on Monday, 11 February 2008 at 3.57 pm by Simon Sarmiento
categorised as General Synod
The full text of what Rowan Williams said can be found here.
This was preceded by a standing ovation from the members of the synod.
Complete audio recording of this address available here.
>> This was preceded by a standing ovation from the members of the synod.
And so they should. Not because they like or don’t like what he has said in this whole ‘Sharia’ situation, but just because he’s prepared to stand there in such a tough role for us all and be the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Its been notable that those with the nastiest things to say are those who have been gunning for him since the start.
The conservative evangelicals
He really should realise that they are not his friends.
so, no apology, then, nor any sign of human self-doubt? arrogant. arrogant. arrogant.
David – I basically agree but a small bit of me asks, “What were his realistic choices?” Sometimes one just has to go forward regardless and volition -while still there- is quite limited. Other than resignation or sending a substitute he was really without an alternative.
Rowan warns us of ‘the possibility of using conflicts in the Communion as an excuse to pursue self-seeking agendas in various contexts, and the great danger this poses in divided or fragile local churches.’ Am I reading him correctly? Is Rowan saying that TECs (and the C of E’s) actions, seen correctly as insensitive and patronising (otherwise why apologise?), caused such conflicts in the Communion that Kunonga was given an opportunity to make admittedly preposterous excuses for his behaviour? If we turn the clocks back, this is tantamount to blaming civil rights campaigners for the kind of social unrest and… Read more »
“those who have been gunning for him since the start.”
It isn’t only the Consevos, Mike. The Right slags him because he isn’t Right wing enough, and possibly because he’s an Anglo-catholic. The Left slags him because he isn’t Left enough. Essentially each side is upset with him because he hasn’t used some sort of dictatorial power he doesn’t have to begin with to enforce their particular understanding of How the World Ought to Be. Which means he’s right in the middle, where we want the ABpofC to be.
“Am I reading him correctly?”
At this point, Joe, I’m not even sure that *Rowan* is capable of reading Rowan correctly! ;-/
Well +Rowan *did* again refer to the threat to religious freedom of conscience as one reason for his speech last week. As MM thought! I guess that he, like religious Human Rights people, have begun to wake up to the threat to religious freedom from ‘secular’ legislation. Although transsexual and homosexual rights are, I think, the first moral-rights issues where no *individual* right of consciencious objection has been allowed for (yet) I think we might expect laws on other ‘modernising’ issues to be handed down in the same manner soon… Here’s an interesting view from across the pond: http://www.becketfund.org/index.php/article/722.html As… Read more »
Look at the context in which Rowan even entered this discussion. “The lecture was written as an opening contribution to a series on Islam and English Law mounted by the Temple Church and London University.” He was asked to contribute and he chose to do so in a meaningful and deep way. Engaging with the debates of the day means taking on the vexatious issues, knowing they can arouse debates and emotions. Some infectious wounds are best healed by frequent cleaning with salty water. “The law of the land still guarantees for all the basic components of human dignity.” I… Read more »
merseymike. don’t be so sure. i, and many others, have no time for rowan williams because he has let down women, and he has let down homosexuals, and he has let down the american church. Just for a handful of silver he left us, Just for a riband to stick in his coat– Found the one gift of which fortune bereft us, Lost all the others she lets us devote; They, with the gold to give, doled him out silver, So much was theirs who so little allowed: How all our copper had gone for his service! Rags–were they purple,… Read more »
One can also hear RW’s remarks as a somewhat veiled and low key warning to the campaigners, that if they persist in bearing false witness against neighbors across Anglican believer differences, not least by continuing to make war on historic church life leeway, breadth, diversity of inquiry, and comprehension; they may just find themselves outside Big Tent Anglicanism. Provided of course that RW still really believes in, and is leading to maintain, Big Tent Anglicanism worldwide. So we come to the RW puzzle: Does RW believe in Big Tent Anglicanism – as so much of his talk and action seems… Read more »
Mr. Williams says it is okay to let people of “faith” exempt themselves from the law and practice discrimination. That is why the C of E supported the “right” of Roman adoption agencies to exclude same-sex couples from adoptions. Presumably “religious” registrars would be allowed not to celebrate civil partnerships. Fortunately, Parliament does not agree with him that religious people should be given special rights to harm others. As he himself explains in this speech to the synod, Sharia stands as a symbol for the rights of religious individuals in an increasingly secular society. How generous of him to attempt… Read more »
