Saturday, May 27, 2006

Bishop attacks multi-faith policy

I am always very cautious about jumping to conclusions on "Bishop says" or "Bishop attacks" stories. Having read part of David Jenkins' (former Bishop of Durham - yes, that one) autobiography, I am aware that he is a very thoughtful and dedicated Christian, a mile away from the caricature of the "mad bishop" presented in the tabloids.

The latest "Bishop says" story is summarised thus by the BBC:

"A senior Anglican bishop has condemned what he says is the sacrificing of the UK's Christian character as the idea of a multi-faith society is enforced.
Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali said Christianity's unique message was being lost as policymakers became fully committed to the multi-faith concept. He also criticised the conversion of hospital and prison chapels for "undifferentiated use" by all faiths."

I tried to find the longer article without success. It is in the Church of England newspaper which doesn't publish its longer articles on line. However, their web site does carry this extra quote:

"For a long time the Church of England has used its position not to exclude other churches and latterly, other faiths, but to make sure they are included. This, however, is no longer good enough. There are now pressing demands that dedicated and sometimes consecrated, Christian chapels in prisons, hospitals and elsewhere be turned into multi-faith centres, often known as "the multi-faith", for undifferentiated use by people of all faiths."

In itself, that seems a fair comment (consecration of sites is important to all faiths - if that term can be used for all faiths). In fact, a quite specific point about concecrated sites which sadly will be generalised to mean "Bishop attacks multi-faith society", which he is not doing.

I think that we can learn a lot from other religions. Recently on holiday I was touched by the devotion of the muslims (as well as the Coptic Christians) and their devoted praying.

Once again I am left thinking that if all those people who write "C of E" against "religion" on the census form actually occasionally went to church and said the odd prayer or at least opened the Bible once every Blue moon, we would have a much stronger Christian community in this country. Daily Mail scare-stories about the "encroachment" of other faiths are somewhat beside the point.

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