Friday, July 18, 2008

"the religion set forth by Her Majesty"

" ...outside London, the universities, and a few great towns, the average parson in the early years of Elizabeth’s reign was not an impressive figure. Sometimes he had kept his benefice by conforming under Edward VI, changing his creed under Mary, and finally accepting what a rural bench once described as “the religion set forth by Her Majesty” as the only way of earning a living" - from Churchill's History of the English-Speaking Peoples.

The British government is to fund a board of Islamic theologians in an attempt to sideline violent extremists. The move will see Oxford and Cambridge Universities host a group of scholars who will lead debate on key issues such as women and loyalty to the UK. Under the plans, the two universities will bring together about 20 leading thinkers, yet to be named, to debate critical issues affecting Muslims in the UK. The Department for Communities is responsible for the government's strategy to combat violent extremism, known as "Prevent". It will provide funding and support for the project but maintains that the board's work will be completely independent of political interference. The board's work will focus on examining issues relating to Islam's place in Britain and obligations as a citizen.

Hmm. "The religion set forth by Hazel Blears ?"

Ms Blears said the department's support for the project emerged out of debate with Muslim communities who asked ministers for help in supporting the work of key thinkers across the UK. "We have made significant progress working with communities to build an alliance against violent extremists," said Ms Blears. "We have a responsibility to ensure that our young people are equipped with the skills they need to stand up to violent extremists and help them understand how their faith is compatible with wider shared values.

Hmm. As Lord Carey has said, we are living in dangerous and potentially cataclysmic times. And this is our government's response.