Archbishop of Canterbury Calls for Religious Unity

Comments on society’s general distrust of religion
( [email protected] ) Dec 29, 2003 01:07 PM EST

The head of the 77-million member worldwide Anglican Communion called on the leaders of all faiths to unite in the effort to regain the trust of the general society of religion.

Criticizing France for its plans to ban Muslim headscarves in schools and UK for “sniggering” at Tony Blair’s faith, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, noted the ever-increasing mistrust of religion of the secular world.

"Discomfort about religion or about a particular religion may be the response of an educated liberal or, at the opposite extreme, the unthinking violence of an anti-Semite; it isn't easy to face the fact that sometimes the effects are similar for the believer,” said Williams.

According to Williams, the religious faith has too often become the "language of the powerful".

"Historically, the answer is, alas, that religious faith has too often been the language of the powerful, the excuse for oppression, the alibi for atrocity.

"It has appeared as itself intolerant of difference (hence the legacy of anti-Semitism), as a campaigning, aggressive force for uniformity, as a self-defensive and often corrupt set of institutions indifferent to basic human welfare,” said the Archbishop.

Because the mistrust is partly due to the misuse of faith for oppression and violence, Canterbury suggested that Christians show that their faith was “on the side of humanity.” He also stressed the need for Christians, Muslims, Jews and others to stand together in times of need.

"All our great religious traditions say something of this - which is one reason for Christians, Muslims, Jews and others to stand with each other and speak out for each other in times of stress or harassment."