Church of England Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is in the news again. He's being criticized by the Bishop of Oxford.
The Bishop of Oxford has rejected another senior clergyman's fears that broadcasting the Muslim call to prayer in East Oxford could create a "no-go area" for non-Muslims. The Rt Rev John Pritchard backed plans for the call to prayer in Oxford - splitting away from controversial comments made by the Anglican Church's only Asian Bishop, the Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, of Rochester. ...
He said: "I believe we have good relationships with the Muslim community here in Oxford and I am personally very happy for the mosque to call the faithful to prayer in East Oxford. ... Bishop John said practical issues over the number of times the call went out, the volume and whether a trial period would be required would need to be ironed out but said in principle it was "entirely reasonable".
He said: "I would say to anyone who has concerns about the call to prayer to relax and enjoy our community diversity and be as respectful to others as you would hope they would be respectful to you." He added: "I sympathise with those who find any kind of expression of public faith intrusive, but I think part of being part of a tolerant society is saying, 'I don't agree with this but I accept it as part of my responsibility as being part of a diverse community'."
Why not? After all, church bells can peal. Yet maybe it's not that simple. Maybe Bishop John should issue his endorsement for the Islamic call to prayer in Oxford from the pulpit of the largest church in Saudi Arabia, where a million Filipinos, largely Roman Catholic work. That's four percent of the total population of the Kingdom. Muslims only make up three percent of the British population. (BTW, on what street is the largest church in Saudi Arabia?) There are issues of national culture as well as religion in most of these debates. How these issues evolve will be interesting to watch.