Monday, 26 December 2016

Resurrecting The Courts Spiritual

Going Back to the Future

There is an old saying: what goes around comes around.  A second old saying is like unto it: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Trendy lefties in the UK think that Islamic sharia law is OK and that as long as all participants have voluntarily opted into sharia justice there is nothing wrong with it. Sharia courts and sharia justice is all about recognising a minority culture and its values.  It is about tolerance.  This sort of stuff sounds good over a chardonnay during a balmy summer evening on the pub veranda.

Having separate judicial systems is not new.  During the time of the First Christendom, a dual justice system operated.  There were the courts spiritual (or ecclesiastical), and the courts temporal  (or state courts).  The formal separation of the two legal systems goes back to William I.

So, we are re-entering that situation again in the West, but this time Islam is leading the way.  Moreover, this long established Islamic tradition has its secular supporters.  The Left are proposing and enthusiastically promoting sharia courts in the UK for Islamic people.  There's nothing wrong with it, we are told.


The Guardian (or, at least an anonymous writer published therein) has taken the view that claims of an authoritative role, authority, and influence of Sharia Law courts in the UK are a mendacity.  Since the Guardian piece is opinionated, and since the writer is not identified, it is reasonable to conclude that the views represent the editorial board of the Guardian.

There might be a bit of reference to Sharia Law in local Islamic community councils, but, hey, in no sense does it suggest a parallel legal system is operative.  Such an idea is scaremongering, to say the least; ignorant racism at worst.  But the reality is somewhat different.
The academic who wrote the articles following unprecedented access to Britain’s Shariah councils, Machteld Zee, noted earlier this year: “I object to [Shariah law] because these practices are contrary to the rights of women”.  She even noted, in a prescient nod to the Guardian: “Authors that I studied for my investigation were generally benevolent towards sharia courts. But guess what? None of them had ever attended a session of such a court. They don’t know what is happening there.

“Now they ask me to tell them all about it. Judges in these courts tell women to accept polygamy and to not to report domestic violence to the police. Violent fathers are given custody of their children. I get the impression that as these facts become known, the tide of the public debate is turning. I hardly hear anyone pleading in favour of sharia courts now.”
In any event, maybe this gives Christians the opportunity to opt out of the increasingly secular UK legal system and courts, and set up ecclesiastical courts once again.  Christians could then choose which legal system they wanted to participate in.  The Christian courts would exercise Christian judgement over marriage and family life, and all kinds of civil disputes.  The state would be required to avoid double jeopardy between the two legal systems and, if necessary, enforce the sentences and judgements of the Christian courts.

That would likely make William I smile:
William by the grace of God King of the English, to R. Bainard and G. de Magnavilla, and P. de Valoines, and to my other faithful ones of Essex and of Hertfordshire and of Middlesex, greeting. Know all of you and my ther faithful ones who remain in England, that in a common council and by the advice of the archbishops and bishops, and abbots, and of all the princes of my kingdom, I have decided that the episcopal laws, which up to my Rime in the kingdom of the English have not been right or "according to the precepts of the holy canons, shall be emended.

Wherefore I command, and by royal authority decree, that no bishop or archdeacon shall any longer hold, in the hundred court, pleas pertaining to the episcopal laws, nor shall they bring before the judgment of secular men any case which pertains to the rule of souls; but whoever shall be summoned, according to the episcopal laws, in any case or for any fault, shall come to the place which the bishop shall choose or name for this purpose, and shall there answer in his case or for his fault, and shall perform his law before God and his bishop not according to the hundred court, but according to the canons and the episcopal laws.

But if any one, elated by pride, shall scorn or be unwilling to come before the judgment seat of the bishop, he shall be summoned once and a second and a third time; and if not even then he come to make amends, he shall be excommunicated; and, if it be needful to give effect to this, the power and justice of the king or the sheriff shall be called in.  But he who was summoned before the judgment seat of the bishop shall, for each summons, pay the episcopal fine. This also I forbid and by my authority interdict, that any sheriff, or provost, or minister of the king, or any layman concern himself in the matter of laws which pertain to the bishop, nor shall any layman summon another man to judgment apart from the jurisdiction of the bishop. But judgment shall be passed in no place except within the episcopal see, or in such place as the bishop shall fix upon for this purpose.  [Avalon Project]
It's time to think about going back to the future.

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