Well, he has taken responsibility for the misleading nature of his comments, which is I suppose all we can expect. But he ought to be apologising to those in other faith communities who he has let down, particuarly for setting back the work of progressive Muslims, such as British Muslims for Secular Democracy and MECO with his desire to accommodate shar’ia family law, as well as Jewish figures for his misleading suggestion that the Beth Din tribunals somehow incorporate Jewish religious law into English law, thereby causing all sorts of rumours to sprout about Jewish special privileges. If it is… Read more »
Joe: I’m not sure that’s the way to read his comments at all. You could easily flip your take around and read them as a reproof to the strong African churches who are “making mischief” in the divided local church in America.
I expect the Archbishop’s ambiguity here was intentional.
Merseymike – In no way can the CE’s be said to be the only ones who are not his friends. I saw on another site a poster commenting how the ABC had at last managed to unite liberals and evangelicals such was the vitriol against him on various message boards.
Including this one.
Simon: I have been and remain extremely critical of RW. However, at one time I was optimistic about him – whereas the conservative evos have always loathed him. I think that the point he was making has been illuminated now and it is as i thought – but I think that if its a choice between opt-outs for all religions including Islam, and no opt-outs for anyone, then its become crystal clear what has support from government and the public. Religious liberty still exists – but only in the private sphere. In a pluralist society, the only workable way forward.… Read more »
‘I saw on another site a poster commenting how the ABC had at last managed to unite liberals and evangelicals.’ Williams is no friend of liberalism. His attack on the monopoly of secular law and his wish to create laws whereby religious beliefs are protected from criticism are grounded on a profoundly reactionary agenda. Conservatives like David Wh. posting above have already realised the implications of what he is offering. One of the few benefits of this fiasco is that he has managed to unite clear-minded thinkers from both left and right on the political spectrum into a defence of… Read more »
The combined forces of the Establishment, media and blogosphere have effectively killed off any notion that exemptions to gay rights legislation could be extended to encompass religious conscience outside organised religion. The anomalous opt outs granted to the C of E by the government have been exposed.
Despite all, Rowan William’s archiepiscopacy remains intact. It remains to be seen whether a weakened Canterbury will help the liberal cause.
I have just read the speech made to the synod, and I thought it was dreadful. He is basically saying that a real, important and probably unavoidable difference and dispute is to blame for opportunistic types as in Zimbabwe – gives them the excuse. That’s all wrong, completely the wrong way around. What would be the solution: a false presentation of agreement across the board? Public relations? Before this he also said that the real disagreements that have led to some Churches pulling out are: “experienced as patronising or manipulative or insensitive actions and attitudes on the part of many… Read more »
Yes, I agree. It’s managed to get people together for all the wrong reasons. And for that, Dr. Williams should not stand down. Yet. I think he may stay on until Lambeth 2008, but beyond that I am no longer sure. That’s what I am afraid about. You think this row is about Shariah law? It’s all about the pent-up anger on both sides, as witness Poppy’s two, um, harangues. It’s all about, as Ford said, Williams’s failure to be anyone’s activist. A bishop cannot be one. He or she is paradoxically called to be a sign of unity and… Read more »
I’ve added more detail to my comments at my blog – No… No… No… http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2008/02/no-no-no.html His apology is a politician’s apology. And also there is a rewrite to understand that lecture to the lawyers. He says he did not argue for parallel jurisdiction. I think he did, with an individual opt-out that is largely unowrkable. Supplementary jurisdiction is where the people, having been to a community court, would have to go to a State court that decides whether there truly is consent and where there are no main rights and liberties transgressed. I really do believe that after Lambeth 2008… Read more »
“The problem is, as William Temple said, “When people talk about conscientious objections to obeying the law, it is always quite impossible to distinguish between their prejudice and their conscience; there is no standard by which to determine” (Church and Nation: The Bishop Paddock Lectures for 1914-15)”
A startling quote — but was it his last word on the topic of conscientious objection? The right to conscientious objection is surely a basic human right, whatever the difficulty of administering it — notably in the case of World War I pacifists.
