Archbishop of Canterbury’s Endorsement of Islamic Law an Unprecedented Appeasement

February 17, 2008

“Allowing Sharia law in Britain is an act of tolerance for something that practices none of its own.” – IRD Religious Liberty Program Director, Faith J.H. McDonnell
WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 /Christian Newswire/ — On February 7, Archbishop of Canterbury endorsed the concept of permitting Islamic (Sharia) law in civil disputes in the United Kingdom. Rowan Williams’ comments to the BCC have drawn fire from many sources, including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who pointed out that British law should be based on British values.

The Institute on Religion & Democracy expressed dismay over Williams’ comments and criticized the idea of elevating a legal system that does not share British values.

Ralph Webb, Director of IRD’s Anglican Action Program, commented:

“Only a few months ago, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams angered people on both the left and the right with his harsh, sweeping attack on American foreign policy. Now he has angered people by proposing that there should be some way of accommodating elements of Sharia law in British society.

“At a time when the Anglican Communion is in danger of fragmenting, Williams’ comments are not helpful and run the risk of alienating some Anglicans who live under Sharia law.

Faith J.H. McDonnell, IRD Religious Liberty Program Director, commented:

“Allowing Sharia law in Britain is an act of tolerance for something that practices none of its own. We’re concerned for British Muslims that have fled the intolerance of their own countries, only to find it gaining a foothold in Britain.

“Those who argue that accommodating Sharia law would be contingent upon the agreement of both parties in a dispute don’t understand that there is no individual choice in Sharia law, especially for women.

“Archbishop Williams is going in exactly the wrong direction with his comments supporting Sharia law. He should be supporting Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali who has warned against the encroachment of Islamic fundamentalism in Britain, not attempting to buy off Muslim groups with appeasements.”

The Institute on Religion and Democracy, founded in 1981, is an ecumenical alliance of U.S. Christians working to reform their churches’ social witness, in accord with biblical and historic Christian teachings, thereby contributing to the renewal of democratic society at home and abroad.


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