A bit of a danger

I got a record number of email messages alerting me to the Archbishop’s fun new ideas on the subject of law and religion, which seems to hint that they may not be as sound as they are exciting.

Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4’s World at One that the UK has to “face up to the fact” that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

Quite so. UK murderers, rapists, extortionists, batterers – they do not relate to the British legal system. Good idea to face up to that fact, if one hasn’t already. But is it a good idea to actually adopt ‘certain aspects’ of murderers’, rapists’, extortionists’, batterers’ law? I would say no.

He says Muslims should not have to choose between “the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty”.

Really? Why not? Everyone has to choose between those alternatives. Why make exceptions? Because the cultural loyalty of Muslims is somehow special? Well, how, then?

Dr Williams said an approach to law which simply said “there’s one law for everybody and that’s all there is to be said, and anything else that commands your loyalty or allegiance is completely irrelevant in the processes of the courts – I think that’s a bit of a danger”.

Uh…do you really, Dr Williams? That’s a little scary. You think it’s a danger to say there is one law for everybody? You think it’s safer to say there are multiple laws for different people or you probably mean ‘communities’? Have you thought this through?

Dr Williams added: “What we don’t want either, is I think, a stand-off, where the law squares up to people’s religious consciences.”

Ah yes – so that’s what it’s all about. Religious consciences. The ones that make people want to treat gay people unequally, for instance – those religious consciences. Well my atheist and secular conscience tells me that laws should be universal. So how are you going to resolve that conflict?

Oh well, Doc W is in quite a lot of hot water already, I probably shouldn’t tease a fallen giant, even if he did trip his own self.

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