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Nazir-Ali: Britain is founded on faith

by
13 December 2007

by Bill Bowder

CHRISTMAS churchgoing is evidence that a large proportion of the British people follow the Christian faith, the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, said last week. He was speaking about Britishness, Islam, and Christianity at the launch of a religious media charity, Lapidomedia.

“Forty-three per cent of people in this country will go to church at Christmas — what is the significance of that? Is it just something to do after the pub? I think it is more than that.”

“We can’t let the British people off the hook: literature, art, law, institutions, and values derive from the Christian faith. Turning back from the Christian faith for people as a whole is turning back from the very foundations of our society.”

Dr Nazir-Ali rejected as “facile” the idea that extremes in Islam were simply a sign of its youth, and that it would mature over the centuries, as Christianity had done. Religion could regress instead, and in places had done so.

He argued that all faiths would be “answerable at the bar of human opinion” for the suffering they caused: “We do not have the luxury to leave this to the faith communities to resolve themselves — they are accountable.”

Hannah, aged 32 and a Christian convert from Islam, who was present at the meeting, was one person who had suffered under an extreme interpretation of Islam. She is now under police protection, as her family had threatened to kill her after she had been baptised. Yet she said she was not afraid to die. “I am not going to let it stop me being who I am — being a Christian.”

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