“Religious liberty still exists – but only in the private sphere”
+Rowan was argueing for *full* respect for religious conscience because Human beings are social beings. For robots it might be ok, but for human beings – freedom only in private is not freedom at all.
The problem is, as William Temple said, “When people talk about conscientious objections to obeying the law, it is always quite impossible to distinguish between their prejudice and their conscience; there is no standard by which to determine” (Church and Nation: The Bishop Paddock Lectures for 1914-15. London, Macmilland and Company, 1915. Page 174) No standard? Well, because people value moral goods differently, in one sense, that’s right. But finally, the good must trump the law. Leading a moral life is inseparable from the obligation to do the good once one sees it. And sometimes the good is illegal. American… Read more »
Pluralist – thank you for posting your interesting ideas. I think they are perceptive, and reveal the more disturbing elements behind the Synod speech: I had missed the way in which the Lambeth issues related to the defence of his RCJ lecture. The positive coverage of his speech yesterday seems to have been more a case of closing ranks to protect the Church than a serious analysis of what he was proposing. I’m struggling as an Anglican of liberal persuasion to have confidence in the ABC at the moment. Whatever the spin that is now being put on the RCJ… Read more »
Hugh of Lincoln wrote: “Despite all, Rowan William’s archiepiscopacy remains intact. It remains to be seen whether a weakened Canterbury will help the liberal cause.”
Intact or weakened?
Perhaps “in situ” (for the time being) would be more to the point?
Dave Wh wrote: “On the one side the profound historical commitment to religious liberty, on the other the commitment to fair treatment for same-sex couples. I think that +Rowan has seen that that current legislative approach is “winners and losers”. It is not aimed at reasonable *balance* nor mapping a road to maximum freedom for all!”
Now, this looks like a false dichotomy, Dave.
Moreover, there is no “Freedom for All” in the anti Modern position, only freedom for themselves and their late modern Social policies.
“The only people that stand to benefit from his agenda are the clerical bullies, which rather sums up the story of his whole archepiscopacy.” I value John Omani’s posts they have a certain considered authority, but I baulked when I read the above. Rowan’s deepest dislike is for the bully – who else would have come up with the idea of replacing the blasphemy law with a law against abusive and vulgar bullies! As I considered a response to your claim I could see quite clearly how you come to this conclusion, to be clear, and for my benefit, could… Read more »
“+Rowan was argueing for *full* respect for religious conscience because Human beings are social beings. For robots it might be ok, but for human beings – freedom only in private is not freedom at all. “ But David Wh – what happens when your religious freedom conflicts with mine? You would like to discriminate against me on religious grounds. I would like not to be discriminated against, also from deeply held religious principles. In a situation like this the state, which is after all there for both of us, has no choice but to restrict your instinct to consider your… Read more »
I agree with Mr Koch-Swahne — the secular law is the guarantor of religious freedom (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, art. 19) and of such civil freedom as are demanded by gays and lesbians. There is no dichotomy here but a profound concord.
