Sunday, May 28, 2006

Defender of Which Faith?

Affluent high-profile Britons who convert to Islam have been in the news lately. Are they, like Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam), sincere spiritual followers who have felt the call of the Prophet? Or do they simply sense which way the wind is blowing in Britain these days?

Sometimes it can be a matter of basic prudence. When young working-class women in Birmingham take up the veil, it is generally to avoid being harassed or raped by local Muslim men, not because of the spiritual majesty of Islam.

Here at Gates of Vienna we’ve become accustomed to the moribund irrelevance and passivity of the Anglican Church, both in the United States and in Britain. Thus it took smelling salts to revive us when we heard about a bishop in the Church of England who actually defended his faith against the encroachment of mushy multiculturalism.

To make the affair even more poignant, the bishop in question was born in Pakistan. Here’s the report from The News:

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Michael Nazir-AliA leading Anglican bishop has attacked the trend towards what he called a multi-faith mish-mash in ethnically diverse Britain, and said it was time to reassert the country’s Christian identity.

Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali also questioned heir-to-the throne Prince Charles’s desire to be seen as a defender of all faiths, not just Christianity, when he takes over as monarch.

Pakistani-born Nazir-Ali, whose family background is both Christian and Muslim, pitched into an emotive debate about national identity in a country deeply shocked last year when four British Islamic militants killed 52 people in attacks on London’s transport system.

The bishop argued that the basis of British society, from the monarchy to its laws, was “Christian constitutionally”.

“All our values come ultimately from the Bible,” he told BBC radio.

Isn’t that a bit over the top? I mean, the Bible is all very well, but, really

Then he has the nerve to assail the current heir to the British throne:

As the future titular head of the Church of England, Prince Charles has said he would like to be known as “Defender of Faith” rather than “Defender of the Faith.”

Bishop Nazir-Ali took issue with the heir to the throne, saying: “The coronation service is such that whoever takes the oaths actually takes oaths to defend the Christian faith.”

“You can’t defend every faith because there are very serious differences among them,” he added.

This is the crux of the matter: not all religions can be reconciled with one another. Islam has its own hallowed scriptural basis for refusing reconciliation with all other faiths.

I’ve been expecting Prince Charles — based on his fatuous pronouncements from recent years — to undergo a prominent conversion to Islam in the not-so-distant future.

Would that cause a constitutional crisis in Britain? If any of our British readers care to weigh in with an opinion, I’d be glad to hear it.

You can’t defend every faith because there are very serious differences among them.


Hat tip: Bharat Rakshak.

17 comments:

Archonix said...

If Charles converted to islam it'd make the constitutional problems surrounding the ascension of catholics to the throne look like a friendly discussion.

The act of succession and the bill of rights, amongst other things, require that the King or Queen be a protestant christian. More accurately they bar the post to anyone with catholic leanings, which is based on the times when catholic kings felt a need to swear fealty to the spanish, which was felt to be a threat to English security. The assumption has always been that the monarch and the people would be anglican, so there's nothing about Islam, for or against, and superficially it would appear that there's nothing to prevent Charles from becoming a muslim. But the problem then surfaces: how does he carry out his duties as the head of the Anglican church if he's a muslim? He can't. It's one thing to be an athiest, pretending for the sake of appearances, but to hold a faith that directly contradicts much of what the king professes to defend would cause problems to say the least.

To solve that you might call for disestablishment of the church, but that creates a problem as well. The ties between the state and the church are so strong in some areas that it would mean a complete re-write of certain parts of the law. The documents founding parliament - a treaty signed between the monarchy and the people - are worded in terms of the church having a presence within parliament, for instance. These documents can't be repealed by act of parliament, because repealing them would remove the very foundations on which the parliament exists.

Then there's the popular angle. Would a muslim King be accepted by a nominally christian society? I doubt it very much. Great Britain, despite the efforts of a minority, is still very much anglo-protestant in its culture. It'd create a scandal like the Simpson scandal that saw Edward abdicate in the 30s; possibly greater in some ways, which would mean that there'd be popular pressure for charles to abdicate. If parliametn assented to that we'd be faced with a potentially revolutionary moment, as we faced back then. We'd have the anti-monarchists pressing for a republic, William waiting in the wings and potentially several claimants to the throne waiting with him. The Stewarts are still out there, as are the Tudors. Any number of european monarchies hold claims on the english throne, though they're quite tenuous. If the monarchists saw through the throne would fall to william and a lot of arguing that might die down. If they didn't, and we were faced with a republican revolution, we'd have... a mess. Possibly a civil war.

