Responding to comments about the rise of Islam and the demise of Britain as a 'Christian nation' by the Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, Simon Barrow, co-director of the Christian think-tank Ekklesia, said that some of the bishop's views were based on an outdated and counter-productive attempt to reclaim the social and political power of the church. But he welcomed the resulting debate.
"Dr Nazir-Ali has echoed the fear many people feel about the changing demography and make-up of Britain, and while I disagree with his overall analysis it is better to get the issues out in the open than to mumble in the dark", he commented.
Barrow added: "The bishop has also named the core issue that needs addressing in terms of the future of Christianity and the West - the demise of Christendom, the era in which the church could expect privilege and largely unquestioned influence in society."
He continued: "Ekklesia argues that establishment religion is a contradiction of the subversive heart of the Christian message, but Dr Nazir-Ali has vividly illustrated the anxiety felt by its defenders. We invite him to consider a positive, alternative future in which Christians become known for modelling new possibilities of peace and justice rather than competing for control and power."
Ekklesia has argued that the disestablishment of the Church of England would be a positive thing, pushing the churches to embrace alternative visions of Christianity for a post-Christendom era.
See also: 'Faith and Politics After Christendom': http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/research/faithandpoliticsafterchristendom