The proponents of “Radical Orthodoxy” have a sort of Luddite attitude to secularity (even Aristotle is viewed as a heretic) and expecially to the modern secular state. It has been suggested that David Nicholls’ “Pluralistic State” is nearer to what the Archbishop is saying. See his lecture on Nicholls at http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/959
From the above-mentioned lecture: “David Nicholls wrote, eloquently and pungently, on ‘pluralist’ theories of the state, following through and elaborating the insights of J.N.Figgis and Harold Laski in particular among twentieth century theorists. Roughly speaking, this defines a state as a particular cluster of smaller political communities negotiating with each other under the umbrella of a system of arbitration recognised by all. These smaller communities may be of very diverse kinds – trade unions, ethnic and cultural groups, co-operative societies, professional guilds (universities, the BMA, the Bar Association) and, of course, churches and faith groups; what they have in common… Read more »
“”Religious liberty still exists – but only in the private sphere” +Rowan was argueing for *full* respect for religious conscience because Human beings are social beings. For robots it might be ok, but for human beings – freedom only in private is not freedom at all. “ So, if my religion says an adulterer should be stoned to death, that should be permitted under “religious liberty”? If my religion calls for polygamy or polyandry, you’d be OK with that, under “religious liberty”? Because, after all, we must have full respect for “religious conscience”. Or, is it just the “religious conscience”… Read more »
Tough, David. You have freedom to practice your religion, but not to expect special treatment above the law. if that offends your belief in the freedom to discriminate, then hard cheddar.
One law for all.
Pluralist — very fine piece — I’d be inclined to add the element of (racist?) post-colonial guilt (that excuses African former colonies, no matter what they have done in violation of human rights, common church regulations & basic decency) & the anti-Americanism which punishes the American church for doing what it believed was the right & Gospel driven thing to do (at the same time following the lead originally charted by a leading British theologian — Rowan Williams). Resignation after Lambeth — once I would have scoffed — now I would say that Liverpool is looking better & better, but… Read more »
[quote edited, slightly, for clarity] “what happens when your religious freedom conflicts with mine? You would like to discriminate against me on religious grounds. I would like not to be discriminated against, also from deeply held religious principles. In a situation like this the state, which is after all there for both of us, has no choice but to restrict your instinct (to consider your belief to be more important than mine) to the private.” Brilliant summation, Erika! I was of the view (from the Yank side of The Pond), that the ABC’s Sharia remarks were a tempest-in-a-teapot (particularly in… Read more »
Erika, Pat, Merseymike, I don’t think +Rowan was suggesting that he approved of Muslim religious laws. Nor do I think that he would suggest restricting other people’s rights to express their beliefs just because his is better than theirs (couched in rather more refined language!) – but that seems to be your attitude. It is not a question of whether there is one law for all, but whether that law is formulated in a way that takes into account the rights of the people. Rights are there, primarily, to restrain *Government* from making oppressive laws. The right of each of… Read more »
David wh this sounds lovely in the abstract but is very difficult in reality. How do you define that “real harm” is? I believe that the consevo anti gay stance causes real and unmeasurable harm to LGBT people. You believe, I remember from previous conversations here, that it simply reflects what God wants from us and is therefore something where LGBTs have to battle their sinful nature. Of course, the church can opt for one stance or the other, although even here there is very real harm done to LGBTs, and it is up to me and the rest of… Read more »
“Ibviously no Right is absolute (even Life in self defense or time of war). “ I find this, especially the second premise, to be an absolutely astounding thing for a Christian to say. Do you honestly believe there is a time when you are allowed to take the life God gave to someone else just because the government says you can? “we have no choice but to trust the democratic process” Erika, I agree, democracy is the worst option except for all the others, but governments get elected for any number of reasons, depending on the mood of the populace… Read more »
