Right wing Christians and secularists join in condemnation of Rowan Williams

Anger Over Church BackingThe Archbishop of Canterbury prompted anger yesterday by putting Muslim veils on an equal footing with Christian crosses.

Britain’s most senior churchman, Dr Williams, said talk of banning the full-face niqab reminded him of China, where the state controls all religious life. He said: “The ideal of a society where no visible public signs of religion would be seen – no crosses around necks, no sidelocks, turbans or veils – is a politically dangerous one.”

But Stephen Green, the national director of fundamentalist group Christian Voice, said Dr Williams appeared to be ranking Islam alongside Christianity. He said: “We Christians should be more ready to stand up and be counted. We have to say that our faith is a world view and it’s not just something we do on a Sunday.”

Alison Ruoff, a member of the CofE General Synod, said: “The Archbishop should be standing up for the Christian faith in a much more visible way. He should be making a more public stand for Christianity and not for other religions.” Roy McCloughry, director of evangelical think-tank the Kingdom Trust, said: “The veil is not a religious issue – it is a cultural issue.”

Terry Sanderson, vice-president of the National Secular Society, which campaigns against all religious interference in non-believers’ lives, said: “Minority religions are now demanding a place at the table. Dr Williams is using phony arguments. Comparing ministers’ criticism of veils in Britain with what goes on in China is ridiculous. He’s running a hare that does not exist. There is no ban on veils in this country.”

Daily Express, 28 October 2006