Dr. Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, recently discussed the inclusion of religious voices in public life when it comes to addressing difficult moral and legal matters.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams addresses the Lord Mayor's Banquet at the Guildhall in London, Monday Nov. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/PA, Stefan Rousseau)
The British faith leader said Saturday that any society that reveres the rights of its people must also ensure that a faith perspective is given a seat at the negotiating table.
"A society committed to law and rights ought to be a society profoundly interested in the welfare of religious communities and one that realizes it needs religious insights." Williams said while delivering a lecture at the Cheltenham Literature Festival.
Williams discussed in detail how religious people fit into a secular society. While he said that faith perspectives are oft-times pushed out by secularists, he believes the religious must be given a seat at the table and recognize their proper role: being a part of debate, but not necessarily dictating the inevitable results, according to Christian Today.
What Williams advocated was for a middle group approach between a perspective that wants religion to be the basis of all laws and one in which faith isn't addressed at all outside of church doors.
The government's role in this case, then, is to facilitate discussions that ensure that minority views on controversial issues — or any issue at all for that matter — are considered in the wider discussion. Rather than winning the debate, per se, religious views help round it out, he argued.
"It really helps in a public debate, even if you lose the argument, to have certain principles embodied in it. The task of religious representatives is not to win the argument at all costs," Williams said. "It is to say, it needs to be this kind of argument rather than that one."
According to RadioTimes, Williams argued that religious broadcasting could help create and foster a deeper religious debate and potentially reframe the way in which the faithful engage with the state on issues of morality and the law.
"There are at least two ways of thinking about religious broadcasting. One would be rather propagandistic; just explaining where you are and why other people ought to believe it," Williams said. "But the other is perhaps more conversational. I'd certainly like to hear in religious broadcasting a proper discussion of some of these things with equipped, sophisticated religious spokespeople engaging."
Williams stepped down in 2013 as the head of the Church of England. His views on moral and legal issues are noteworthy, as religious individuals face similar dynamics in societies like Britain and the U.S., specifically when it comes to addressing complicated social issues.
(H/T: Christian Today)