And that's not even considering the reaction of the muslims in the country. If they see an Islamic king dethroned, how would they react?

But, all that aside, I'm not sure Charles will convert. His mother won't let him. :)

Mrs. Davis said...

Before I get to any of that, I have to get past the idea of Chuck prostrate five times a day. Don't think so. Not even for Camilla

Robert Schwartz said...

The Act of Settlement (1701): "The Sovereign must, in addition, be in communion with the Church of England and must swear to preserve the established Church of England and the established Church of Scotland. The Sovereign must also promise to uphold the Protestant succession."

It might well be the case that Charles is a communicant of the CofE and that he fancies himself a Muslim. It probably wouldn't bother the CofE very much, nothing seems to bother them these days. However, such tolerance is a completely foreign concept to most Muslims.

Disclaimer: I am neither British nor Christian. Other should know more than I.

Archonix said...

I rather imagine they would care about it. There's enough traditionalists in the synod that care about the succession, if nothing else, to make a noise. They've been quiet so far because they perceive a bit of "tolerance" of muslims to be fairly innocuous.

Gormless Norman said...

Archonix,

It's good to hear you say that people still care about these things. But if it would still be difficult for a monarch to convert to Islam today, I think in another 20 years or so it won't be as difficult given demographic trends and the continuing decline of Christianity, in particular the Anglican church (along with mainline Protestantism in the US). And, I think the monarchy itself will continue to lose significance, as the UK ultimately comes under the sway of Islam. The ties between the government and the church will gradually be undone, because it will seem improper that the government should endorse one religion. It's this idea that's behind Charles' "Defender of the Faiths" nonsense. I see a gradual transition on the horizon, so smooth and slow that it's barely noticable, rather than constitutional crises, coups, schisms, etc.

Scott said...

One must understand what it is like
to be a British citizen today in a
community that has 'gone' Muslim.

Perhaps only those who live around
Detroit know now.

You wake up to see men in Muslim
dress with their women folk at a
discrete distance wearing burqas.

The call to prayer is announced on
the loudspeaker from the Mosque and
'your' community comse to a stand
still. Yet you are not in Karachi
or Islamabad. You are in Bradford,
England! That is what our neighbors
overseas are going through. Entire
cities being taken over by an alien
people.

This is not a political matter,we
are engaged in a war of survival.

mpavx said...

And here I was expecting HRH to become Orthodox!
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1214522,00.html

Matt said...

Well, I'm not British, but I am Canadian and so share the same monarch.

The pews of the Anglican church are, I hear, almost entirely empty. I'm not sure how many Britons really worry about the relevence of the CoE to modern power politics, or the relevence of the monarchy for that matter. As for constitutional concerns, when has Blair ever shown any concern for those? Or the rest of the modern British government for that matter? It says somewhere in th Bill of Rights (or so I've been told) that an Englishman has a right to defend himself, just as a fr'instance.

Archonix:
"But, all that aside, I'm not sure Charles will convert. His mother won't let him. :)"

But doesn't she have to die before he ascends to the throne anyway? If he wanted to get maximum effect from the conversion, he'd have to do it after he'd already been crowned, when there's nothing anyone can do about it without looking insufferably boorish (can you imagine the temper tantrum the multicultis would throw, to say nothing of the muslims, if tradionalists started saying, "He shouldn't become the king, because the kind shouldn't be a Muslim!" I'm convinced his actually being the kind when he converted would only make it worse.)

Sadly, I see this as being at least a 50/50 too. Chuckie always has been a chucklehead ... can't seem to open his mouth without saying something foolish. Personally, I'd back young Will to the hilt, even knowing almost nothing about him. The monarch is a symbol, and a 'reversion' to islam is symbolism Britian doesn't need.

Would a political pissing match over the throne turn into open warfare in the streets? Maybe. My bet would be on those excitable lads from, say, Bradford starting a riot, with the PC-hobbled bobbies enforcing the peace in a half-hearted way and cracking down hard on any reprisals, a la the Sydney beach riots. This wouldn't go away the way those did, though, because it's a much bigger deal ... the result would be widespread, deeply felt distrust of the civil authorities. I wouldn't want to speculate what might happen after that.

