, I am inclined to agree with him, just as I would agree that a state which funds Anglican, Roman Catholic and Jewish schools should also fund Muslim, Sikh and Hindu schools.

English courts do, by the way, recognise "talaq" divorces awarded in Muslim countries - something which I would regard as one of the more contentious aspects of Muslim family law. Some banks and building societies have also found ways of offering "sharia-compliant" mortgages, allowing Muslims to fund house purchase while observing the precepts of their religion.

I am inclined to agree with Simon that His Grace has once again managed to obscure his meaning - a pity, since I have heard him preach a sermon, with no hint of condescension, that was completely understandable by every member of a very mixed congregation.

Posted by: Alan Harrison on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 7:05pm GMT

In order to be nondiscriminatory you would have to give everyone the option of which system of law they will be tried under. So you would have to create a dhimmi class for the non-Muslims who might prefer or settle for Sharia law in certain cases. And how would cases be settled when one party opts for Sharia law and the other for English law?

Posted by: Anthony W on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 7:16pm GMT

Just when I think that Rowan Williams couldn't possibly get his foot any deeper into his mouth, he is once again able to amaze me. This man has to be one of the most politically incompetent leaders in the history of the western world.

Posted by: Richard Lyon on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 8:08pm GMT

The ABC has just demonstrated that he has given up on the reality of a 'common good'. No wonder the Anglican Comunion is falling apart on his watch.

Posted by: Frank Durkee on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 8:23pm GMT

On one level, I understand this, having lived in and near an orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn for several years. Divorces, as an example, were handled by rabbinic courts within the orthodox community before being "ratified" (for want of a better term) by the civil authorities.

On another level, though, the orthodox Jews of Brooklyn never assumed that they had the right to, for example, stone an adulterer.

The problem is that you first have to have agreement among the religious community in question as to what issues are appropriately handled through the religious courts and what ones are appropriately left to the civil authorities.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 8:27pm GMT

"We've tried that over here (see Crow, Jim) and it's a really bad idea."

But Katherine, there are other options besides Jim Crow and cultural absorption. We Canadians haven't adopted the melting pot idea, we value the cultural mosaic. Now it isn't ideal either, and we have had recently to deal with the threat of Sharia Law in family court situations. Thanks be to God clearer minds prevailed. I am appalled that the ABpofC would actually advocate the adoption of laws that deprive half the population of justice in areas of family law. This is the first time I've actually felt so strongly opposed to anything he's said. I pray to God he comes around. But you don't need to dissolve everybody into a monoculture just to avoid racism and Jim Crow, there are other options.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 8:42pm GMT

They proposed this in Ontario, Canada. The loudest opposition came from Muslims themselves (esp women's groups.) The government dropped it. Everyone assumes all Muslims are of one mind on this... they aren't. Most moved to Canada (and the UK, presumably) to get away from these laws.

Posted by: toujoursdan on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 9:40pm GMT

It's one thing to allow Old Order Mennonites to educate their kids only up to 8th grade, or to allow students to be absent on their own religious holidays.

Christian Scientist parents have been taken to court to force them to treat gravely ill kids - with mixed results, I believe.

It's quite another thing to excuse people from large areas of civil law - divorce and marriage for example. The Mormons abandoned polygamy, if I remember correctly, as the possibility of statehood for Utah loomed. They knew that could not come in as the one state allowing it.

The ABC has done such a swell job of handling the Anglican Communion that I'm sure English Muslims are thrilled to have him help them out. So far as I know, he's not trained in the law, is he?

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 10:01pm GMT

This isn't just about the Muslims. I don't htink he's really thought through things like honor killing, stoning, or polygamy, wearing the hijab, or ... or.... or.... .

This is about he wants an "out" for conservative Christians too, in regard to gays and women.

Once the state's laws don't apply to everyone, they essentially apply to no one.

Political correctness (an issue I have with the British left) to the n'th degree. I remember some years ago that a storybook about a girl taming a horse was dismissed as racist by the London Council, because the girl was white and the horse was black.

I do not believe in cultural relativism but clearly Williams does.

NOW, can we see the evangelical wingnuts go after him the same way they went after Jefferts Schori ?


Posted by: IT on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 10:28pm GMT

We tend to forget that Williams is also the leader of a world wide communion whose membership includes Sudan and Nigeria (which have suffered heavily under Sharia law).

He is either naive or confused and clearly not up to the job.

Posted by: Maduka on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 10:51pm GMT

I think there are advantages and disadvantages to Rowan's suggestion. In Canada, there have been experiments using Native people's conflict resolution systems to address problems that would otherwise be settled in court. They're especially good at addressing the problem of restitution to victims of crime. Civil courts are generally hopeless at restitution: people may get punished, but restitution is rarely even given a second thought.

