Skip to main content

The Archbishop and Marital Pluralism: An American Perspective

  • John Witte (a1)

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams (head of the worldwide Anglican Communion), set off an international firestorm on 7 February 2008 by suggesting that some accommodation of Muslim family law was ‘unavoidable’ in England. His suggestion, though tentative, prompted more than 250 articles in the world press within a month, the vast majority denouncing it. England will be beset by ‘licensed polygamy’, ‘barbaric procedures’ and ‘brutal violence’ against women and children, his critics argued, all administered by ‘legally ghettoized’ Muslim courts immune from civil appeal or constitutional challenge. Consider Nigeria, Pakistan and other former English colonies that have sought to balance Muslim sharia with the common law, other critics added. The horrific excesses of their religious courts – even calling the faithful to stone innocent rape victims for dishonouring their families – prove that religious laws and state laws on the family simply cannot coexist. Case closed.

Hide All

1 The full text of Dr Williams' lecture is reproduced at pp 262–275 of this issue.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Ecclesiastical Law Journal
  • ISSN: 0956-618X
  • EISSN: 1751-8539
  • URL: /core/journals/ecclesiastical-law-journal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed