The Church of England has written to David Cameron accusing him of lacking ‘a coherent or comprehensive approach to Islamic extremism as it is developing across the globe’. The letter, signed by the the Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines, and approved by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, also reportedly accuses the PM of turning his back on Christians slaughtered or made homeless in northern Iraq – and wonders why Cameron has chosen to concentrate on the plight of the Yazidis instead.
These criticisms are spot on. But I’m surprised that the C of E has had the brass neck to make them.
For decades, the Anglican and Catholic Churches have ignored the growth of the domestic Islamic extremism that has seen British Muslims travel to Syria and Iraq to fight for Isis. They have warned us (rightly) against Islamophobia without considering the possibility that many Muslims hate the Churches with unwavering intensity. Archbishop Rowan Williams supported the extension of Sharia in this country. His attitude was one factor in persuading the only C of E bishop who did draw attention to the Islamist threat, Michael Nazir-Ali, to resign the see of Rochester and work full-time to protect Christians abroad.
The ambitious Bishop Baines is now loudly defending Christian minorities. Good for him. It makes a welcome change from his crude Tory-bashing. This is how he summed up Government policy in a blog post in February:
'… we are determined to get people off welfare dependency and to reduce the tax burden of welfare, so we are prepared for people to starve and become destitute in order to achieve that longer-term goal.'
I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that attacking a Conservative-led government comes more easily to Bishop Nick than attacking Labour – and, as I said, his reference to ‘a lack of a coherent or comprehensive approach’ to global Islamism hits the nail on the head.
But where is the Church of England’s apology for failing to acknowledge the existence of a worldwide Islamist campaign against Christianity until virtually the other day? And will it ever acknowledge that its ‘meaningful dialogue’ with Muslim hardliners has been interpreted by them as a sign of Christian weakness?
Of course not. The C of E is quick to say sorry for colonialism, sexism, homophobia etc. Not once has it apologised for a naïve liberalism that has endangered the lives of Christians in Muslim countries.