I didn't know they had it in them.
The Church of England has launched an astonishing attack on the Government's drive to turn Britain into a multi-faith society.
In a wide-ranging condemnation of policy, it says that the attempt to make minority "faith" communities more integrated has backfired, leaving society "more separated than ever before". The criticisms are made in a confidential Church document, leaked to The Sunday Telegraph, that challenges the "widespread description" of Britain as a multi-faith society and even calls for the term "multi-faith" to be reconsidered.
It claims that divisions between communities have been deepened by the Government's "schizophrenic" approach to tackling multiculturalism. [I]t has actually given "privileged attention" to the Islamic faith and Muslim communities....
[T]he paper says that the Church of England has been sidelined. Instead, "preferential" treatment has been afforded to the Muslim community despite the fact that it makes up only three per cent of the population. ...
The leaked report follows a week of tension in which a Muslim policeman was excused armed guard duty at the Israeli embassy in London, Asian and white youths clashed in Windsor, and Jack Straw suggested that Muslim women should not wear the full veil across the face in public.
The report lists a number of moves made by the Government since the London bombings in July last year to win favour with Muslim communities. These include "using public funds" to fly Muslim scholars to Britain, shelving legislation on forced marriage and encouraging financial arrangements to comply with Islamic requirements. These efforts have undermined its interfaith agenda and produced no "noticeable positive impact on community cohesion", the Church document says.
"Indeed, one might argue that disaffection and separation is now greater than ever, with Muslim
communities withdrawing further into a sense of victimhood, and other faith communities seriously concerned that the Government has given signals that appear to encourage the notion of a privileged relationship with sections of the Muslim community."
"In relation to faith, there has been a divided, almost schizophrenic approach," the briefing paper says. The Government was misguided in "scapegoating the Muslim community as the source of the problem at the same time as believing that they should be uniquely responsible for solutions". It goes on: "The contribution of the Church of England in particular and of Christianity in general to the underlying culture remains very substantial."
The 2001 census showed that 72 per cent of Britons describe themselves as Christian. "It could certainly be argued that there is an agenda behind a claim that a five per cent adherence to 'other faiths' makes for a multi-faith society," says the document.
Does this mean the majority is going to stand up to the schoolyard bully? Stay tuned.