Koran coronation: Ex-bishop draws fire
The Church of England has been accused of ‘losing confidence’ in its own institutions and traditions following a suggestion yesterday by Lord Harries of Pentregarth – a former Bishop of Oxford – that a Koran reading be included in Prince Charles’ coronation.
According to The Royal Fans website, Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute think-tank said:
Most people will be amazed at the idea that a Christian leader would consider the use of the Koran at a Christian service in a Christian abbey. People are just so disappointed when senior Church of England figures lose confidence in the claims of the Christian faith.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, a member of the C of E’s parliament, the General Synod, and head of the Christian Concern pressure group, added:
At a time when we are looking at what British values mean, we cannot have values in a vacuum. British values stem from our Christian heritage. We cannot pretend all religions are the same, or have the same benefits and outcomes for the nation.
Douglas Murray, associate editor of the Spectator, said if Muslims were included in the coronation service, there must be room too for Hindus, Sikhs, and atheists.
If there were to be a reading from the Koran at the coronation, surely as a matter of reciprocity, all mosques in the UK should have prayers for the King and the Armed Forces every week at Friday prayers.
The gesture would be a “creative act of accommodation” to make Muslims feel “embraced” by the nation, Lord Harries explained, and said he was sure Charles’s coronation would give scope to leaders of non-Christian religions to give their blessing to the new King.
Harries, who continues to serve as an assistant bishop in the diocese of Southwark, made the suggestion about the Koran during a House of Lords debate. He told peers the Church of England should take the lead in “exercising its historic position in a hospitable way”.
He said that at a civic service in Bristol Cathedral last year authorities had agreed to a reading of the opening passage of the Koran before the beginning of the Christian ritual. He said:
It was a brilliant creative act of accommodation that made the Muslim high sheriff feel, as she said, warmly embraced but did not alienate the core congregation. That principle of hospitality can and should be reflected in many public ceremonies, including the next coronation service.
Lord Harries’ suggestion came more than 20 years after the Prince first said he would prefer to be seen as “Defender of Faith” rather than be known by the monarch’s title of “Defender of the Faith”.
Charles said in 1994 he:
Always felt the Catholic subjects of the sovereign are equally as important as the Anglican ones, as the Protestant ones. Likewise, I think that Islamic subjects, or the Hindu subjects, or the Zoroastrian subjects of the sovereign, are of equal and vital importance.
Hat tip: Marcus Robinson