Choosing words

Feb 8th, 2008 | By | Category: Cross Channel

The neighbours for seven years were members of a tiny Christian group originally founded by a Church of Ireland clergyman called Cooney. Sometimes referred to as “Dippers” because of their practice of adult baptism, they lived lives separate from the world striving for the highest ethical standards. They allowed no newspapers, no radios, no television, such things brought the corruption of the world into their lives. Machinery and cars were allowed, but otherwise they lived in a parallel world as part of a small Christian community.

There were a few families in the area who were part of the group, each living on its own farm and meeting in one of the farmhouses Sunday by Sunday. They were the best neighbours one could have met, always eager to be helpful and to lend a hand. One of my colleagues, a strongly evangelical Anglican said they were strong on ethics and weak on grace. They sought to live out to the letter the commandments of the Gospel.

They were very private people, their dealings with the outside world mostly confined to the business of farming and they settled matters between themselves.

When the Archbishop of Canterbury made his comments yesterday, he was thinking in terms of self-regulating communities. The Archbishop, not being worldly-wise, managed to pull most of the country on his head!

His statement yesterday and the avalanche of response point to a need to ask what it means to be a society. Maybe it also points to a need for the Church of England to be disestablished so the Archbishop’s words become not a pronouncement from the leader of the state church, but a comment from a leader of just one church among many.

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  1. Ian, it does not really matter what group the Archbishop of Canterbury was speaking to yesterday. Was he off duty and there in civvies? I am sure he was wearing his badges of Office a cross and a ring. Being well educated he must know, that when he opens his mouth in public, he will be quoted, misquoted and his words taken out of context.

    From a totally non religious point of view my blood boiled. Why? His idea might, and I say might, have a bearing in certain circumstances, but if the laws are changed or new ones introduced, then any good lawyer can use the changes to their own purposes and to suit a client. Remember a lawyer does not need to believe his client is not guilty; he only needs to prove that the person did not commit the crime.

    I was not born in the country where I reside but I DO live by the laws here. I stand for the National Anthem and sing along with everyone else. In my early days a friend from the south was with me on one occasion where the National Anthem was played. She was horrified at me singing it. I turned to and said “I am prepared to accept the Children’s Allowance and free NHS so singing the National Anthem is part of the deal!â€?

    If I go to a Moslem country I expect to live their laws and not expect that they change them for me.

  2. Hear Hear Grannymar We are British and every-one coming to my country to live will abide by our laws. I am from the West-country where perhaps our views are slightly narrower than the masses. I think the Archbishop does need someone to proof read his thoughts.

  3. I assume you’re talking about the suggestion that the legal system adopt some edicts of the Sharia law? I was flabbergasted. Whilst I applaud retaining cultural identity when one emigrates to another country, they have to adopt the laws of that country. Would the Iranians for instance not cut off the hands of a European thief if they were resident? I also remember a couple of Australian boys being flogged for flauting Sharia law a few years back. It’s a preposterous suggestion to my mind. I applaud some cultural leeway such as letting Australian moslems wear their hijab to school (there were suggestions this should be disallowed because a full burkha could hide weapons for goodness sakes but sense prevailed) but to change the law to suit an ethnic minority – sheer madness. This is why Church and State must remain separate.

  4. I don’t think the law is divisible. Williams seemed to envisage that things like divorce might be handled in Moslem courts, but there are many dimensions to such cases. If what is proposed is fully compliant with British law, then why the need for different courts? If it is not compliant, then it is not acceptable.

    I agree with separation of Church and State.

  5. It is a pity that Williams does not recognise that there is a separation between the Church and State, or has he, as some seem to think, been misrepresented by the media. Maybe I am mistaken but I think that his remarks as head of the Anglican church have done much to alienate the church

  6. But that’s the problem, England does not have separation of Church and State. Williams speaks as leader of the Established Church, as a bishop and as a politician who has a seat by right in the House of Lords. If there were to be the disestablishment of the Church of England, half of the furore would not have arisen because he would be of no more significance than the president of the Methodist Church and his remarks, misrepresented or not, would not be of much interest to anyone except his own church members.

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