Thursday, February 28, 2008

Not all Anglican bishops are nuts, just most of them

From Front Page Magazine:

In January, Church of England Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali ignited Islamic protests when he asserted that some areas of British cities have become “no-go” zones for non-Muslims.

Now under police protection after receiving death threats, Nazir-Ali refused to back down this past Sunday in an interview with The Telegraph of Britain. The ethnically Pakistani Nazir-Ali has also criticized the remarks earlier this month by his superior, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who suggested Islamic law possibly should have civil authority in Britain .

Nazir-Ali asked The Sunday Telegraph: "Do the British people really want to lose that rooting in the Christian faith that has given them everything they cherish - art, literature, architecture, institutions, the monarchy, their value system, their laws?"

After the initial flare-up responding to his January comments, the Bishop of Rochester responded on his website: "The purpose of my article was to point out that the best way for welcoming and integrating newer arrivals in this country should have been a Christian vision of hospitality and not the secular policy of multi-culturalism which has led to such disastrous consequences."

[. . .]

Nazir-Ali’s father was a convert from Islam to Christianity, a decision that could have resulted in his death in Pakistan . After himself becoming an Anglican bishop in Pakistan at age 35, Nazir-Ali had to resettle in Britain because of Islamist death threats. So this bishop has few illusions about the threat posed by creeping Islamization. Nor is he a stranger to the possibly lethal consequences of challenging radical Islam.

"If you disagree, that must be met by counter-arguments, not by trying to silence people,” he explained to The Telegraph about the latest dangers his remarks have aroused. “It was a threat not just to me, but to my family. I took it seriously, so did the police. It gave me sleepless nights."

For many of Britain ’s cultural and religious elites, Britain’s Islamic minority is merely an opportunity to burnish their multicultural credentials and atone for the real and imagined sins of Christendom across the centuries. Just as British appeasers of 70 years ago sanctimoniously believed themselves virtuous because of their zeal to accommodate fascism, today’s multiculturalists are smugly blind. They want to pretend that radical Islam will neatly fit into their dreams of a beautiful social mosaic. They are loath to admit that multiculturalism is the hobby of Western liberals, who can freely enjoy their hobby only thanks to Western concepts of tolerance. That which they seek to appease in fact would ultimately smash their rainbow kaleidoscope, if permitted the power.

"The recovery of Christian discourse in the public life of this nation is so important,” Nazir-Ali told The Telegraph. “It's that discourse that will allow us in a genuine way to be hospitable to those who come here from different cultures and religions." Having come from the Global South, the Bishop of Rochester knows that humanity is overwhelmingly religious by nature. Europe ’s brief flirtation with aggressive secularism will not persist. "The real danger to Britain today is the spiritual and moral vacuum that has occurred for the last 40 or 50 years,” the bishop warned. “When you have such a moral vacuum something will fill it.”

Nazir-Ali prefers Britain ’s historic religious traditions to the traditions of his native Pakistan : "If people are not given a fresh way of understanding what it means to be a Christian and what it means to be a Christian-based society then something else may well take the place of all that we're used to and that could be Islam."

The Telegraph reported that many Church of England clerics rallied to defend their chief prelate, Rowan Williams, when he was criticized around the world for his voluminous pontifications about possible civil recognition of Islamic Law. Few senior prelates offered a similarly robust defense of Nazir-Ali, despite the death threats against him.

"I don't court popularity,” Nazir-Ali told The Telegraph. “If I say something it's because I think it's important enough to say it.” But he is perplexed by the reluctance of other British bishops to address the Islamization of some British cities that even some British civil authorities openly acknowledge: "I can't guess why they haven't talked on the issue. I'm not responsible for other people's consciences." When The Telegraph asked if Britain’s religious officials are silent due to cowardice, the Bishop of Rochester responded: "You'd have to ask them."

Nazir-Ali told The Telegraph that Islamist teachings about polygamy, women’s rights and freedom of belief would undermine British civil concepts about equality: "People of every faith should be free within the law to follow what their spiritual leaders direct them to, but that's very different from saying their structures should replace that of the English legal system because there would be huge conflicts."

The Bishop of Rochester speaks clearly when many of his fellow Church of England clerics, presiding over empty museum-churches, prefer to obfuscate. But having fled his native land once in the face of Islamist threats, Nazir-Ali seems undeterred.

Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe not only because of immigration from Muslim countries and the high Muslim birthrate but because the bankrupt secularism of European culture is being rejected by a population who ache to fill the spiritual void left by the abandonment of Christianity. Islam grows because it appears to be strong and vibrant and its followers are full of certitude.

Of course the picture is not completely bleak. Evangelical Christianity is the second fastest growing religion in Europe as some Europeans seek to reconnect with what it was that made European civilization great to begin with.