The Archbishop of Canterbury prompted anger yesterday by putting Muslim veils on an equal footing with Christian crosses.
Britain’s most senior churchman, Dr Williams, said talk of banning the full-face niqab reminded him of China, where the state controls all religious life. He said: “The ideal of a society where no visible public signs of religion would be seen – no crosses around necks, no sidelocks, turbans or veils – is a politically dangerous one.”
But Stephen Green, the national director of fundamentalist group Christian Voice, said Dr Williams appeared to be ranking Islam alongside Christianity. He said: “We Christians should be more ready to stand up and be counted. We have to say that our faith is a world view and it’s not just something we do on a Sunday.”
Alison Ruoff, a member of the CofE General Synod, said: “The Archbishop should be standing up for the Christian faith in a much more visible way. He should be making a more public stand for Christianity and not for other religions.” Roy McCloughry, director of evangelical think-tank the Kingdom Trust, said: “The veil is not a religious issue – it is a cultural issue.”
Terry Sanderson, vice-president of the National Secular Society, which campaigns against all religious interference in non-believers’ lives, said: “Minority religions are now demanding a place at the table. Dr Williams is using phony arguments. Comparing ministers’ criticism of veils in Britain with what goes on in China is ridiculous. He’s running a hare that does not exist. There is no ban on veils in this country.”