No, David. You assume I agree with your ideas about negative liberty. As a believer in positive liberty I think the State can be an enabler, not a depriver of liberty and rights. There can only be one law, and the decision is simply whether that law should allow discrimination. Whether it happens to be religion advocating discrimination or not is not the issue. Discrimination does cause real harm. You have space to discriminate within the private sphere of religion, but not the right to impose that on people outside. Otherwise that would mean a separate law for you. Which… Read more »
Let us also not forget that the “right to defend ourselves” has led to others taking the right to deprive others of their lives, homes or livelihoods. It has led souls to censor those that would threaten their world order, to deprive souls of a public voice or the ability to teach, in either the public or private sphere. For example, we’ve had some gems of discussions on TA about the feminine aspects of God and that God is more than a human masculine form. We all agreed that there were no attempts to commit patricide. We are in disagreement… Read more »
Erika – I’d rather avoid the LGBT thing as it’s too contentios to have a reasonable debate. Maybe the Islam thing is a better area to use as an example.. We have to avoid creating a world in which we all just fight to impose by legal force our beliefs and morals on other people in this life (something that +Rowan seems to be assuming is the right approach – and which God doesn’t do!). To achieve that we have to be robust and mature enought to accept people saying, believing and doing things that we find “wrong”: immoral, offensive,… Read more »
Ford Elms said in reply to David: “Ibviously no Right is absolute (even Life in self defense or time of war). “ I find this, especially the second premise, to be an absolutely astounding thing for a Christian to say. Do you honestly believe there is a time when you are allowed to take the life God gave to someone else just because the government says you can? Ford, I remember you saying something to the effect that a lot of things have been countenanced by well-meaning Christians in the “war on terror.” And I don’t even have to mention… Read more »
David Wh Thank you for your reply. But you remain at the level of lofty words and generalisations we can all agree with. I note you deliberately avoid the LGBT issue because it is too contentious. On the day the Bishop of Carlisle put is feet in it again I can understand your sentiments. But the real problem is that BECAUSE it is contentious, this issue is arousing so much passions and has become the core of the debate around religious freedom and the Government’s right to restrict it where it amounts to discrimination. It is disingenious to avoid the… Read more »
“We have to avoid creating a world in which we all just fight to impose by legal force our beliefs and morals on other people in this life” And who is doing this? Who is trying to force a convenant on the rest of us? Who is falsely claiming TEC is forcing them to accept something when TEC has never tried to induce any other Chruch to do anything or than allow TEC to do what She thinks God is leading Her to do? Who is demanding everybody else bow to their will or they will split the Communion? “What… Read more »
“We have to avoid creating a world in which we all just fight to impose by legal force our beliefs and morals on other people in this life.” The very work of government is to “impose by legal force [broadly agreed] beliefs and morals on other people. Personally, I’m quite thankful that assorted governments over the years have “imposed by legal force” restrictions against murder, child sexual abuse and overt acts of racial discrimination. And I’m very glad that the Greatest Canadian “imposed by legal force” a medical insurance plan in Saskatchewan to ensure that all citizens had access to… Read more »
I think that +Rowan partly picked on the Sharia issue to open up discussion on legislating in a way that allows some degree of flexibility to people whose beliefs are not the same as the majority, precisely because it is an area where there is a bit more chance of a reasonable discussion of how to deal with *competing* rights.
On the gay rights issue; as no-one has made any positive contributions about +Carlisle’s speech yet, I’ll post on that issue on that thread.. But I expect no understanding. 🙁
Ford, I think it is +Rowan and the Anglican elite who want a Covenant, as a way to keep TEC in.
The Conservatives just wanted TEC booted out.
TEC had, after all, deliberately and defiantly broken the rules after appeals and warning. +Rowan *could* have just stopped inviting them to anything there and then. Instead Lambeth has been de-rated and a new ‘rule book’ is being created. You should be gleeful!
Malcolm+ I think you just said the same as me, but in different words! 🙂
Jesus broke the rules, big time. He affirmed that it was faith and not legalism that led to salvation.
Jesus scandalised the preachers of his time, if Jesus was to erupt at this point in humanity’s history, Jesus would be no less scandalous.
The only difference is that it would no longer be “establishment” Jews who would be disgraced, but also their Christian and Islamic descendants.