Now it\’s history that Johann Hari doesn\’t understand

This statement rather surprised me:

But let\’s step back a moment and look at how all this came to pass. The bishops owe their places in parliament to a serial killer. Henry VIII filled parliament with bishops because they were willing to give a religious seal of approval to him divorcing and murdering his wives – and they have lingered on through the centuries since, bragging about their own moral superiority at every turn.

Yes, I know that \’Enery fixed the numbers of Lords Spiritual but I hadn\’t realised that he\’d increased them.

Wikipedia might not be the most accurate of sources but:

Early in England\’s history, Lords Spiritual—including lesser clergymen such as abbots—outnumbered Lords Temporal. Between 1536 and 1540, however, Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, thereby removing the seats of the abbots. For the first time and thereafter, Lords Spiritual formed a minority in the House of Lords.

Yes, that accords more with what I had floating around at the back of my mind. Henry reduced, not increased, the numbers of Lords Spiritual.

Some will see this as trivial but accuracy is important, don\’t you think?

In 2008, his successor, Rowan Williams, said it would be helpful if shariah law – with all its vicious misogyny, which says that women are worth half of a man – was integrated into British family courts.

Err, no he didn\’t actually. He said rather that given that Christians insist upon let outs from the unitary system of law on religious/moral grounds (like, for example, religious types not being forced to perform abortions, nor even train to do them while qualifying as a doctor or nurse) then how can we, should we, adapt or provide similar let outs for other relgious and moral traditions?

And given that it was part of a series of letures about Islam in English Law, sharia was an obvious example for him to be using. I\’m not hugely in favour of the beared wonder but that really is a smear from Hari.

Oh, and just for giggles, he says that Iran and the UK are the only places with churchmen, as of right, in the legislature. Not so: Isle of Man has the Bishop of Sodor and Man in the upper house as of right. And as one of 11 members, he\’s 9% of it, as opposed to the roughly 3% of the Lords (26 out of mebbe 800).

15 comments on “Now it\’s history that Johann Hari doesn\’t understand

  1. “Some will see this as trivial but accuracy is important, don’t you think?”
    Not to Johann – the man who interviewed terrorists who confessed to a murder that had never happened without realising it.

  2. “he says that Iran and the UK are the only places with churchmen, as of right, in the legislature…” Might’ve missed the vatican, too.

  3. “Henry VIII filled parliament with bishops because they were willing to give a religious seal of approval to him divorcing and murdering his wives – and they have lingered on through the centuries since, bragging about their own moral superiority at every turn.”

    Have these bishes discovered the elixir of eternal life?

  4. I think the difference is that after Henry they had to be Bishops rather than other clerical positions, isn’t it?

    So Henry limited the Lords Spiritual to solely Bishops, whereas before they could have been any of several different occupations.

    So factually accurate but perhaps a bit misleading if one reads it as intending to suggest Henry created the Lords Spiritual.

  5. Pity beheading is no longer the execution of choice. If it was, we wouldn’t have to put up with the ravings of the loon that is Johann Hari

  6. JuliaM – given Tim’s frequent responses to Richard Murphy, the logical inference from your comment is that we are going to see a lot more blogposts on Johann Hari.

  7. I find Hari fairly unctuous, but the gist of his point was correct.

    From the archbishopofcanterbury.org link you gave;

    Instead, in the interview, rather than proposing a parallel system of law, he observed that “as a matter of fact certain provisions of sharia are already recognised in our society and under our law” . When the question was put to him that: “the application of sharia in certain circumstances – if we want to achieve this cohesion and take seriously peoples’ religion – seems unavoidable?”, he indicated his assent.

    (With emphasis on the question regarding law and the word – assent, at the end there)

    Hari’s quote which you use: “Rowan Williams, said it would be helpful if shariah law – with all its vicious misogyny, which says that women are worth half of a man – was integrated into British family courts”

    (With emphasis on the helpful in the first line)

    I’m linking the words assent and helpful and I rationalize them to be compatible to that singular point he was making. You have parsed both Hari & Williams and come up with an argument that suits your preconceived view of the journalist. I have parsed your article and believe the references you provide on the most pertinent part of this article seem to prove him innocent.

    My personal beef with the dude (Hari) is that I cannot identify with him, he represents the right-on, worthy, righteously indignated, so called progressives (Tories in all but name, but with no balls to admit it) who were idealogicaly opposed to our government before the coalition even started with policy. 80′s revisionists who couldnt give a damn about the poor or needy of their own country (There’s millions of working class votes up for grabs for the Tories if they play their cards right).

    P.S Any links to some meaty criticisms of Hari would be nice, this is fluff adds nothing to any genuine arguments against the man.

  8. Luke, you obviously don’t understand conservatism at all. It’s not the poor and needy with whom the Conservatives have a problem, it’s the bone idle.

  9. @Henry

    I’m not saying Conservatives have a problem with the poor and needy (certainly not like Labour), its just that for the last 30-odd years, the poor, needy, working class have definitely had a problem with Tories.

    Calling people bone idle is a rather lazy, polarizing, and I would say, smelly pre-Major way of describing your view of Conservatism, certainly not in line with whats happening in the new Blair Tory party. I can only assume you have been in a coma for 20 years (13 of which you spent in desperate opposition), and suggest you catch up before posting on internet discussion forums any further.

  10. Does Andorra count too?

    “The Principality was formed in 1278. The role of monarch is exercised jointly by the two co-princes, the President of the French Republic and the Bishop of Urgell, Catalonia, Spain.”

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