The 105th and current Archbishop of Canterbury has a well-deserved reputation as an ecumenical evangelical who has tried to make peace between warring factions in various places, and for that he must be given credit. Peacemakers who walk the road of peace should be praised but they should not be immune to criticism. One criticism that can be aimed at Archbishop Welby is this: At a time when Anglican places of worship in areas afflicted by Islamic violence are being attacked, the Most Reverend Archbishop Welby is uncomfortably silent when he should be speaking up.
Christian communities in Nigeria are coming under repeated and murderous attack from Boko Haram jihadists. Pastors and Vicars are murdered, congregants put in fear of their lives and churches are being smashed and burned.
But from the Archbishop there is effectively silence. There has been no high profile public condemnation of the Islamic violence that is being aimed at Christian communities in Nigeria, despite Archbishop Welby’s long association with that country. It is not enough that he was involved in the setting up of projects to reduce tensions between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria. The time is long past where happy clappy interfaith work with Muslim groups can be lauded as a success. How can it be considered a success if Jihadist groups are still murdering Christians and oppressing them?
An interfaith workshop, with Christian and Muslim all apparently getting on and finding their similarities as well as their differences, may look good in the pages of the Church Times, but it does very little to give succour to those Nigerian Christians who live their whole lives at the point of the Islamic sword. Archbishop Welby may be beavering away in the background in Nigeria, but it is now time for leaders like Archbishop Welby to start to become much more pro-active publicly about oppressed Christians.
What is needed from Archbishop Welby are public and uncompromising words. He must call evil by its name, Islam, and speak up for Christians who are suffering terrible oppression in Nigeria and in other countries where Islam is the guiding ideology. Archbishop Welby is an intelligent man and no doubt one factor in him not speaking out would be that to speak out would endanger Christians who live in Muslim lands.
However, what Archbishop Welby must understand is that such Christians living in the shadow of Islam are always at risk, whether he speaks up or not. It matters not one bit how much Archbishop Welby and the Anglican Communion suck up to Islam, or how many interfaith committees the Church of England and various Muslim groups sit together on, Islam will always want to exterminate Christianity. There is nothing that Archbishop Welby can say that will put Christians at any more risk of oppression than they are already.
To the pious Muslim, Christianity is considered as ‘shirk’ because the Christian concept of the Trinity being 3-in-one is not, to the Islamic mind, complete monotheism. Now such a concept of god is also at odds with other monotheistic religions such as Judaism, but Jews do not want to exterminate Christians, despite the long and ugly phenomenon of Christian anti-semitism. Unlike other religions, Islam always wants to dominate and kill.
Christianity will always be seen as ‘other’ in the minds of the pious Muslims. Christians are designated as a second class people in the eyes of the Shariah.
Christians in Muslim lands are at risk and Archbishop Welby needs to get off the interfaith fence and start to speak up for them. It is no more acceptable to negotiate and co-operate with Islam, than it is to co-operate with Satan, neither will give a straight answer or respect an agreement, or a peace treaty and both will be tricksy to the end.
It seems to me morally wrong for Archbishop Welby to see what is happening to his co-religionists and not to speak up. Is he worried about the Christians in Nigeria or Egypt, or is he worried that members of the Islamic fifth column that reside in the UK may come and try to attack him in Lambeth Palace?
It is shameful that more is not said by British Christian leaders, and especially the leading cleric of the established Church, about the dire conditions that other Christians live under in the Islamic world.