Religion Shouldn't Be Treated as Just an Option, Says Anglican

Archbishop of Canterbury Delivers Major Interfaith Lecture

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LONDON, JUNE 15, 2003 ( In his first lecture on interreligious dialogue as Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams challenged some assumptions about relations between faith communities and between religions and secular society.

The primate of the Anglican Communion warned policy-makers in particular against treating religion as a separate and subordinate sphere of life.

He criticized the secular tendency to view religion as «a subdivision of human activity which belongs among the optional extras, after you have attended to the clear imperatives of nonreligious public life.»

Williams, who spoke Wednesday at the University of Birmingham, also addressed some of the challenges religions face among themselves and in relation to secularized society.

He appealed to religious traditions «to be clearer about the true nature and extent of their differences,» a statement issued by the Anglican Communion reported.

The archbishop of Canterbury called for a clearer appreciation and understanding of «the very significant disagreements about the kind of universe we inhabit, what that universe makes possible for human beings, and what is the most truthful or adequate or even sane way of behaving in the universe.»

He added: «Once we are clearer about the nature and scope of religious disagreement, we are actually more rather than less likely to develop a respectful and collaborative practice in interfaith relations.»

The archbishop believes that faith schools could play an important role in that process, which should bring together different religious traditions to collaborate and give meaning to the world.

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