On that basis, one can imagine other local forms of conflict resolution. However, such local methods of conflict resolution need checks and balances: they need the possibility of appeal. I would be hard-pressed to imagine where Sharia law could operate in the UK without being subject to an appeal to the civil (or the criminal) law at some point.

That said, I haven't read Rowan's paper yet,and he might well have addressed these issues.


Posted by: Joe Cassidy on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 11:10pm GMT

Members of the secular society are allowed to "opt out" of the secular laws and secular courts on a routine basis, through contracts that provide for binding arbitration and define the rules that are to be applied. England already allows voluntary recourse to some Orthodox Jewish and Church of England courts. Why should Muslims not have the same ability? Are they not entitled to the same rights as a credit card company? If you read the article and listen to the interview, +Rowan is perfectly clear that sharia would only apply when all the relevant parties voluntarily submitted to its jurisdiction, and even then there should be a right of appeal to the secular courts. It could not be used to reduce the rights anyone enjoys as a British subject, only to safeguard their freedom of religion. If the society does not defer to one religion, it will soon defer to none.

Posted by: Dale Rye on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 11:13pm GMT

I suspect Merseymike has correctly highlighted one aspect of +Rowan's motivation. He seemed pretty upset last year that the government appears to have abandoned the idea of accommodating consciencious objection. (Not +Rowan's conscience (which is in line with the SORs) but the conscience of others - particularly the Roman Catholics (who he thinks are wrong!!!)

Posted by: david wh on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 11:37pm GMT

... ps I just thought of an idea for the Lambeth Conference. How about the Bishops choosing the first representatively selected ABofC from among the Primates?

That should get everyone to come!

Posted by: david wh on Thursday, 7 February 2008 at 11:50pm GMT

When I said that the US "melting pot" is not a panacea, Katherine, I was not dismissing it out of hand - personally I also think that it's working better - far better - than the British attempts at a multicultural system - I just didn't want to open the door to diverting the thread to discussion of the pros & cons of the American system, as can easily happen. Incidentally I, like you, live "over here".

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 1:09am GMT

I really should add that I was trying to explain RW's stance, not justify it. I don't agree with it. But - I hope that evangelical Christians will accept the logic of rejection by agreeing to give up their religious exemptions to laws they do not approve of. otherwise, they really don't have any coherentr arguments against this suggestion other than 'my religion is better than your religion'

Which simply isn't part of a contemporary secular democracy. No exceptions from the law for religious reasons. It should apply to all.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 1:51am GMT

I think it's time the Archbishop of Canterbury ought try and concentrate on the discrimination, persecution, demoralization and criminalization of fellow Christians at the Anglican Communion.

Speaking out against injustice, exclusion and the demoralization/abomination of fellow Christians at all levels of Churchlife ought begin at HOME at The Body of Christ.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 3:14am GMT

We in the West must be true to our tradition and give good example to Muslim countries that we wish to lead away from integrism and toward democracy. That means we must uphold the painfully established principle of the separation of Church and State. Britain could give the lead here by disestablishing the Church of England, the last bastion of the Union of Throne and Altar.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 5:51am GMT

ruidh posted: "Recalling my Locke, the law of the land must represent a compact among the people -- all the people. If Muslims want to live under Sharia law, I know several places in the world where they can do so. Sharia is antithetical to the Western concept of law and human rights. It should not be permitted anywhere Liberty is desired."


If I want to drink wine with dinner at a restaurant, or go skinny dipping at the beach, I can't expect to live in Saudi Arabia.

And if a conservative Muslim wants to apply Sharia law to his family, and his life, he should not expect to live in the UK, or in the US, or any nation where tolerance is a basic element of society, and an established body of law prevails.

One body of law. One standard for justice.

In the US, when you take an oath as you are commissioned as an officer in the Armed Forces, you swear "to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, against all enemies, foreign and domestic." The oath for public officials also invokes the Constitution.

You do not swear to support the Bible, or the Koran, or the Book of Mormon, or any other favored religious text.

I am solidly religious, but when it comes to affairs of State, or personal rights and liberty for men and women and children, there is no place for religious differences with the Constitution, or whatever the basis of law may be in your land.

This seems a very odd proposal from someone who should be more sensitive to basic human rights.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 6:39am GMT

The Archbishop is a dangerous buffoon, His suggestion is divisive and dangerous.

Posted by: Sharia Law? on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 10:48am GMT

The Ab's suggstions, if carried out, would probably prove unworkable and chaotic in the extreme. But well done to him for inadvertently raising the issue of legal monopoly. If there is some uniform dogmatic law that applies to a whole country (as there needs to be) then people are less likely to want alternatives if the said law is coherent and based on truth rather than legal fictions.

