Archbishop 'confused' about radical Islam
By Damian Thompson Last Updated: 1:44am GMT 26/11/2007
One wonders what the millions of Christians persecuted by Islamist terrorists and governments will make of the Archbishop of Canterbury's interview with a Muslim lifestyle magazine. If they are looking for a condemnation of Islamic violence, they will be disappointed.
Dr Rowan Williams is "surprised" by the way Pakistani Muslims perceive local Christians as "deeply threatening". He feels that the Muslim world should be ready to acknowledge that "their present political solutions aren't always very impressive" and that they should consider learning from "classical liberal democracy". And that's it.
The rest of the interview is given over to attacking the United States and "Christian Zionists" - hardly a bold stance in a Muslim magazine.
Dr Williams has a history of anti-Americanism dating back to his student days; he is a self-described "hairy Lefty" who, now that Tony Blair is out of the way, feels comfortable reverting to his default position. And, up to a point, that is fair enough.
If the Archbishop feels that America has lost the moral high ground since September 11, then he is entitled to say so; many churchgoers will agree, and warmly endorse his suggestion that the United States should recover that ground by launching "a generous and intelligent programme of aid".
How will American Anglicans react to his words? To be sure, most of them despise President Bush - but they may not enjoy being lectured on imperialism by a Primate who is pulling the colonial strings of the Anglican Communion to draw them into submission to his policies.
By choosing this moment to compare the American "empire" unfavourably to the British one, Dr Williams is confirming that he lacks the political skills to host what will surely be the last Lambeth Conference.
What this interview also displays, however, is a much more worrying confusion about the nature of radical Islam.
Christians in Indonesia, Africa and the Middle East are being beaten, imprisoned, tortured and killed in the name of Allah. Moderate Muslims in Britain desperately need to be made aware of this situation.
And what has the Archbishop of Canterbury given them? Yet another sermon on the evils of Yankee imperialism.
The return of George Leonard Carey
Posted by Damian Thompson on 12 Dec 2007 at 19:59
How fascinating that George Carey, not the current Archbishop of Canterbury, has been chosen as an intermediary to appeal for the safe release of five British hostages held in Iraq. I wonder what Rowan Williams makes of that. Hmm. I think I can guess.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey
And did you know that Lord Carey of Clifton now has his own website http://www.glcarey.co.uk/, complete with speeches and press releases? How shrewd. My old mate George obviously realises that, in a post-Lambeth world in which the office of Archbishop of Canterbury is almost irrelevant, he can still present himself as a major Anglican leader.
When Rowan was nominated to succeed him, George expressed “deep joy”. Likewise, I’m sure he’s experiencing “deep sorrow” at Rowan’s current problems.
Here is the key to George, in my opinion. There are lots of subjects on which he has nothing to say, because he’s a man of very narrow horizons. He’s also a natural authoritarian who demands respect. So when he was faced with difficult questions from stroppy journalists, he would waffle angrily.
But there are subjects on which George has absolutely clear views, and now that he is out of office he can devote himself to them. Unfortunately for Rowan, two of Carey’s hobby horses are a) the wonders of conservative African Christianity and b) the wickedness of pro-gay American liberalism.
Combine the two, and what have you got? Millions – literally millions – of African evangelicals and their rich American allies who regard “our George” as the real Archbishop of Canterbury because of his principled stance on gays. “This would never have happened under George,” they say, surveying the current mess – which just happens to be true.