Thursday, February 07, 2008

Canterbury tales

The Archibishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams thinks the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK "seems unavoidable". He said 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 parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion. The BBC article said "Dr Williams noted that Orthodox Jewish courts already operated, and that the law accommodated the anti-abortion views of some Christians."

Williams' analogy is fundamentally false. Jews, Christians -- indeed Jains, Buddhists, Muslims and atheists -- can work for any change in British law they please. That is because only British law reigns supreme in Britain. But that is fundamentally different from advocating that British law share authority, however "constructively", with a rival and alternative legal system, like sharia law. The Anglicans, for example, can adopt any practice they freely choose. But that is fundamentally different from accepting that their religious authority is shared, for example, with the Church of the Latter Day Saints. Surely there is a difference, if Williams chooses to see it.


Blogger Fred said...

Rowan Williams does not know what he is talking about, because it is obvious from all of his prior actions and statements that he is an ignorant dhimmi with no substantial background in Sharia Law, Qur'an, and ahadith.

It is my hope that Parliament and the British public reject his ideas of integrating some of Sharia Law into British Law. The nature of the threat to The Realm and all of the West posed by Islam is menacing and total. Once you let the genie out of the bottle, all of it comes out and demands your submission or death.

I am sure I sound flip and disrespectful towards Rev. Williams. I actually am in complete contempt of him. He's an intellectual pygmy and exhibits all of the intellectual sloth that we've come to expect from the elites here in the West.

Allowing Sharia Law for marriage disputes is not very tolerant or liberal of him. It would allow the continuation of the violence and misogyny that prevails in Islamic societies, which are indeed at variance with the "progressive" elites which Rev. Williams is certainly a member of.

Allowing something as totalitarian, ruthless, and primitive as Islamic law is inside of our legal codes is intolerable and an assault on our societies.

2/07/2008 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Sharia "seems unavoidable". Hmmm. Maybe in Britain.

I've been called a reactionary in my political intercourse, but I really don't think I am in most cases. I try to think things through carefully before taking a position, and then I never set a position in stone, in case my position turns out to be wrong on further evidence.

Unless I see some further evidence to counter the reams and reams of evidence I've seen to date, life will end before Sharia law governs it. On that point, I am a complete, total and unapologetic reactionary. Anybody who tries to convince me otherwise will automatically become my adversary, and I will never trust them again.

2/07/2008 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Fred: I actually am in complete contempt of him. He's an intellectual pygmy and exhibits all of the intellectual sloth that we've come to expect from the elites here in the West.

No other words spring to mind more readily than those of King Henry II:

Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?

Rowan Williams is a portrait of voluntary dhimmitude who represents nothing less than a direct threat to England and the free world.

Dan: ... my life will end before Sharia law governs it. On that point, I am a complete, total and unapologetic reactionary. Anybody who tries to convince me otherwise will automatically become my adversary, and I will never trust them again.

Bravo, author! My sentiments exactly.

2/07/2008 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger Wm_Edwin said...

On the confusion of local Jewish religious courts [the "Beth Din"] with national British law - I can't say it better than the BBC itself:

"The service provided by the Beth Din is best described as binding civil arbitration, and they do not seek to replace the state's civil courts."

Williams may as well have invoked the hunting strategy of komodo dragons as a reason to dilute the rule of law with sharia observances; it is as relevant, and as fascinating to watch... assuming the beast has not bitten YOU.

2/07/2008 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

The leadership of the Anglican Church, the Church of England since its split from the Roman Catholic Church under Henry VIII, in the last century has become a social club for Marxists and Atheists.

It is insane, but the Archbishops are essentially selected by the Prime Minister (head of the Civil Government) from a short list forwarded from a "Crown Nominating Committee." The Prime Minister may, if dissatisfied with the individuals advanced by the committee, ask for further choices, or name an individual of his choice. The PM's choice is then made known to the Sovereign, and that worthy in turn gives the name to the College of Deacons of the Diocese to make the formal "election" after due consideration, prayer, and contemplation. Remarkably, after searching their consciences and praying to God, they invariably find the will of the Almighty coincides with the name sent to them by their Sovereign.

