Comments: bishops report on countering terrorism

How ridiculous. The CofE really seems to be losing its sense of direction. The bishops can't apologise for something they didn't do or advocate themselves. This is just gesture politics that simply feeds the sense of righteous victimisation that Muslim extremists use for recruitment. And I bet no one in the benches of the CofE actually supports this sort of thing. Disstablishment looks more attractive every day . . .

Posted by dan at Monday, 19 September 2005 at 10:49am BST

I don't agree with everything in the Bishops' report, but it is more judicious and balanced than the press reports make it appear. While it is unashamedly written from a liberal perspective, it isn't just a piece of liberal hand-wringing and does make a serious attempt to accommodate the views of those who supported the war. Personally I am not convinced of the need for a South-Africa-style Truth & Reconciliation Commission in Iraq (and I wish Anglicans would be a little more critical in their attitude to the TRC, instead of treating it as a universally applicable model for conflict resolution), but I am rather taken with the idea that the Western democracies should apologise for their role in supporting and arming Saddam's monstrous regime.

Posted by Andrew Conway at Monday, 19 September 2005 at 4:07pm BST

Dan is quite right - how many Church of England members support this kind of statement? Or the statement on civil partnerships? Have the bishops forgotten that we are supposed to be a synodical church?

Perhaps we will see newly-elected lay members of the General Synod holding up placards at the first session, "Not in my name!"

Posted by G J Hartwell at Tuesday, 20 September 2005 at 12:26am BST

Andrew Conway writes that the report is "unashamedly written from a liberal perspective". I'm not so sure, at least where issues of war and peace are concerned. What is noteworthy, I think, is that one of the authors is the Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries. Dr Harries has been the most reliable exponent of the "just war" tradition of Christian thought, and could be relied upon by editors to come up with a piece arguig a Christian case for, say, nuclear weapons. Whether one agrees with him or not, he can't be written off as a liberal patsy.

Posted by Alan Harrison at Tuesday, 20 September 2005 at 1:00pm BST

Andrew, we may have been culpable in supporting Saddam Hussein's Iraq against the Iranians. However, arming is another matter.

Iraq had Russian tanks, Russian rifles, Russian artillery, Russian missiles, Russian armoured personnel carriers, Russian (OK, and some French) aircraft, Russian radar, Russian radios.

I think I spot a pattern there...

Posted by John Farre at Tuesday, 20 September 2005 at 4:51pm BST

Well I'm glad to see that the church of Scotland hasnt lost its cahones, unlike liberal anglicanism.

http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1818182005

Posted by David at Tuesday, 20 September 2005 at 9:17pm BST

What is going on?

4 people blow themselves up in the name of Islam but we rightly recognise that the Moslem community as a group does not need to apologise.

Britain fights a secular war to depose an odious secular dictator, gaining support from many Moslems such as the Kurds, yet now we are all guilty, and Christians have to apologise.

Do you think that such a move will make the next suicide bomber think again or do you think it will confirm him in his view that the West is deliberately setting out to destroy Islam?

Posted by Peter at Wednesday, 21 September 2005 at 4:02pm BST

It seems once again the Liberal element within global Anglicanism has forsaken the biblical tension between truth and love (Eph. 4:1f). As with the ordination of homosexuals, does anything go? Is no sense of inherent value placed in Scripture anymore, except that which appeases the carnal nature?

There is such a thing as 'truth,' even in our postmodern world, and it is sometimes worth standing for. Colin Powell recently commented that he did not support all the reasons for the Iraq war, but did support it based upon the violation of UN (talk about no back-bone!) sanctions (thanks in no small measure to Syria).

Is nothing, or no one worth fighting for any more? Is everything reduced to greed and self-interest? Sure, oil is a factor, but so were the lives of Iraqi's subjugated under a totalitarian regime. What Islamic groups were coming to their aid?

You can be sure these Anglican bishops do not speak for me and mine.

Posted by John Haase at Wednesday, 21 September 2005 at 9:22pm BST

I had read the thread here a few days ago, was about to comment but, as an Episcopalian and citizen of the United States, I figured I had better things to do this side of the pond. Then, this morning, someone invited my attention to an interview of Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright in "Response," a magazine of the Seattle Pacific University.

I was particularly struck by Bishop Wright's discussion of the unity of politics and religion, which, after all, is both the substance of the CofE working group's report and, interestingly, the main thrust of their criticism of U.S. policy.