The prospect of Charles renaming himself Kamal scares the shit out of me, because it could bring things to a head in Britian in a very ugly way.

John B said...

Re: "Bishop Nazir-Ali took issue with the heir to the throne.."

Anyone who takes issue with the bozo Charles is in my good books.

Archonix said...

Matt pretty much has it. As a country we're hide-bound by tradition, which is why we still have so much of the traditional ceremony in parliament when other monarchies have abandoned all but the essentials. If Charles did convert while on the throne there would be quite an argument.

Strangely enough, in any such uprising, for want of a better word, the monarchy's biggest supporters will probably be the working and lower-middle classes rather than the aristocracy. Working class types are highly conservative, despite being mostly labour voters, as they have a collective memory of the hardhips they suffered when various upper-class twits decided to "work for the people" and caused all kinds of strife. They also resent the media luvvies, the champagne socialists, who tell them that the monarchy is old-fashioned and imply that Islam is somehow superior. They aren't christian, but they are moral.

If fights start it'll be in working class areas. There's a huige resentment against the incoming Muslim immigrants, who are seen as leeches and who take up jobs that these people would take if they weren't so bound by employment regulations. Faced with an Islamic king there's no telling what they'd do.

Matt said...

Archonix:

The fighting always starts in working class areas. The aristocracy is too busy creating the conditions for it, and positioning themselves to profit by whatever the outcome is, while the middle class is too busy trying to keep their noses clean and get on with their lives. It's the way of things.

Of course, this just makes the cries of neandertal 'racism' and islamo'phobia' all the more inevitable. Those champagne socialists who claim to know what's best for the working class are the first to tell them how ignorant and brutish they are, the first to reprimand them for their intolerance. And, nine times out of ten, the first to side with the islamists ("Not to excuse the barbarity of suicide bombing, but [fill in excuse here]." Look to see a lot of handwringing, a lot of accusing, and a lot of taking the wrong side ... laws passed against religious intolerance, media speech codes, that kind of thing. Which of course will only make everything worse.

Oengus Moonbones said...

The Bishop of Rochester is like a refreshing breath of sweet air in the midst of all the multi-culti staleness. That he's from Pakistan makes it doubly more ironic.

Nonetheless, and I hate to admit it, but Britain is pretty much done for. It's a goner, folks, another victim of the 21st Century Multi-Culti Wars. Still, I'm hoping against hope that maybe something might come around to change the tide, but I'm not holding my breath.

Farewell, beautiful green England of Chaucer, Shakespeare, poetry and dreams. Hello, Euro-Caliphate. Hello, wahabi madrassahs. Hello, burqas. Hello, minarets and the loud blare of muezzin loudspeakers everywhere calling.

To short-circut all the unnecessary messiness, why can't Charles just go ahead and declare himself the "Caliph" of Albion? And the prime minister his "Grand Vizier"?

ex-democrat said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ex-democrat said...

Baron - i'm afraid i don't know enough to comment on the likelihood of a constitutional crisis, but I will say, that for myself, this latest news makes me thankful (again) that my home is now the USA, but for my homeland, makes me coldly furious.
And from what I know of the Brits - that feeling will be pretty widespread.

james said...

I can't see him converting to anything terribly austere: the rumor had it that he was Sufi. I haven't the pulse of the British street, and can't guess whether they'd accept him as a Sufi monarch, but there's an amusing alternative. The Windsor family are descended from Muhammad (via the Spanish court), and so he might be of use as a ruler of Mecca and Medina when custody of these (along with everything else) is taken from the house of Saud.

William said...

“All our values come ultimately from the Bible,” he told BBC radio.

‘Isn’t that a bit over the top? I mean, the Bible is all very well, but, really…’

Now,

Since values don’t spring from the ground, where did these “values” come from then?

For example, the American and British anti-slavery movement is traceable to the New Testament which is PART of the Bible, and YES, again, the anti-slavery movement is traceable to the New Testament

And remember that the American Justice system is linkable to British Common Law which traces a history right back to the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta was the first written document to put forth the premise that no man is above the law. At the time of the writing of the Magna Carta, Briton had been a Christian nation for . . . sometime.

Pim's Ghost said...

Ooops, missed this one before I posted on Brit converts in the above post.