'The worst report I've ever read'


The world is confronted by a terrible evil. The evil is not Islam but the architects of the terror are building their temples out of the stolen bricks of this great religion.  

This is a problem facing everyone in the country at the moment - teachers, journalists, clergy, mosques, churches, synagogues, humanists, Muslims, Christians. Everyone. We need to confront Islamophobia, of course, but we also need to confront the truth of what is happening. 

As one of those called to give evidence to the Commission on Religion and Belief in Public Life, I was deeply honoured. I was doing jury service at the time, and the judge in our trial at the Central Criminal Courts suspended the trial so I could attend. I should have declined the invitation and not wasted our court's time. Rarely have I been so disappointed by a work of the "great and the good".

The commission sat for two years at Westminster Central Hall. Some of the most eminent people in the country were involved, in both hearing the evidence, as patrons and as witnesses. It sounds grand, but as the Christian Legal Centre has pointed out, it should not be confused with a public commission as it was privately-appointed.  

The report's title sounds good: Living with Difference: Community, Diversity and the Common Good. But it reads like something that could have been written a decade ago, or before 9/11. Learning to live with our differences is indeed a problem right now but the answer is not to try to excise these differences from the places where they are manifest, such as in faith schools, or the House of Lords. 

We should not be undermining the place of Christianity in Britain, we should be building it up. We have solid foundations for our society, built on a Judeo-Christian understanding of law: "Dieu et mon droit". Our society needs to recover its confidence in the value of the Ten Commandments. It needs to return to the truth of teachings such as the Sermon on the Mount, to propagate the centuries of deeply-thought through wisdom of monks and mystics, rabbis and scribes.

Books such as Lapido Media's new Media Guide to the Caliphate are more helpful in today's context than what this commission has published. It is an exercise in flawed thinking and misunderstanding, a wasted opportunity and a terrible, terrible shame.