Archbishop speaks on freedom of expression, religious intolerance and prejudice in the UK

On 17th October 2018 the House of Lords debated a motion from Communities Minister Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, “That this House takes note of the challenges posed by religious intolerance and prejudice in the United Kingdom.” The Archbishop of Canerbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, spoke in the debate. A transcript is below, with excerpts from the speeches of others in the debate:
The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, and others who have made this useful and important debate possible. Like the noble Lord, Lord Hain, I agree with much of what the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, said. I agree also with the passionate and clear setting out by the noble Lord, Lord Hain, of the threats and incidents that have occurred in recent years. However, I want to focus more on religious intolerance and prejudice. If I have one concern, it is how we bring together religious tolerance, and stand against the kind of things the noble Lord, Lord Hain, spoke about, while maintaining freedom of speech.
In his book, The Home We Build Together, the noble Lord, Lord Sacks, wrote:
“Society is not a house or a hotel. It should be a home”.
The rising tide of anti-Semitism, with which I am deeply familiar through work with the Chief Rabbi, and Islamophobia, which we in the Church are deeply familiar with through working with Muslim leaders across the country, are just two illustrations of the narrowing of those who feel truly at home in the UK today. This terrible, storm-ridden climate is affecting people across a whole range of religious traditions.

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Archbishop of York highlights importance of collective responsibility in resisting terrorism

On 27th June 2018 Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked an Oral Question in the House of Lords: ‘To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in pursuit of their anti-terrorism strategy, they will require preaching in mosques and teaching in madrassas in England and Wales to be monitored for hate speech against non-Muslims.’ The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu, followed up with a point about collective responsibility for resisting terrorism:

The Archbishop of York: My Lords, does the Minister agree that pursuing anti-terrorism is the business not just of the Government but of all citizens of the United Kingdom? Therefore, if noble Lords do not mind an African saying, when two elephants fight, or make love, the grass gets hurt—what will not work is either side of the House thinking that it is doing a better job than the other. All of us are involved in trying to resist terrorism; it does not matter where it comes from. It is the duty of every citizen to pursue that particular reality. I lived in Uganda at one time when Idi Amin could just pick on anybody; it did not matter who you were or what you believed. What is critical, when we as citizens of the nation do not assist in the whole question of overcoming terrorism, is that it would be a mistake to think that it is purely an Islamic question. Continue reading “Archbishop of York highlights importance of collective responsibility in resisting terrorism”

Bishop of Worcester asks about religious literacy in Government, especially of Islam

Worcester271117On 21st May 2018, Lord Ahmed tabled an Oral Question ‘To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to encourage Iran and Saudi Arabia to work together to bring peaceful solutions to the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.’ The Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Dr John Inge, asked a follow up question:

The Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, does the Minister accept the continuing pressing need to improve religious literacy, not least concerning Sunni and Shia, within and without Whitehall if we in this country are properly to understand, let alone address, the problems to which reference has been made? Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester asks about religious literacy in Government, especially of Islam”

Bishop of Leeds invokes 9th Commandment in discussion of Islam

On 30th April Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of figures from the Office for National Statistics showing that the Muslim population of England grew 10 times faster than the general population between 2001 and 2016; what is their estimate of future growth; and what is their assessment of the impact of that trend on the relationship between Sharia and domestic law.” The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow-up question:

The Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, does the Minister agree that a prerequisite to any intelligent discussion of Islam or any other religion should pay attention to the ninth commandment, which is that you will not bear false witness against your neighbour?

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Bishop of Newcastle expresses support for Muslim communities in light of hate crimes

On 13th March 2018, Lord Young of Cookham repeated an answer given to an urgent question about inflammatory letters inciting a ‘Punish a Muslim’ day. The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, denounced these letters, expressed her solidarity with the Muslim community, and asked the Government what action it is taking to support grass-roots relationships.

The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, on behalf of these Benches and, I am sure, on behalf of the Church, I want to say that any attack on a person or community on the basis of their faith or their race is abhorrent and has no place in a decent, civilised society.

As a Christian leader I stand in solidarity with my Muslim friends and with all those in and outside this building who have been directly affected or are fearful and anxious.

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Bishop of Oxford asks Government to affirm Muslim communities’ condemnation of child sexual ​exploitation scandals

 

On 13th March 2018 Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the national scale of the “grooming gang scandal”, including sexual exploitation of non-Muslim children by Muslim men, as emerged recently in Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford and elsewhere; and what steps they are taking to enable the prosecution of those in the police and local authorities who have failed to prevent it.” The Lord Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I am enormously grateful for the Minister’s Answer to the Question. I had the great privilege to be the Bishop of Sheffield for seven years during the child sexual ​exploitation scandal in Rotherham and I am now the Bishop of Oxford. I spent a great deal of time in Rotherham following Professor Jay’s report and registered the shock across all sections of the community, including, of course, the Muslim community there, who were as deeply appalled by what had happened as the rest of the community. I vividly remember visiting some parents at a mosque in Rotherham and hearing how their children were insulted by the rest of the community in words I will not repeat in this House. Will the Minister affirm the condemnation with which these scandals are greeted across the Muslim communities in each of these towns and cities?

 

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Bishop of Leeds asks Government about funding of anti-democratic Islamist forces in Syria

leeds-20117On 20th December 2017 Baroness Cox asked the Government “what is their assessment of the current situation in Syria”. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow-up question:.

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, would the Minister agree that there is a danger here that support for, and funding of, anti-Assad forces, however understandable that may seem from the outside, might lead to exactly the same unintended consequences that we have seen in Iraq—namely, the strengthening of anti-democratic Islamist forces who have no intention of delivering the freedoms that we assume they should? Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds asks Government about funding of anti-democratic Islamist forces in Syria”