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ENGLAND: Do we need Muslims working in our Cathedrals?

ENGLAND: Do we need Muslims working in our Cathedrals?

by Andrew Carey
Church of England Newspaper
October 2nd, 2009

Yet another Cathedral has appointed a Muslim to its staff prompting the question of whether a Mosque will ever reciprocate. Bradford Cathedral's decision to appoint Nuzhat Ali as its inter-faith Development Officer has barely drawn any controversy, let alone surprise.

Canon Chris Chivers, of Blackburn Cathedral, the first to employ a Muslim pre-empted any protest. "There are always going to be people with extreme views who have difficulties with this. However, if you are firm and strong in your faith, then what is the problem in talking with someone of a different faith? What are you going to lose?"

If ever a straw man deserved to be knocked down it is this one. Firstly, the implications that you are an extremist if you have reservations about employing a Muslim in a Cathedral is misleading and deliberately insulting. Second, the idea that "talking to someone of a different faith" automatically equates to employing them is clearly questionable.

It is clear that Nuzhat Ali will have some kind of theological role in the Cathedral including holding "Scriptural Reasoning Workshops" and giving lectures. I'd object to this appointment on the grounds that it implies a recognition of her Islamic theology on a par with the Christian theology.

Furthermore, as the Church of England experiences frontline cuts of clergy across the dioceses, I have even greater concern for such diversion of funding from Christian mission.


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