Mea culpa update: comments have shown that at least one of the quotes from the article is taken completely out of context. The others, though, remain to my mind problematic. But since the quote under discussion in this post is the very one discredited it does render the post itself mostly useless.
Rowan Williams is often held up as the paragon of theological humility and excellence, but his time as Archbishop has shown that when it comes to dealing in the public sphere he is nothing but a muddled thinker, regardless of how beautiful of a soul he may have. While claims about the radicality of the Anglican Church were always laughable (seeing as it is a State church), the notion that they the Church could somehow act as a moral centre for British society (already a strange notion for a religion claiming universality) has always been problematic when you actually look at the stands officials make. So, some grunts and words of protest when the welfare state is completely dismantled, and strong threats of breaking down the relationship between the State and the Church when gay marriage looks likely to happen. In other words, even for the supposedly more enlightened Anglicans, sexual issues are still more important than questions of class and justice. Williams has always seemed to me to embody this particular tension leading to political worthlessness and nowhere is that clearer than in a recent Guardian story about leaks from his forthcoming book.
The Guardian, of course, focuses on the scorn heaped (and rightfully so) upon the concept of the Big Society, a concept first developed by Phillip Blond and John Milbank (who ghostwrote about 1/3 of Red Tory), but passes over some rather troubling remarks concerning Muslims in Britain. This is what I found interesting, since everyone who reads this site either already knows that the Big Society is (to put it bluntly) bullshit used to try and cover up an attack on civil society that sees wealth being directly taken from the worst off, or, if they don’t think that, are never going to be convinced since this sort of politics has now been taken as a kind of creedal element of their thought.
Consider this long extract form the article, including quotes from the forthcoming book:
The archbishop also says that the Labour party was wrong, in 2006, to make incitement to religious hatred a criminal offence, arguing that anti-Muslim statements or images could show courage. “The creation under British law of a criminal offence of incitement to religious hatred has provoked bitter and sustained controversy. Disproportionate attention has been given to a hypersensitive minority.
“Some anti-Muslim images or words (foolish and insulting as they may be) may well exhibit courage in a world where terrorist violence reaches across every national boundary.”
He also calls for greater integration of Muslims living in Britain and insists they make their loyalty to “the nation state” rather than “the international Muslim community”. “To suggest that the Muslim owes an overriding loyalty to the International Muslim Community [the Umma] is extremely worrying,” he writes. “Muslims must make clear that their loyalty is straightforward modern political loyalty to the nation state.”
This coming from a thinker who often has praised the notion of the postsecular, the idea that religion now has returned to public life, and a thinker often held up by those Christians who assume themselves radical in their allegiance, not to the State, but to the Church. It would appear that the postsecular is fine if it can help Christianity to colonize the world, but thankfully for the Anglican Church it will always have the police power of the nation state when any other religion wishes to compete.