>Sharia and the Archbishop

> The width of the gap between what we say and what gets reported depends on what the reporters of a conversation want to make of it in grabbing a story. Happens all the time, even to the most local conversation. We hear what we want to hear and see what we want to see.

It’s particularly true of our leaders as their comments are continually (mis)construed. Apparently Archbishop Rowan was acknowledging “as a matter of fact certain provisions of sharia are already recognised in our society and under our law” – he wasn’t proposing a parallel system of law, but was instead exploring ways in which reasonable accommodation might be made within existing arrangements for religious conscience. The issue affects everyone with a conascience – he raised the example of the Christian doctor who would like to assert his/her right not to conduct abortions in the context of a secular legal system which permits abortion. Orthodox Jews already have their own system of Beth Din over, for example, dietary laws, divorce and tenancy disputes.

The media has portrayed Rowan as “gone barmy”. In fact, his comments were part of a lecture given to over 1000 people at a lecture at the Royal Courts of Justice chaired by the Lord Chief Justice. Presumably amongs this 1000 there are some pretty good judges (!) who would presumably have been protesting more loudly if they thought it was all barmy.

Maybe the Archbishop was articulating what is a real challenge to our society. If he was to keep silent he would be abdicating his leadership. Here’s what he actually said. And here’s what Bishop Alan has to say about Abdul the Bogeyman.

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