There are enough Bishops and other high-ranking clergy in the church of England whose personal views on spiritual matters are so close to Atheism that the term "modernist" has been applied to them to avoid controversy.

The Church administration has come to be dominated by the same sort of aristocratic secular bureaucrats as those entrenched in the British Civil Service. And as Christian faith and principles have atrophied, Marxist/socialist Activism has emerged as a primary imperative guiding the public conversation of the Church.

It is almost laughably ironic that the same delusional doctrinaire Leftwardness that has been allowed to fester in the Church of England now is manifest in the insane statements of its Archbishop, the Most Reverend and Right Honorable Doctor Rowan Williams. Historically, he has blasted U.S. foreign policy, accused the U.S. of vile and base reasons for its actions in Iraq and the Middle East generally. While he is unusual in affirming that he believes in the resurrection and the divinity of Jesus Christ, he consistently aligns himself with Leftist Loonies and their anti-U.S. protests and petitions, and refrains from any substantial criticism of the manifold brutalities, atrocities, and violence that seem integral to Islam.

2/07/2008 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger John Foster said...

Williams' statement that "some" of the UK's citizens do not "relate" to English law is plainly true; that's the problem.

The difficulty (and whether the fuzziness is from the BBC, Williams, or both) is how far he intends to go in accommodation. By contract parties can already agree to resolve civil disputes by religious bodies applying religious law. That's what a Beth Din is, and it's just a variation of arbitration law.

The key point here, of course, is consent. It's a matter of contract, and both sides have to agree. One can easily imagine coercive situations in which the "consent" is manufactured. That has apparently happened in various divorce matters with a Beth Din, i.e., the wife gets screwed.

Whether Williams was referring to the application of sharia law in a criminal setting, i.e., involving the authority of the state, is not clear from the article. That sort of situation is plainly unacceptable, at least for most people.

2/07/2008 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Nomenklatura said...

It's not easy for an American to grasp the absurdity of these remarks by Rowan Williams without knowing more about his position in British society, because there is and can be no US equivalent.

The Church of England is a state-subsidised, moribund entity. The reality is that the churches Williams presides over all over the country are virtually empty every Sunday, and the average age of the people who do attend, clergy and parishioners alike, is well up into the 60's. Other than purely social functions, the Church of England has almost no connection with the lives of people in Britain under 60.

Further, politicians and other public figures in Britain routinely find they either have to express a casual contempt for religion or else apologize for their religious convictions. Even when public figures have religious convictions they are willing to talk about publicly, these usually turn out not to involve the Church of England (e.g. Tony Blair's catholicism).

Consequently hearing from Rowan Williams on any subject is rather like, in the US, hearing an opinion expressed by someone like the head functionary in charge of rural post offices.

(One similarity with the US, unfortunately, is that the only way the old guy can get any coverage in the press at all is by conforming exactly to the politically correct line favored by left-leaning journalists, as in this case.)

Both Williams and his aged constituency have but one goal, which is to try to keep things calm during the few years they personally have left. His comments are heard and understood in this context in the UK, which is why they are not more controversial. Nobody gives damn what he thinks.

2/07/2008 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...


That's sad to hear. I know Third World Anglicans who take their religion seriously. One old acquaintance was killed during the bad old anti-Marcos days. He didn't think his beliefs should be adjusted to taste.

One reason I find it hard to emotionally accept that life is meaningless is because it seems wrong to think that Rowan Williams is right.

2/07/2008 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Wm_Edwin said...

zenster invoked -

"Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?"

I'm not sure. I had a look at this topic's
feedback thread at the BBC
and was heartened to see the absolutely universal revulsion at the notion of denigrating British national law with sharia custom.

The whole topic is now on the table, and because it is so outrageous, it doesn't venture into the cultural minefield that philosophies of consolation - like what liberalism has become - have erected around our crumbling institutions.

Game's not over, though. The lumps Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali took for going on the record about "Muslim no-go areas" in Britain show that positive declarations for the traditions of the West are still automatically suspect.

