Alex Massie

Department of Religious Stupidity

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According to Mitt Romney, Europe is doomed because we're all a bunch of godless pornographers. Yes, really.

But then, here's what the Church of England has been up to, just today.

Exhibit A: Let there be Darkness.

                        LONDON (AFP) - Two senior Church of England bishops called Tuesday for Britons to cut back on carbon, rather than the more traditional chocolate and alcohol, for the Christian period of Lent this year.

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, and Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, have teamed up with aid agency Tearfund to invite the public to take part in a "carbon fast" for the next 40 days.

During Lent, which starts Wednesday and lasts until Easter, Christians are supposed to fast and pray. In the bishops' green drive, those taking part can choose how they reduce their carbon footprint on a daily basis.

"For example, on the first day, people can take out one of their light bulbs and whenever they go to turn that light on, and it doesn't work, they can remember why they are fasting from carbon -- to help the poor of the world.

"At the end of the fast they can replace it with an energy-saving light bulb," Jones -- who is vice-president of Tearfund -- explained.

Other activities include avoiding plastic bags and insulating the house.

Exhibit B: One law for you, one for the rest of us.

The Archbishop of Canterbury says the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK "seems unavoidable".

Dr Rowan Williams told Radio 4's World at One that the UK has to "face up to the fact" that some of its citizens do not relate to the British legal system.

Dr Williams argues that adopting parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion.

For example, Muslims could choose to have marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in a Sharia court.

He says Muslims should not have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty".

In an exclusive interview with BBC correspondent Christopher Landau, ahead of a lecture to lawyers in London later on Monday, Dr Williams argues this relies on Sharia law being better understood. At the moment, he says "sensational reporting of opinion polls" clouds the issue.

He stresses that "nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that's sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states; the extreme punishments, the attitudes to women as well".

But Dr Williams says the argument that "there's one law for everybody... I think that's a bit of a danger".

Granted, the CofE has been a daft institution for centuries. But, really, may the lord save us, so to speak, from the pratlings of  prelates.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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