From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
ACNS3470 Archbishop delivers major inter faith lecture
"Anglican Communion News Service" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thu, 12 Jun 2003 00:34:20 +0100
ACNS 3470 | LAMBETH PALACE | 11 JUNE 2003
Archbishop delivers major inter faith lecture
[ACNS source: Lambeth Palace] Dr Rowan Williams has today (Wednesday 11
June) delivered his first major address on inter faith relations since
becoming Archbishop of Canterbury.
Speaking at the University of Birmingham, Dr Williams challenged some basic
assumptions about relations between faith communities and between religions
and secular society.
Dr Williams warned policy makers against treating religion as a separate and
subordinate sphere of life. He also challenged religious traditions to be
clearer about the true nature and extent of their differences.
Dr Williams criticised the secular tendency to view religion as "a
subdivision of human activity which belongs among the optional extras, after
you have attended to the clear imperatives of non-religious public life."
He also spoke of misconceptions that could arise when faith communities were
harnessed for government and other programmes.
He said, "Sometimes there can be an expectation that religious communities
will simply follow a broadly liberal social agenda, and a consequent anger
and disappointment when this doesn't materialise...What matters is to
recognise that the religious person or group starts from a perspective which
on some questions will deliver conclusions similar to those of the secular
progressive and on some questions definitely will not."
Turning to religious traditions themselves, Dr Williams called for a clearer
appreciation and understanding of "the very significant disagreements about
the kind of universe we inhabit, what that universe makes possible for human
beings and what is the most truthful or adequate or even sane way of
behaving in the universe."
He added, "Once we are clearer about the nature and scope of religious
disagreement, we are actually more rather than less likely to develop a
respectful and collaborative practice in inter-faith relations." Faith
schools, he added, could play an important role in that process.
Dr. Williams went on to criticise the religious intolerance of some
faith-based states. They betrayed, he said, "a very disturbing lack of
confidence in their own religious resourcefulness."
He praised non-theocratic societies for allowing real contention about
religious truth. But the secular vision of society also had to strive to
make itself credible: "When it refuses this," he said, " we have a mirror
image of theocracy - an uncriticised ideology defining the terms of public
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