Nomenklatura -
Thanks for the clarification. Its anecdotal, but I can relate: the confirmed-liberal Unitarian congregation I hung out with for a little while was positively ancient.

2/07/2008 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Nomenklatura said...


There's no point being upset about the collapse of the Church of England. It's been over for a long time, certainly since the 1960's. Once the average age got above a certain trigger point, all concern about a leaving behind a vibrant future just evaporated.

Think of it as a retirement home, because that's basically what it is. We don't usually concern ourselves with whatever shifts of opinion may be occurring inside retirement homes. We have more important things to worry about, and there are no answers to be found there.

More of a concern is the fast approaching day when we will find ourselves saying essentially the same thing about the whole of European society. In my opinion that day is closer than people realize.

I recall Arnold Schwarzenegger's explanation for why he left Austria to come to the US (being surrounded by young contemporaries who already thought about nothing more exciting than their pensions). Now imagine an increasingly aged continent, even more focused on just that one goal and that one time-horizon. That's where Europe is headed.

The message of the Church of England, if it has one today, is that even after it became clear to even casual observers what was happening (e.g. more tourists in churches than worshippers), the entire institution chose to carry on sleepwalking right over the cliff edge.

2/07/2008 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

One has to wonder what the archbishop’s response would be if Pope Raztenburger announced “Williams, ve are taking over! And ve have vays of making you accept our dogma!”

If you are going to surrender, at least do it to another Christian.

2/07/2008 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger HotAire said...

Why stop with Muslims? Why not legal systems for Hindus , or devotees of Cao Dai? Sadly, I think the answer has to do with th fact that no bombs are likely to be planted in London in the names of these faiths in the near future.

2/07/2008 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

I think the best and most reasonable thing to do would be to refer Rowan Williams to Coughlin's thesis. As Coughlin points out, sharia is not whatever you think it is, but a definite body of jurisprudence.

Islamic law is a real body of law with actual presence in the legal systems of the Muslim Middle East and, as such, has actual presence in the decisionmaking of those governments that are accountable to it. This is true as a constitutional matter of law. It is also true even if that influence remains in varying stages of latency within those countries.

Recognizing sharia as a system admits a whole body of jurisprudence whose role cannot help but expand. If sharia only aspired to apply to civil cases why not use existing contract law? There are two cases which come to mind with. One is the ongoing dispute in Afghanistan over when a person is a minor, which affects when you can marry, work, be punished etc. Afghanistan has two laws, secular law and sharia law. The standard legal definitions of when a person is an adult vary between the two. Another example was the case raised to the Malaysian supreme court by a woman who wanted to change her religion away from being a Muslim. The court decided she could not change her religion because they recognized sharia law in such matters and therefore she had to carry a Muslim identity card and could not change it.

Williams should realize that acknowledging the authority of sharia law, even over only "civil" matters is not a matter of allowing people to wear funny hats or celebrate festivities on certain days; this law triumphed over empires even before the CoE existed.

2/07/2008 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Nomenklatura: Both Williams and his aged constituency have but one goal, which is to try to keep things calm during the few years they personally have left. His comments are heard and understood in this context in the UK, which is why they are not more controversial. Nobody gives damn what he thinks.

The foregoing reeks of enfeebled church leadership calmly feeding the crocodile so as to prevent it from rampaging along the beach and spoiling what little fun is left for those basking in their golden years.

Nevermind the ravenous beast that will be left behind to savage those less inclined at appeasing this remorseless predator. Disregard how the well fed croc will have spawned many more of its kind to ravage those left with this monster on their hands.

This makes little sense in light of how these elder Britons carry the strongest memory of their country's finest hour during the Blitz. It defies reason to think that their island nation will be so readily abandoned when once they persisted with such vigor.

Rowan Williams' stance smacks of how the BBC pretends to portray British sentiment in the midst of its similarly treasonous filth. While the lessons of World War II may well be utterly lost upon younger generations it seems impossible that older Britons would have forgotten such hard-learned lessons as those taught by the Nazis.

One thing is quite clear: Rowan Williams has outlived his usefulness to Britons, young and old alike.

