Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Abp Williams on Sharia in the UK

There's been quite a bit of coverage of Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams' comment to the BBC that it is "unavoidable" that the UK eventually have some of its citizens living under Sharia law. (More from the Telegraph here.)

No one really seems positive on these remarks, so giving them an additional smack-down hardly seems necessary. I'll keep my comments short:

What strikes me as interesting about his comments is that they are rooted in an idea that the law must be all encompassing. Do adherants to Islam have different mores in regards to divorce and earning interest than the rest of Britains? Well then, clearly they must have their own courts and law system to enforce those mores.

This strikes me as a flawed conception of the relationship between social and religions mores and the strong arm of the law.

KiwiNomad provided a link in the comments to the full text of Williams' speech here. I'm curious to read the rest of it (though it will take a little time) but to clarify: My issue is with the idea of giving Sharia courts legal force in the UK. In the US, there are Catholic canon law courts which settle issues such as annulments and also issues regarding religious rights/duties and church property. However, these courts do not have the force of civil law, even over Catholics. (There are some people who want them to, but I tend to think that's a bad idea.)

I have no problem with sharia panels issuing voluntary rulings on issues for those Muslims who choose to follow them. However (in part informed by my own belief that Islam is false) I don't really like the idea of Islamic British citizens actually being legally bound by those decisions, and the civil authorities enforcing them.

Lest anyone fear, Williams specifically says he is not suggesting that the extreme punishments that Sharia courts in some countries are known for handing down be allowed in Brittain. He envisions, from what I've read so far, certain contractual and family areas of law only falling under the authority of Sharia courts. Not entirely unlike, I suppose, the split we see evident in the Gospels where the Jewish courts are allowed to make certain rulings, but Roman Law must be invoked to impose certain penalties.


Kiwi Nomad 2008 said...

Actually I found the full text of his speech online, and hope to get around to reading it properly later. It seems to be a thoughtful speech.
In some ways, it seems that maybe the media have seized on something out of context, as they did with the 'infamous' Pope's speech.

bearing said...

Still, though, it just seems so obvious that the rejoinder to this idea is

"I suppose you're also in favor of giving the Catholic marriage tribunal the power to decide whether each divorced Catholic is allowed to remarry."

Darwin said...

Well, and see, I'm not in favor of giving Catholic marriage tribunals legal force either. It just strikes me as an all-around bad set of ideas.

I think Williams would understand this when applied to Christianity, but he seems to think that Islam needs to be treated differently.

Donald R. McClarey said...

Williams is a perfect representative of the death wish that has seized many European, and some American, elites. Rather than encouraging assimilation of immigrants from muslim nations, they seem to wish to encourage immigrants to maintain a separist attitude from the culture in which they are living. Additionally Williams has made comments that indicate that in his view the US may be a greater threat than the jihadists.

Useful idiot is the phrase that I am sure comes to mind of the better educated jihadists as they read his musings.

Kyle R. Cupp said...

"Well, and see, I'm not in favor of giving Catholic marriage tribunals legal force either. It just strikes me as an all-around bad set of ideas."

I agree. Big can of worms there.