Monday, March 19, 2012

Rowan Williams' worthless career showed exactly why religion must stay out of politics

[Originally posted at NOW Lebanon]

Anglican Christians around the world – including Lebanon’s own few thousand – can pour themselves a hearty slug of London dry tonight in celebration of the news that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and ‘spiritual leader’ of England’s official state religion, is resigning.

Being the head of an increasingly irrelevant organization in an increasingly irrelevant country, Williams is often seen as a likeable and harmless enough character – an endearing relic, along with the Queen, the Tower of London and the Eton wall game, of what England used to be. The reality, unfortunately, is not quite so cuddly.

Here is a man, after all, who preferred to forbid the ordination of openly gay clergy than to lose the friendship of brazenly homophobic colleagues. Here is a man who took reactionary positions on such non-trivial matters as abortion and euthanasia, while never being able to give a straight answer on the question of creationism. Worst of all, here is a man who argued for the incorporation of the shari’a in the UK on the grounds that Orthodox Jews, too, had parallel courts of their own (when David Cameron cooed that he “sought to unite different communities”, he got it exactly backwards). In other words, since the system is already part-broken, there’s little harm in savaging it further. He went as far as to describe as “dangerous” the idea that “there’s one law for everybody and that’s all there is to be said”. But then, the principles of liberal democracy would naturally be anathema to a man whose unelected power and privilege are paid for by the taxpayer.

In summary, here is a man whose example tells us exactly why men of religion need to be permanently kept away from politics.

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