Five Question for UK vicar in British Industrial Heartland .........
Reverend Graham Sawyer (pictured) is well known in New Zealand as a BBC commentator, educator, and cleric. He is now a vicar currently based in the north of England. He now answers our Five Questions ....
1. You have been a Parliamentary candidate -and now you are a man of the cloth. Is the approach to religious extremism by the various authorities the correct one?
No. The response has been to create a climate of fear and to suggest that the "government" is protecting us. In fact, the cause of extremism is flawed foreign policy and economic colonialism e.g. the meddling in the Middle East by Blair and Bush. Rather than seeking to look at the causes of extremism the response by governments is to fuel the fear caused by extremists and thereby seek to give pseudo-legitimacy to the Western governments' failed foreign policies.
2. There is this constant call from leaders of all stripe to separate the terrorism from the underpinning religion?
The vast majority of people of faith are peace-loving and have peace at the centre of their religion. Terrorists of any kind will always take refuge in a book to justify their behaviours e.g. a religious or political text. Modern day fascists in Germany revert to Hitler's writings as much as some revolutionary Communists will revert to Marx. Those with a religious background will use a religious book for similar although dishonest purposes.
3. It is said that the three religions of the book at various historical times endure the throes of some kind of extremism or such zealotry. Are we witnessing this kind of surge now?
We are but it is always present. Think of the Crusades and also Christian biblical justifications from St Paul's writings for resisting the abolition of slavery. Christians have killed far more Muslims than the other way round in the name of Christianity. All religions of the book have parts of their scriptures that can easily be turned to give false legitimacy to extremist behaviour.
4. Do you go along with the theory that the present convulsions, now so evident on the streets of Western cities, represent in effect a striving for religious purity, pretty much regardless of where the victims originated, or, indeed, of their religion?
No. The real problem is the resurgence of nationalism as a result of frustrations with globalisation and austerity concomitant with the failure of capitalism. Think of the Treaty of Versailles after the First World War and the huge reparations inflicted upon Germany - these were the seeds of the Nazi rise to power. See today with the resurgence of fascism in Greece. So-called religious purity comes and goes but is often used by political opportunists.
5. Do you go along with the notion that Western governments are hampered in this matter, whatever its cause, by their need to appease their own doctrinal left wings?
No. Capitalism is the driving force. The un-elected European Union bureaucrats and economists dictate everything and it is the same in other developed countries (New Zealand is a very extreme example). The failure of their policies is causing the potential disintegration of the EU and the resurgence of nationalism and hence fascism in the West e.g. Greece, Hungary etc.