Church of England: Multi-faith agenda causes division
The Church of England, of course, would never have volunteered an opinion on this contentious subject, so a faithful saint has leaked the confidential report to The Sunday Telegraph. The Church's document is said to challenge the view that the UK is a ‘multi-faith society’ insofar as ‘the contribution of the Church of England in particular and of Christianity in general to the underlying culture remains very substantial’. It further states that Government policies designed to encourage community cohesion and the integration of minority faiths has left society ‘more separated than ever before’, and asserts that the Church has been ‘sidelined’, and Islam given ‘preferential’ treatment.
Cranmer has some sympathy with the Church’s accusation that Government policy in this area is ‘schizophrenic’. How does one address such complex issues when the nuances of debate are reduced to superficial soundbites, causing Muslims to, at best, withdraw into self-indulgent victimhood, or, at worst, aspire to acts of terrorism? How does one offer solutions to separateness when some of those symbols of separateness, as Jack Straw has discovered, are deemed to be beyond criticism? How does one assert any kind of Christian response, when the Established Church appears to have been supplanted by an Established Mosque, and the Government emits signals that appear to encourage the notion that Islam enjoys some kind of privileged relationship?
Perhaps the Minister for Local Government, Phil Woolas, alludes to the nexus of the dilemma when he observes that other faiths might find aspects of Islam ‘frightening and intimidating’. Thus any dialogue appears to carry with it a latent threat that bombs and bullets, metaphorical or literal, are concealed beneath the niqab. This is a justifiable fear, and the Church of England is right to raise the ages-old Reformation question: How, precisely, does one dialogue and negotiate with those who consider that their view of society is the one to which we must all be subject, and in this they are infallible?