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The rapid fragmentation of society, the emergence of isolated communities with only tenuous links to their wider context, and the impact of home-grown terrorism have all led even hard-bitten, pragmatist politicians to ask questions about “Britishness”: what is at the core of British identity; how can it be reclaimed, passed on and owned by more and more people?

The answers to these questions cannot be only in terms of the “thin” values, such as respect, tolerance and good behaviour, which are usually served up by those scratching around for something to say. In fact, the answer can only be given after rigorous investigation into the history of nationhood and of the institutions, laws, customs and values which have arisen to sustain and to enhance it. In this connection, as with the rest of Europe, it cannot be gainsaid that the very idea of a unified people under God living in a “golden chain” of social harmony has everything to do with the arrival and flourishing of Christianity in these parts. It is impossible to imagine how else a rabble of mutually hostile tribes, fiefdoms and kingdoms could have become a nation conscious of its identity and able to make an impact on the world. In England, particularly, this consciousness goes back a long way and is reflected, for example, in a national network of care for the poor that was locally based in the parishes and was already in place in the 16th century.

In some ways, I am the least qualified to write about such matters. There have been, and are today, many eminent people in public and academic life who have a far greater claim to reflect on these issues than I have. Perhaps my only justification for even venturing into this field is to be found in Kipling when he wrote, “What should they know of England who only England know?” It may be, then, that to understand the precise relationship of the Christian faith to the public life of this nation, a perspective is helpful which is both rooted in the life of this country and able to look at it from the outside.

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John D
June 3rd, 2008
10:06 PM
The objectivist moral claims of Judeo-Christian values have been replaced by Relativist 'values'. Relativism cannot stand up to a self-confident objectivist Islamism especially when the latter is backed by the treat of violence (eg Muhammad cartoons). Many Relativists undermine Judeo-Christian objective values, and give Islamism a free pass.

S Lawyer
June 3rd, 2008
7:06 PM
Methinks the bishop wants to turn Britain into a Christian republic the way some Pakistani generals turned Pakistan into an Islamic republic. Please spare us the theocratic nonsense, Dr Nazir-Ali. And stop trying to be the unthinking man's Francis Shaffer.

Brian
June 3rd, 2008
4:06 PM
To Bill Hensley: You have got to be kidding. The Bible teaches none of those values - one need not be a Christian to believe in any of these values you specify. Like all moderate enlightened Christians,, you have smuggled enlightenment values into the text, choosing to ignore things that don't support them. All those uncomfortable parts about child marriage, god-sanctioned genocide, etc. are chlaked up to "historical contingency" while the pleasant teachings of Jesus (of which Paul and others seemed either ignorant or more or less unconcerned with) are held up as fine moral teachings despite that fact that not a single sentmiment therein can't also be found in an earlier pagan work. And it wasn't their atheism that led to the depradations of communism and other totalatarisms, it was their commitment to worldviews, ideologies, and truth claims that were eerily similar in form to those of religion.

Bill Hensley
June 3rd, 2008
2:06 AM
Peter, thank you for the explanation of the scientific method. However, what I was asking for is the evidence which supports your assertions. You have proposed a hypothesis which I consider contrary to reason and experience: that there is a causal link between Christianity and criminality in the Western democracies. I asked why you believe that. You mentioned an article in a journal unfamiliar to me. Can you provide a link to the article? If not, could you summarize it for me here? Of course, I am interested in the data and not just the conclusions.

Peter Brawley
June 2nd, 2008
5:06 PM
Andrew, you’ve no info about what I “unconsciously” know, or what I might “need” humankind to be. As far as I know, I don't need humankind to be anything. By definition “religious certainty” (like some other certainties) is delusional. Religion opposes reason ever time it trains a person to believe religious fairy tales over rational analysis of evidence.

Peter Brawley
June 2nd, 2008
5:06 PM
To Bill Hensley: Some of the empirical findings are in a well known paper in J Relig Sci. You asked for an explanation of them. Science proceeds by replicating facts, conjecturing explanations, and testing them---thereby finding more facts. If you want to take a scientific approach to relationships between religion & crime, that's what you do.

