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The Anglican Church, Archbishop Williams, and Sharia Law

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


I feel a bit negligent that I just noticed this dust up over that really started last week. I’ve had a great deal of respect for Archbishop Rowan Williams, and certainly don’t envy the fault lines he needs to navigate in the current state of the Anglican Communion.  What I find most compelling in his statement is the idea of multiple tiers of “the law”.  This debate really seems to be concerning the limits of the state. Should a non-governmental agency have the ability to offer up some type of judicial action, or is that only reserved for state sanctioned courts? Personally, I see the state in charge of minimally necessary social laws (private property rights, what-have-you), perhaps leaving room for some other level of social governance. However, for these entities, people should be able to engage and disengage at will. In other words, if someone converts from Islam, they would no longer be subject to the Sharia court’s jurisdiction. I guess this could be viewed as a secondary social compact. Anyway, with this, just because someone might be able to disentangle themselves from this court doesn’t mean that they would be free of recrimination for violating the covenant they engaged in, whether ostracization or something else. The state would just provide limits on the level of punishment. Interesting ideas, really. This is just what rattles off my fingers at the basic, first read. I’d be interested in hearing what others have to say, of course.