First, Bishop Wright:

"So when Jesus says, 'My kingdom is not of this world,' he doesn’t mean it has nothing to do with the world. It means he’s not getting orders from the world, but for the world...as he said, 'My kingdom come, on earth as in Heaven....'" After noting that Caesar was the pop god of the 1st Century, Wright notes: "[I]t’s Jesus who is enthroned on Caesar’s cross, if you like. The weapon which Caesar uses to torture people has become the imperial throne of the new emperor...

"Now, for us, hearing all this post-Enlightenment, post-Voltaire and Rousseau, post-Jefferson, again it is very, very difficult, because it’s been axiomatic in the Western world that religion and politics are simply not the same thing...We’ve created a political vacuum in our religion. We’ve created a religious vacuum in our politics. And what’s happened suddenly in this last decade or so is that the seal between those two vacuums has started to leak, and when that happens, you get explosions. And 9/11 was exactly that — religion and politics bursting into each other’s spheres again — and everyone saying, 'Oh, my goodness, they can’t mean this; this can’t be real.' But it is real, and it’s happened. And, of course, what’s happened is that we have rejoined the mainland that most of the human race, for most of human history, has known — and most of it still does — that what you believe about God or the divine or whatever and what you believe about how we humans organize our world and how we live in it and organize ourselves, they are part of the same thing and they cannot be separated....[A]ny would-be Christian attempt to go back to a world in which Paul is only about theology and Jesus only about going to heaven [with] nothing to say about real life, is simply a vain and foolish dream. We’d better get used to living in the reunited, reintegrated real world, and there’s some very, very hard questions that we post-Enlightenment societies now have to ask."

Now consider "Countering Terrorism: Power, Violence and Democracy Post 9/11" which condemns the war, rails against the influence of the "Christian right" on US policy and calls for an "institutional" Christian apology to Muslims. It is highly critical of a link it alleges between US policy and a "millenialist" view of the Bible: "The Book of Revelation, far from being a justification of American expansionism, is in fact a fierce critique of the imperial enterprise." Can't recall Revelation being discussed at any Foreign Relations Committee hearing; perhaps I missed it.

And, speaking of vacuum, the report was written without regard for its adverse impact on Iraq's small, embattled Christian community, according to the Archbishop's own Emissary to the Middle East who, strangely, was not consulted by the working group.

The Rev. Cannon Andrew White told CNSNEWS.COM that the working group acted without due regard for the "profound effect" of its words on the welfare of Christians in the region who already suffer persecution. The head of the Foundation for Reconciliation in the Middle East, Canon White is part-time rector of St. George's Memorial Church, Baghdad's largest protestant congregation and the only Anglican church in Iraq to survive after Saddam Hussein forced its closure 10 years ago with looters finishing the job in 2003.

Notably, the working group report won praise from Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. Obviously convinced that religion and politics are inseparable, the Egyptian Islamic scholar once called Palestinian suicide bombings justifiable.

Keeping in mind Bishop Wright's notion of the inseparability of faith and politics, the working group delivers a sucker punch to the "moral" foundation of US foreign policy, stating "there is no uniquely righteous nation,...no...redeemer nation." Boiled down to a faretheewell, I suppose the Bishops are saying, "Don't do good, because you aren't good." So,...shall we do bad? Or perhaps nothing at all, which is often worse than bad.

East of London, where he tries to shepherd 300 Iraqi Christians and welcomes them to a Eucharistic Feast crowned by concertina wire and anti-truck-bomb barricades , Canon White warns that "the situation is dangerous on the ground" and made more so by the language in the working group report.

After Baghdad fell, Canon White held a service giving thanks for the liberation effort. At that service were British and US diplomats and military with tanks and helicopters providing security. Missionaries soon rolled into the country in significant numbers. "In one month alone, eight new churches were started," he writes. "The missionaries have now all left. It is now deemed too dangerous for people to visit Iraq."

Yet, "St. George’s...grows from strength to strength," Canon White writes. "We are a very poor church. We have no budget, no funding, no security and yet this is one of the richest churches I have ever been part of."

So, while leaders of a disunited communion chide nation-states for acting morally, people of radically different faiths have no problems forging their politics with their religion. The recently drafted Iraqi constitution forbids passage of any law that "contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam." According to the Barnabas Fund (www.barnabasfund.org) which combats Christian genocide, one of those undisputed rules prescribes death for Muslims who leave Islam and embrace any another faith.

The report calls for better "understanding" of terrorists.

Muhammad said, "Whoever renounces his religion, kill him."

I understand that perfectly.

- - - - -

I hope my contribution is helpful; the Wright interview can be found here: http://www.spu.edu/depts/uc/response/summer2k5/

Posted by Thomas C. Wyld at Sunday, 25 September 2005 at 7:16pm BST
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