After all, for every point that could be brought against sharia law on divorce for example, at least one or two could be brought against our existing divorce laws:
(1) Divorce involves no fault. Yeah, right.
(2) Even if there is fault, one can assume it is always precisely equal on both sides. Sure!
(3) But supposing that one party is in the wrong, and the other in the right, it is the one in the wrong that we should often respect and honour. For example, the path of unfaithfulness should be that which is recommended, and the path of reconciliation shunned. On no account should the one who wants reconciliation ever win, and on no account should the one who wants to mix up and confuse marriage bonds ever lose.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 12:42pm GMT

Andrew wrote: "the extreme Trotskyite liberal".

Duh???? What on earth would a "Trotskyite liberal", extreme or moderate, look like? Having been active in left politics for about thirty years, I have some basic acquaintance with Trotsky's thought and followers, and I'm totally flummoxed by the idea that either the theory or its adherents have any connection with liberalism.

Posted by: Alan Harrison on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 12:48pm GMT

"Why should Muslims not have the same ability? Are they not entitled to the same rights as a credit card company?"

Are Muslim women not entitled to the same rights as other women? Should a Muslim woman be at risk of destitution with no hope of protection if her husband wishes to divorce her? Should she automatically lose her children in that instance? As has been said, we have been through this in Canada, and there's as many human rights issues around women's rights under Shari'a as there are issues of the religious rights of Muslims.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 2:24pm GMT

Is the key word " inevitable " as Surely Rowan is right....Muslims could through sustained immigration and a higher birth rate become the majority a hundred years from now,as the rest of us, produce neagtive population growth due to contraception,abortion and an attitude that children are a burden.We are sitting and reaping a demographic time bomb and that is why a blind eye is being shown to Eastern European immigration.

Rowan Williams is NO duffer

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 7:13pm GMT

It's a shame that TA doesn't have a CAPTCHA facility that would prevent anybody who hasn't read the Archbishop's speech from actually commenting on it. Honestly; the number of people today (and not just here) who come up with sophomore "trick" questions to prove that the Archbishop is an idiot, or mad, or dangerous! *Read the speech*, and then comment. (And don't say you can't understand it either. I've got no legal training and precious little philosophical training, and I managed to get the gist of what he said.)

Posted by: Justin Lewis-Anthony on Friday, 8 February 2008 at 7:46pm GMT

I see people saying there would be the right of appeal: but if Sharia law is legitimated, what would be the grounds for appeal to secular law? Just not liking the result and wanting to start over with another legal system? Or misapplication of Sharia law? Wouldn't that have to be decided under Sharia law itself? This sounds more and more like Lewis Carroll, another great British jurisprudist (jurisprudentialist?).

Posted by: Anthony W on Saturday, 9 February 2008 at 2:51am GMT

I believe that the ABC is no fool. I also believe he has one of the best minds in the UK. He is also Primus inter pares of the world-wide Anglican Communion. To say that he was chosen by any other than the Holy Spirit is to say that the Holy Spirit has no part in the election of Bishops in the Anglican Church. I do believe he was God's choice for us at this time.

Archbishop Rowan was invited to the Temple Church to give a lecture on jurisprudence from the point of view of a religious leader concerned for the people of other religious traditions.

What he said was to the effect that, with the inevitablity of further Muslim immigration into Britain, the Government of the country which is welcoming this influx of Muslim migrants will need to have regard to the spiritual and cultural needs of these particular citizens, where they do not conflict with the common law requirements of other citizens. Full stop. He did not advocate the adoption of those parts of Sharia Law which are in conflict with basic human rights.

Archbishop Rowan has, during his tenure as the Archbishop of Canterbury, been subjected to a great deal of media criticism which has been unwarranted - largely because of ignorance on the part of press reporters, whose objective can be narrowed down to one of sensationalist reportage. This is nothing new. It is however discouraging for the Church of England to have to submit to the vitriol of those who have no faith, but want to denigrate the integrity of the ABC and the Church.

Archbishop Rowan of Canterbury and Archbishop John Sentamu of York are both men of spiritual and humanitarian attributes, which have to be seen in the light of the Gospel they are bound to promote. We shall have a chance to examine their joint leadership at the upcoming Lambeth Conference, where they will be presiding over a world-wide community of Anglican Bishops who are going to have to deal with other matters which threaten to divide not only the world-wide Anglican Communion, but society as we know it. Let's give them a chance, and see what they come up with. My prayers are with them.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 22 February 2008 at 2:54am GMT
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