Storms in tea-cups

Posted on Mon 11 February 2008 by alex in misc

It seems that the Archbishop of Canterbury's lecture is still causing ructions in the news. Sadly it has lead to a great deal of hostile comment, most of which from people who have never read the text of lecture but see it as a chance to put the boot in and have a go at "savage primitive muslims". Having read the text I fail to see where all the hysteria is coming from. He makes a quite reasoned argument for consensual involvement in religiously based arbitration within the bounds of existing British law. The reference to adoption of Islamic law being "unavoidable" is about the most selective sensationalist quoting I have seen by the media in a long time.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm a secularist by nature. I believe in equality of treatment under the law. I think the Church of England doesn't have any place being the official church of the state - we have no need for one. At the same time I'm happy for various members of the House of Lords to be from the major faiths. Even if I disagree with their beliefs I recognise they can contribute to the debate. I have strong issues with framing laws in statute that refer to certain religious doctrines. I have some misgivings that the religious hatred laws give religions too much cover against being questioned and satirised.

At the same time I recognise that accommodating people who wish to settle disputes through something other than our civil court system is reasonable and aids social cohesion. While we have to be beware that people don't feel pressurised to take a particular course of action by local culture or family these are things for more measured and sensible debate.