UK Politics

Sack Rowan Williams, Disestablish the Church

Rowan Williams hath spoken:

But Dr Williams says the argument that “there’s one law for everybody… I think that’s a bit of a danger”.

“There’s a place for finding what would be a constructive accommodation with some aspects of Muslim law, as we already do with some other aspects of religious law.”

Dr Williams adds: “What we don’t want either, is I think, a stand-off, where the law squares up to people’s religious consciences.”

“We don’t either want a situation where, because there’s no way of legally monitoring what communities do… people do what they like in private in such a way that that becomes another way of intensifying oppression inside a community.”


Sack him.

Dis-establish his Church.

Ban Bishops (and, for that matter, Chief Rabbis) from the House of Lords.

Isn’t there something particularly pathetic about a Bishop in a church which – in theory – exists to evangelise, shilling on behalf of the theocratic politics of another religion, which wishes to write their version of “god’s will” into law?

Secularists, of all faiths and of none, should push back hard against any clerical attempt to legislate what they take to be divinely ordained law.

Clerics should appreciate the proper limits of their authority. They should do their best to discourage sectarianism and violence between their followers and those of other religions. They should do their best to win converts from other religions, if they truely believe that they represent the only path to salvation.

But, most of all, they should keep their foolish bearded faces out of the business of lawmaking.


Danny Finkelstein on Comment Central writes:

Well, first of all this adoption is not unavoidable in the literal sense – we can avoid it by not doing it.

What makes this country a liberal, peaceable democracy is that we all live under the same laws, we are equal citizens before the law.

Full transcript of the programme here

I think that people are entitled to choose to resolve purely commercial disputes according to some form of binding arbitration, in accordance with the Arbitration Act.

Now, I’m not massively keen on the state creating a system of private law which operates in effect only within a community which is ghettoised. There’s the danger that the use of religious law becomes, in effect, one of the methods by which people are pillarised and excluded from the mainstream of society. The concern is greater if the religious law is unfair or improper. But from what little I know about commercial sharia, it doesn’t seem too bad.

But when it comes to – for example – family law, religious law should have absolutely no status in the law of the land: neither a conditional nor a consensual one. The law does not let you ‘contract out’ of basic health and safety obligations. The law does not enforce immoral contracts. The law should not enforce a religious family law.

This is what the ABC said:

CL So for example one of the examples you give where Sharia might be applied is in relation to marriage; what would that look like; what would that mean for example a British Muslim woman suddenly given the choice to settle a dispute via a Sharia route as opposed to the existing British legal system?

ABC It’s very important hat you mention there the word ‘choice’; I think it would be quite wrong to say that we could ever licence so to speak a system of law for some community which gave people no right of appeal, no way of exercising the rights that are guaranteed to them as citizens in general, so that a woman in such circumstances would have to know that she was not signing away for good and all; now this is a matter of detail that I don’t know enough about the detail of the law in the Islamic law in this context; I’m simply saying that there are ways of looking at marital dispute for example within discussions that go on among some contemporary scholars which provide an alternative to the divorce courts as we understand them. In some cultural and religious settings they would seem more appropriate.

He couldn’t be more wrong if he tried.