He’s just making it worse
Part of the “burden and the privilege of being the Church” in the UK meant, Dr Williams said, the clergy needed “some coherent voice on behalf of all the faith communities living here”…The relationship between law and religion was a subject on which “Christians and people of other faiths ought to be doing some reflecting together”, he added.
No it isn’t, because there shouldn’t be any such relationship, for reasons which the Archbish himself mentions in the speech – without, of course, perceiving them as reasons.
[A]s any Muslim commentator will insist, what is in view is the eternal and absolute will of God for the universe and for its human inhabitants in particular…[S]haria depends for its legitimacy not on any human decision, not on votes or preferences, but on the conviction that it represents the mind of God…To recognise sharia is to recognise a method of jurisprudence governed by revealed texts rather than a single system…There is a recognition that our social identities are not constituted by one exclusive set of relations or mode of belonging – even if one of those sets is regarded as relating to the most fundamental and non-negotiable level of reality, as established by a ‘covenant’ between the divine and the human.
Religion is about what believers consider the eternal and absolute will of God for the universe and for its human inhabitants, without having any reliable way of knowing that, or testing it, or falsifying it. It’s eternal and absolute, yet humans know nothing whatever about it – yet they claim that they do. This is an abysmal epistemic situation from which to make laws. That is why Arch should shut up about the relationship between law and religion, because there shouldn’t be one. Humans can’t make decent laws by ‘relating to the most fundamental and non-negotiable level of reality, as established by a ‘covenant’ between the divine and the human’ – because there is no such covenant, or if there is, it’s odd that we have no real evidence of it (no, a very old story does not count as evidence). The archbishop comes right out and admits that his side of the aisle deals in the non-negotiable, and yet he wants the rest of us to let his crowd help shape the law. Forget it. The combination of the unknown-unknowable and the non-negotiable is poisonous. That’s why law should be secular; that’s why theocracies are nightmare places; it’s appalling that Rowan Williams doesn’t get that.