Hilaire Belloc argued that there isn’t even such a thing as Christianity. There’s only the teaching of the Church and variously heretical deviations therefrom.
Belloc might have overstressed the point. However, this doesn’t mean he didn’t have a point.
It’s impossible to lump together under the same rubric Catholicism with, say, Christian Science. The Christ worshipped by the former has little to do with the Christ venerated by the latter.
So much more intellectually frivolous it then is to believe that various creeds, such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism, are sufficiently similar to be classed together as ‘religion’.
‘Intellectually frivolous’ can segue into downright cretinous in the able hands of Richard Dawkins who disavows ‘religion’ because of the profusion of terrorist acts perpetrated in its name. The syllogism is simple, and idiotic in its simplicity: Muslims commit terrorist acts; Muslims are religious; therefore the fault lies with religion in general.
It would be unchivalrous to apply pejorative modifiers like ‘idiotic’ to Rachel Sylvester. Alas, her comments on Dame Louise Casey’s report on integration suggest that Miss Sylvester in particular suffers the deficit of logic ascribed to her sex in general.
In broad strokes, the report says that many Muslims live in self-imposed apartheid, often to the point of not realising that Britain isn’t actually a Muslim country.
Dame Louise attaches most of the blame to the Muslims themselves, but also some to our government, so eager to accommodate diversity that it has “ignored or even condoned regressive, divisive and harmful cultural and religious practices for fear of being branded racist or Islamophobic”.
Thus many Muslim children speak bad English, live in Islamic enclaves and go to schools where all pupils are Muslims. That makes them ripe for radicalism.
The diagnosis is good – now what’s the conclusion? Oxford imam Dr Taj Hargey offers some sensible ones in his Mail article. He correctly blames uncontrolled immigration, accompanied by a manifest lack of effort on the part of the government to make sure migrants coming to Britain accept what Britain is.
Dr Hargey proposes solutions: making sure that new arrivals take an oath of allegiance, learn English, repudiate rites that contravene British law, attend mixed schools and so forth.
This is a logical response to Dame Louise’s report, even though Dr Hargey’s measures aren’t going to succeed because his key premise is wrong: he rebukes “Wahhabi-Salafists” because “they reject the inclusive and pluralistic ethos of Islam’s scripture…”
By ascribing inclusiveness and pluralism to Islamic ethos Dr Hargey loses some of the merit points in my estimation. If taken to task on the issue, he’d no doubt cite many inclusive and pluralistic verses from the Koran, ignoring one minor detail.
Mohamed dictated most of them while still in Mecca. When he took over Medina, he began to kill people in large numbers, justifying such activities in the Koran. As a result, the Islamic holy book contains 300-odd verses explicitly calling for the killing – or, at a kinder moment, ostracism – of Christians and Jews.
Islamic scholars solve the contradictions by applying ‘abrogation’: in case of conflict, the later verses take precedence. The Centre for the Study of Political Islam (CSPI) estimates that the ‘religion of peace’ takes abrogation seriously: it has killed 270 million infidels in the 1,400 years it has been in business.
I’m sure that intelligent Muslims like Dr Hargey can find a way of reconciling their faith (and its theology) with being loyal British subjects. But anyone who holds a realistic view of human nature has to realise that such Muslims constitute a minority so infinitesimal that it wouldn’t make a dent in the findings of Dame Louise’s report.
Also, the ‘British values’ that Dr Hargey wants the Muslims to embrace understandably exclude Christianity, the core of every other ‘value’. A quick look at the Queen’s 1952 coronation oath will confirm that Britain is constituted as a Christian commonwealth, which must create a problem for any devout Muslim, even one as intelligent as Dr Hargey.
But at least he doesn’t defy logic. Dame Louise has identified the problems; Dr Hargey proposes solutions, perfectly logical if perhaps unrealistic. But Miss Sylvester, while accepting Dame Louise’s findings, lets her sex down yet again by following up with staggering non sequiturs, which seems to be her stock in trade.
Because Muslim children grow up in ghettos and attend schools with no white faces around, Miss Sylvester thinks Mrs May should abandon her professed commitment to faith schools. Not specifically Muslim schools, but all of them, including Catholic and Anglican ones.
“[Mrs May’s] aim is to encourage diversity of provision,” writes Miss Sylvester, “but the change will surely also deepen divisions at a time when religion is the source of so much tension and concern.”
“Religion”, my dear Miss Sylvester, is “the source of so much tension and concern” only to intellectually disadvantaged ignoramuses who know little about either religion or Britain, and understand even less.
It’s not too much religion that’s the problem. It’s too much Islam.
Christianity underpins British culture and civilisation, along with its every law and institution. Christian schools, which incidentally provide much better general education than comprehensives, teach that.
Hence the more British pupils attend Christian schools, the more civilised they – and Britain – will be. The more Muslim children attend Muslim schools, the less civilised they – and Britain – will be.
There’s no such thing as religion in general. There is, however, such a thing as hacks who ought to retrain for a new career. Digging ditches would be my suggestion.