Iftikhar Ahmad
June 2nd, 2008
3:06 PM
We live in a shrunken world and millions of people are on the move; one of our biggest challenges is how we learn to live in proximity to difference – different skin colours, different beliefs and different way of life. According to a study by COMPAS, Muslims born and educated were given the impression of outsiders. The perception among Muslims is that they are unwelcome in Britain is undermining efforts to help them integrate into wider society. Most of them say that they have experienced race discrimination and religious prejudice. Muslims and Islam is promoted a fundamentalist and separatist by the western elite, which have negative impact on community and social cohesion. The number of racist incidents occurring in London Borough of Redbridge’s schools have reached their highest levels since record begin. A City or a locality, where Muslims are in majority is a ghetto. There is a tendency for people of similar backgrounds to live together in neighourhoods. The term”ghettoisation” is inappropriate. The original ghettos in Europe during the middle ages were set up by law to confine the Jewish population to one area of a city. According to a research by an Australian academic that Muslim communities in Britain are being increasingly ghettoized in a trend that set back hopes of assimilation by years. Britain has now eight cities in the top 100 most ghettoized cities. The people from the Pakistani community in Bradford and Oldham and Leicester had trebled during the decade. A report by an academic Dr Alan Carling, that Bradford risks becoming a front line in the global clash between the West and Islam. But Islam and Muslims do not clash with the concepts of pluralism, secularism and globalisation. The native flight from Bradford’s inner-city wards showed clear evidence of an increase in segregation in the city since 1991. Native parents are avoiding sending their children in state schools where Muslims and other minorities are in majority. The dominance of Pakistani Muslims in the city has meant that Bradford has become bi-cultural. Immigrants are the creators of Britain new wealth, otherwise, inner cities deprived areas could not get new lease of life. The native Brits regard such areas as ghettoes. Integration is not religious and cultural, it is economic and Muslims are well integrated into British society and at the same time they are proud of their Islamic, linguistic and cultural identities, inspite of discrimination they have been facing in all walks of life. According to UN, 80% of British Muslims feel discriminated. They are less burden on social services. Immigrants made up 8.7% of the population, but accounted for10.2% of all collected income tax It is often quoted by the Western media that Muslim schools ghettoizse the children, and even lead to their radicalisation if they are not integrated. There is no evidence that faith schools lead to a “ghettoized education system. In British schools, pupils are encouraged to focus too much on their similarities rather than their differences. The integrationist approach merely results in Muslims feeling that their faith, language and culture is not respected. Iftikhar Ahmad www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

ian tattum
June 2nd, 2008
2:06 PM
It is always interesting to witness the great gulf between the reported words of a commentator and the actuality. I don't agree with all of the bishop's arguments- he slightly understates the role of islamic scholars in bringing Aristotle to the West and overstates the impact of the synthesis between evangelicalism and the enlightenment- the role of Sydney Smith should never be underestimated- on social progress.Over all a thoughtful and informed piece. It is always a pity that the comment section of any journal is so quickly colonised by grumpy atheists who have an alarmingly deficient interest in historical truth or reasoned debate.For people so averse to fairy tales they swallow some secular myths mightily easily!

Andrew
June 2nd, 2008
4:06 AM
To Peter Brawley: I like to know why you see religion more as a threat than a chance. Because unconsciously you very well know that the promises of the Entlightement - such as the reign of Universal Reason/Humanism sometime in the future - will or can never be achieved? The Enlightement has produced many great things, but also evils such as communism, nationalism, environmental destruction, etc etc. These evils are proof of the fallen nature of man. Are you rejecting religious truths because you cannot accept than man is by his nature not as reasonable as you need him to be? The rule of Universal Reason, of Humanism only makes sense if man is inherently reasonable - but one can empirically observe in reality that he is not and will never be. I feel this is somewhat at the heart of those who get nervous in the face of religious certainties. The ideals (or dogmas) of the Enlightement are exactly this: mere fantastic ideals, not realities reflecting the nature of man. The not so honorable history of the 20th century shows us to be wary of such a dogmatic understanding of Reason. But religion has never made a case against reason itself. Reason (not as a dogma like in the Enlightement) is deeply imbedded in Christianity. It is time for a truce between reason and faith! It is time to rediscover the roots of reason in our religious tradition without neglecting the good fruits of the Enlightement.

Bill Hensley
June 2nd, 2008
3:06 AM
Peter, it appears you have a hypothesis with no data. I don't think there is a causal link between Christianity and criminality. I don't even think there is a correlation between them. Why do you think there is, Peter?

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