Thinking Anglicans

Archbishop: Human Rights and Religious Faith

The Archbishop of Canterbury delivered a lecture yesterday at the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Centre in Geneva.

WCC news announcement.

The full text of the lecture is here.

The Lambeth Palace press release is also accompanied by the full text of the lecture (scroll down).

This has led to a number of media reports:

ENI via ACNS Archbishop of Canterbury links human rights to faith

Reuters Archbishop of Canterbury steps into U.N. gays row

Daily Mail Why it would be wrong to legalise gay marriage, by the Archbishop of Canterbury

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Craig Nelson
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Craig Nelson

Admirable stuff. The Archbishop is arguing for negative rights as opposed to positive ‘entitlement’ rights which can drive a culture before it is ready to change. I broadly agree with that. Where I disagree is in the tendency to make everything about human rights and to deny the ‘political’. Hence in the B&B case people talk about it as a human rights case which it largely isn’t (i.e. as a case of competing human rights which is where we get the obsession with trumping). The ‘political’ is the barrometer by which one can measure whether a culture is changing or… Read more »

Counterlight
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Counterlight

Bishops speak with forked tongues.

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

Rowan Williams is saying the opposite of what he proclaimed for years.

I personally heard him say the very opposite– that is, be very supportive of gay couples in a talk he gave to gay ministers of the Church of England at the Royal Foundation of St Katherine.

I challenge him to explain himself to us all – we have a right to know why he has chopped and changed, don’t we ?

Or let him denounce me and what I have said.

I have about a hundred witnesses !

Pluralist
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dr.primrose
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dr.primrose

“If it is said, for example, that a failure to legalise … same-sex marriage … perpetuates stigma or marginalisation for some people, the reply must be, I believe, that issues like stigma and marginalisation have to be addressed at the level of culture rather than law, the gradual evolving of fresh attitudes in a spirit of what has been called ‘strategic patience’ by some legal thinkers.” From an American legal point of view, this statement is pure, unadulterated rubbish. In the late 1960s, the U.S. Supreme Court found the bar on marriages between members of different races to be unconsitutional… Read more »

jnwall
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jnwall

Well, now. The ABC says, on the one hand, “The existence of laws discriminating against sexual minorities as such can have no justification in societies that are serious about law itself.” The ABC says, on the other hand, “The law has no right to legalise same-sex marriage.” The ABC speaks with forked tongue. Either laws prohibiting marriage between loving, committed same-sex couples “have no justification in societies that are serious about law itself,” or they do. I gather that the ABC thinks England is not serious about law. And he supports that, so long as the act of blatant hypocrisy… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

From the Daily Mail article: “Dr Williams’s statement means the Prime Minister now knows he will face opposition from the liberal-minded leadership of the Church of England – as well as its determined traditionalists” Ain’t it grand when conservatives and liberals can come together in unity and fellowship? At the UN, we’ve also seen heart-warming moments of traditionalist Christians, fundamentalist Muslims, and orthodox Jews having marshmallow-toasting-by-the-campfire-singing-Kumbaya moments. It would make one think there was hope for humanity … Except the unifying moments come at the expense of GLBT folks. Or women. But, that’s a minor detail, right? Tom Lehrer, writer… Read more »

karen macqueen+
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For a few years now, I have been working on the understanding that +Rowan Williams is or has become homophobic in his actions and his failures to act. We are all too familiar with +RW’s very poor leadership which has had the effect of throwing the equality of LGBT persons in the Church and in civil society, along with our very lives and safety, “under the bus” in a vain and feckless attempt to “hold together” the Anglican Communion and move it towards being recognized as an international Church. Today, the weakness and prevarication of +RW’s leadership has passed a… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

The ABC is quite right in much of what he says about the importance of human rights. Paradoxically, he is the main proponent of the so called Anglican Covenant which would give constitutional legitimacy to a bias against full inclusion of GLBT persons in The Communion.

Reminds one of a previous Pope (John Paul) who voiced support for human rights,while engaging in special pleading for his denomination on “theological grounds”.

One wonders if anyone is listening when leaders of religious institutions lecture others about human rights while eloquently excusing them in their own venue.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

With Archbishop Rowan ‘Stepping into’ the UN row about Gays; one wonders whether he is issuing an Invitation to a ‘Hoe-Down – with the Gay Gordons”. His lecture in Geneva to the WCC is another landmark sign of the ABC’s willingness to enter into the landscape of Human Rights in the light of Faith. This all sounds a bit more like the Rowan we once knew – boding well for his instinctive leadership on matters where recognition of Human Dignity is one of the hallmarks of religious identity. Let’s hope that Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda, and other GAFCON Churches take… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Having just praised Archbishop Rowan Williams for his speeches to the U.N. and the W.C.C. on Human Rights and Faith, I have since read another link on this thread re the Archbishop’s statement about Gay Marriage: “Dr Williams’s statement means the Prime Minister now knows he will face opposition from the liberal-minded leadership of the Church of England – as well as its determined traditionalists – if he continues on the track towards legalised gay marriage.” – article – I’m not so sure that the ABC’s statement here does actually represent the ‘liberal-minded’ leadership of the Church of England –… Read more »