2/07/2008 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/07/2008 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Wm_Edwin said...

I am moved to remark that we cannot expect an effective defense of our laws to come from people who have no principle worth risking their lives for, other than the principle of immediate survival.

It is too easy to give away one's lunch money, if you believe that that's the only thing being demanded by the bully.

If there is no principle or purpose to the West, and nothing to believe in it, other than it's "benefits," than - who's to say its wrong to trade those benefits - for survival itself? After all, the bully comes from a poor family...

We're clearly contending with an intolerant minority who thinks nothing of sacrificing their lives for their vision of eternity. But it is also said that Islam, in its golden age, preserved the West's classical wisdom when Europe was too troubled to do it.

Maybe this will happen again, for the wisdom that eternity is worth risking one's life for.

I have to say, this is making me re-think the strength of my convictions.

2/07/2008 07:20:00 PM  
Blogger El Baboso said...

The US Evangelicals and Pentecostals have been doing a lot of missionary work in Europe. Perhaps it will take hold. During my last trip to the UK, the most heartening thing that I saw was a mother with a large cross around here neck and four children in tow.

2/07/2008 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger Storm-Rider said...

Sharia Law is totalitarian in its religious supremacism, its bigotry against women and non-Muslims, and in its opposition to the divine equality of all people.

Totalitarian Sharia suppresses free speech by claiming the right to murder anyone who, in their eyes, dishonors their religion. Sharia law, through violence if necessary, disposes of anything resembling freedom of religion.

Sharia law sanctions the teaching of suicide/murder to children, and it sanctions the sexual mutilation of their little girls.

Sharia law sanctions rape. A woman is likely to be found guilty of adultery if she reports being raped, and the penalty for adultery for a woman is death.

Allowing Sharia Law into a non-Muslim society is tantamount to allowing Nazi law into a society.

Sharia law is the enemy of justice and liberty, and therefore Sharia law is the enemy of the United States of America.

2/07/2008 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger Patm said...

Didn't Tony Blair appoint Williams?

Bad choice, Tony.

2/07/2008 07:53:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Roman Catholicism has eclipsed Anglican Church in the UK. It is easy to see why, now.

I assume most Anglicans who still are Christian will become Catholic.

Second, this is "great news" for the BNP. The BNP argues, well we might be anti-Semitic racists, but who ELSE will protect you from being under Sharia?

And the deafening silence to the question is the answer itself.

That is the choice for Europe, or at least much of it. England will get it's new Cromwell. Italy might avoid it, perhaps France and some other areas.

Preemptive surrender by Williams? Yes par for the course but also likely to lead to a reaction. Imagine yourself a military man, years of honorable service to your Crown and Nation. Every tradition thrown on the garbage heap, your own service dishonored, and an event comes to you at a time where two roads lay open: the one you've always taken before that leads to being tossed aside and living under the rule of alien minority who abuse and oppress you. Or "your rightful place" as the "protector of the nation" who restores honor and tradition to it's rightful place. Along with of course a lot of money, power, and all that goes with that.

Cromwells and Napoleons are made, not born.

Williams seems intent on being the midwife to the making.

2/07/2008 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

From the JPOST comment section:

Another example of religious ecumenicism, encroaching on secular law and pandering to the ignorant. We did not forge through the age of enlightenment only to return to the dark ages. Leo - Israel (02/08/2008 02:20)

2/07/2008 09:38:00 PM  
Blogger PharmaGuy said...

hmm Did Jack the Ripper "relate to the British legal system?"

2/07/2008 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger LarryD said...

"If you are going to surrender, at least do it to another Christian."

Ah, but Rowan Williams isn't a Christian.

And he's not the only secularist who would rather the Islamic radicals win than see Christianity win.

"I assume most Anglicans who still are Christian will become Catholic."

This is the reason for the schism in the Anglican Church, as Wretchard notes, there are plenty of Anglicans outside of the UK who are still Christians.

2/08/2008 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Rowan Williams is a cultural suicider.

Tony Blair has converted to Roman Catholicism.

2/08/2008 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2/09/2008 12:01:00 AM  

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