Civil law and religious practice

By Press Office
February 8, 2008

Responding the Archbishop of Canterbury's lecture and interview on religious and civil law, Simon Barrow, co-director of the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia, said that Dr Williams’ sentiments “are no doubt rooted in goodwill and the search for mutuality, but they run the danger of introducing an unhelpful confusion between voluntary association, communal practices and the protective role of a common civil law.”

He added: “The confusion is also present when faith groups expect the government to enact blasphemy laws on their behalf, when religiously-based ritual, moral and covenantal codes for marriage are required to be co-terminus with legal civil partnership arrangements, and when faith groups seeking public money and contracts to be public service providers seek opt-outs from universal equalities requirements.”

Ekklesia says it is concerned that the Church of England, recognising the untenability of privileges it still claims as an Established Church, is now seeking to create a broader “multi-faith establishment” where “the same problems will be replicated across a wider and more complex arena. This compromises the voluntary nature of religious association and mobilisation, quite apart from introducing anomolies within wider society.”

See also: What lies beyond Lambeth's Sharia humiliation?

Real problem, wrong solution (on OpenDemocracy):

"[T]he Archbishop seems to be recognising that particular privileges for the Church of England are not on. But he is also being leant on to preserve them by seeking to construct a multi-faith establishment instead. That is no more credible or justifiable... His loss of a clear nonconformist conscience is unhelpful."

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