John
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John

I didn’t like the RW speech at all. It seems to me that a church leader can argue like this within a church context but should not do so within the public sphere. There’s far too little acknowledgement of the vital importance of the separation of church and state. Sacks is far more principled on this, devoted as he is to the C of E as an established church. On the specific issue of ‘attitudes’ vs law, dr. primrose is absolutely right, and the same has been true in the UK. Since RW must know this, there is a serious… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

This speech is consistent with the one given about Sharia Law. It is that on a universal level, there is no case for discrimination in law, but that people live in cultures and religions (in particular) make claims for universal ethics, and feed these into culture. Therefore the actual making of equality depends upon culture, and of course by saying this he is reserving a right and place for religion but in a plural setting. Individuals are not to be trapped by religious authorities. It *is* enough to say that we all suffer pain, pleasure and have self-cosciousness, enjoy the… Read more »

Chris Smith
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Chris Smith

I believe Archbishop Williams has many fine qualities as a human being and yet he fails so dramatically when it comes to his support of a Covenant and the ridiculous and double sided statements on same-sex marriage. I believe he is much too afraid of the far right voices in the CofE. Very sad that he sends double messages because many of us find it difficult to respect his positions in light of what it does to the glbt community. He could be blamed for trying to disenfranchise the progressive voices in the CofE while bending over backwards to accommodate… Read more »

Mary Marriott
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Mary Marriott

The good archbishop reminds me somewhat of the Head master (sic)in the film P’tang, Yang, Kipperbang, who opines to a lad that he “doesnt believe in corporal punishment” as he canes him with vigour ! Whether it’s guile, loss of selfhood’s agency or whatever, I have no idea. Needs to go into analysis at the least. But meantime I have lost all interest in the sayings of Rowan Williams.(A condition reached by a painful, involuntary route, not of my choosing). I have found so many liberal Christians in positions of leadership have acted similarly over the years — i.e. supportive… Read more »

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

I do here disagree with negative reactions to this surely seminal speech/lecture. I don’t read it as an attack on marriage equality at all – if anything he lays out the philosophical foundations for it (he may or may not be aware of this). His elucidation of an opposition to criminalisation and discrimination are very forthright and equally helpful. I admit that the prose is “dense”. You have to read this over several times to penetrate the text, and having done so I have points of quibble and critique – I think the speech calls for dialogue, engagement and critique.… Read more »

Steve Lusk
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Steve Lusk

Of course, if you never used laws to “force unwanted change on the rest of the nation,” Africans would still be slaves, Roman Catholics could neither vote nor hold office, Manchester would have no representation in Parliament, and you couldn’t marry your deceased wife’s sister.
On the other hand, you’d still be defending your loyal colonists here in America from the French, which would serve you right.

Randal Oulton
Guest
Randal Oulton

>> Dr Williams said in his speech that same-sex marriage law was wrong because it tried to impose cultural change.

LOL. And what is his opinion on the 16th laws that formed the Church of England by banning any other religious practice hah! too funny.

Gary Paul Gilbert
Guest
Gary Paul Gilbert

Mr. Williams fails the so-what test. Why should anyone care about the gap between civil law and religion? If the discourse of universal human rights is to be applied equally to all similar situations, then it ought not have any relation to any particular religion. He seems to want to have his cake and eat it too. This is the same person who wants to say he is a universalist but justifies sharia law. Let Parliament and not the C of E legislate on assisted suicide and civil marriage equality. “And so we face the worrying prospect of a gap… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Yes, Rowan seems to have tied TA commentators in knots! Time to go back to the text, and to the WCC context, I think. At this time The RC Church (still only collaborating with the WCC) and the Orthodox Community along with fundamentalist and evangelical churches throughout the world are fighting (successfully in many places – Hungary recently) to have gay marriage constitutionally outlawed. In Russia the Church is collaborating with regional governments to pass legislation (St Petersburg) that UK readers might understand as a thermo-nuclear version of Clause 28. In many places churches are at the forefront of a… Read more »

toby forward
Guest

‘A sophisticated rhetorician, inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity’

David Shepherd
Guest

The Archbishop is actually examining the tendency to confound individual liberty rights with claim rights upon others. http://wenar.info/Epistemic-LegalRightsFinal.pdf. He uses the word ‘recognition’ to define liberty rights by which the State protects expressions of individuality from the tyranny of unfair opposition: ‘From one point of view, therefore, human rights has to do with the individual person, establishing the status of the person as something independent of any society’ However, he contrasts these rights with claim rights: ‘The fundamental point is not so much that every person has a specific set of positive claims to be enforced’. His point about the… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest

Simon,

Not sure why my last post to this thread was not published. Perhaps, an overzealous SPAM filter.

ED: retrieved from Junk along with several earlier ones from you…