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Rowan Williams says Islam makes positive contribution to society, ‘secularist’ groups disagree


I’ve always liked the former Archbishop of Canterbury. He seems to represent the best of British society. Those eyebrows are fantastic as well!:

Rowan Williams says Islam makes positive contribution to society, ‘secularist’ groups disagree

Islam is restoring traditional British values such as shared responsibility and duty, a former archbishop has said.

Rowan Williams said that Muslims had brought back “open, honest and difficult public discussion” in one of their “greatest gifts” to Britain.

He used a speech yesterday to criticise sections of the press for portraying Muslims as “un-British” and complained of “illiteracy” about religion among figures in government.

Secularist groups accused Dr Williams of “foolishness”, but his remarks were welcomed by British Muslim organisations.

Keith Porteous Wood, the executive director of the National Secular Society, said: “I’m still smiling about the comments he made about Sharia law a few years ago. You’d think he’d have learnt his lesson.”

In 2008, when still Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Williams provoked controversy by stating that the application of some aspects of Islamic law in British courts was “unavoidable”. He also drew both praise and criticism after telling a literary festival in 2012 that the hijab gave some Muslim women strength.

Yesterday, Dr Williams, who stood down as the head of the Church of England to become master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, in 2012, told the Living Islam Festival in Lincolnshire that Christianity and Islam were shifting British values back towards the community.

He said that Britain was an “argumentative democracy” where “we are not just individual voters ticking boxes but individuals and communities engaging in open, honest and difficult public discussion. One of the greatest gifts of the Muslim community to the UK has been that they have brought that back to the people.”

Asked if he meant that Islam was rejuvenating British values, Dr Williams said: “Yes. I’m thinking of the way in which, for example, in Birmingham we have seen a local parish and a mosque combining together to provide family services and youth activities, both acting out of a very strong sense that this is what communities ought to do. ”

Earlier this year, David Cameron began a debate when he warned that a failure to be “muscular” in promoting British values had led to the rise of extremism.

Dr Williams appeared to offer a riposte yesterday. “It’s really important that we respect and try to understand diversity of conscience and belief and conviction in our environment,” he said. “These are not just about what makes us British, they’re about what makes us human.”

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, warned that the speech could undermine the UK’s social cohesion.

“Narratives that promote the view that religious belonging is necessary for social responsibility may be comforting to those for whom the promotion of religion is a profession, but in the UK they are totally unsupported by evidence,” he said.

Muslim groups praised Dr Williams’s intervention. Dilwar Hussain, chairman of the Muslim charity New Horizons, said: “That is a sentiment we would agree with, very much. We would also be concerned about any of those values being taken to extremes, whether it’s communitarianism or individualism.”

The Times, 2 August 201

See also “‘Muslim Glastonbury’ challenges perceptions of Islam in Britain”, Guardian, 1 August 2014

According to the Guardian report: “Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, one of a number of non-Muslim speakers, gave a talk entitled ‘What do British values look like and is there room for Muslims?’ He expressed his unease about focus on British values rather than values of human beings generally. ‘The setting-up therefore of British values against any kind of values, whether Muslim or Christian, just won’t do,’ he said.

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    • gingermavy .

      muslims are the scum of the earth. Kill them all.

    • Nur

      I will teach my grandchildren not to hold a father a hero by showing loyalty to anyone by killing an innocent person, especially his own child. I will teach them that such a person, in the modern civilized world we live in now is mentally ill, and needs help.

    • Did your grandchildren leave Islam as well?

    • Jekyll

      Your utterly insane and forget Islam, your projected anger at everybody is really your anger at God, but for some reason you still believe in him/her. Nice shot at Abraham(p), what else you got, come on, vomit all the soling out…

    • Nur

      Religion is a way to teach universal morality. Religion does not have universal morality exclusively. Conflating morals with religion is a way to justify a need for a god.

      As you can see, not having a universal moral foundation justifies their god respectably to shoot rockets into population areas and drop 2000 pound bombs on city blocks to destroy what their religion teaches them are demons.

      I was once a religious person. Then I look at my grandchildren and think how I could have been so stupid as to hold a man a hero who would kill his own son to show loyalty to some being you cant even comprehend. How foolish of me to be so damned stupid for so damned long.

      My non religious universal morality says that both expressions of religion are not beneficial to them, or to me.

    • Nur: I agree that morality exists outside religion, and that morality is also a part of religion. But religion is wider than just a moral code, it is about the way in which we relate to God (or the universe, or mother nature or the environment, however you want to put it), how we relate to one another as individuals, how we create communities, and how communities relate to each other. The majority of the founding Zionists were atheistic socialists. Zionism is a false, idolatrous religion that has replaced the worship of God by worship of the Jewish people, the Land of Israel, and the State of Israel. It is this false religion that has produced the pogrom in Gaza, not the monotheism of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

    • Nur

      I beg to differ. My statement isn’t about the individual. My statement is about where morals and ethics come from. Religion doesn’t ‘own’ any foundation of morality. Religion is a way of teaching morality. Look at the pogrom happening in Gaza now, and see what Israeli Jews are being taught about the worth of other people. I never learned those kinds of values.

    • 99% of religious activity (any major religion) consists of ordinary people going quietly about the business of loving God and loving their neighbour. You don’t know about it, because good news rarely hits the headlines. Suggestion: go along to your nearest (mainstream) church or synagogue or mosque or temple. I guarantee you will not hear anything about hating or destroying other people.


      And lo a former oil company exec replaced him :

  • HSkol

    Cool! Uh, e-friends are cool. Be as polite or abrasive as you must – trust me, you are not void of friends.

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