Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Daily Telegraph: Church of England accused of censoring debate on Islam

The Church of England has been accused of censorship for shelving a controversial debate about Islam.

A meeting of the Church's "parliament" was due to discuss whether clergy should be doing more to convert British Muslims to Christianity.

The sensitive issue was highlighted last week by a senior bishop who accused Church leaders of failing to reach out to other faiths, and warned that radical Islam is filling a gap in society caused by the decline of traditional Christian values.

But now the Church has put off the debate on recruiting Muslims until next February at the earliest and will discuss the promotion of churches as tourist attractions instead.

Paul Eddy, a lay member of the General Synod, said his Private Members' Motion should have been on the agenda at next month's meeting in York as more than 100 other members had supported it including three bishops.

He believes it has been shelved because it would have shown up wide divisions in the Church over its attitude to converting believers in other faiths, at the same time as it faces schisms over the appointment of women bishops and homosexuality.

The debate would have taken place just 12 days before the once-a-decade summit of Anglican bishops, the Lambeth Conference. It would have piled more pressure on the embattled Archbishop of Canterbury, who earlier this year sparked a storm by claiming some parts of Islamic law would be adopted in Britain.

Mr Eddy said yesterday (tue): "I think they're censoring it on theological grounds and because of the timing.

"Ten days before Lambeth there would be lots of bishops who would not be comfortable voting on the uniqueness of Christ.

"I believe after the Archbishop's comments on sharia he would know there would be such press interest in it."

He went on: "From the telephone calls and emails I have received, people feel very aggrieved that, at this particular time in the church's history, Synod was not given an opportunity to be debate evangelism.

"Now that Synod has electronic voting, it would have been very easy to show how many of our bishops believed in the uniqueness of Christ as the only means of salvation, something which would have shown the division on orthodox views in the House." Read more
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