Dr Williams has stirred up a hornets nest over his statements about the possibility of Sharia law in the UK. It is perhaps easy to dismiss him, but I think what he is talking about is using some sort of community arbitration, in certain situations, and the state recognising the rights of religious minorities. He is not arguing for the stoning of adultresses.
In the article below he sites the situation of Catholics and adoption by homosexual couples. I know of Muslims who have difficulties reconciling certain aspects of financial law and what the Qu'ran says about usury. I suspect the real problem is simply that we have far too much intervention by the state in the lives of individuals and far too many laws.
When a society loses common values it begins to break down the tendency of governments is always to use the law as a sticking plaster to keep it together. Increasingly in the UK our government is imposing on Christians and Moslems alike a morality that is alien to both groups and contrary to the Natural Law
......... We don't either want a situation where, because there's no way of legally monitoring what communities do... people do what they like in private in such a way that that becomes another way of intensifying oppression inside a community."
The issue of whether Catholic adoption agencies would be forced to accept gay parents under equality laws showed the potential for legal confusion, he said.
"That principle that there is only one law for everybody is an important pillar of our social identity as a western democracy," he said.
"But I think it is a misunderstanding to suppose that means people don't have other affiliations, other loyalties which shape and dictate how they behave in society and that the law needs to take some account of that."
'Custom and community'
Dr Williams noted that Orthodox Jewish courts already operated, and that the law accommodated the anti-abortion views of some Christians.
"The whole idea that there are perfectly proper ways the law of the land pays respect to custom and community, that's already there," he said.
People may legally devise their own way to settle a dispute in front of an agreed third party as long as both sides agree to the process.
Muslim Sharia courts and the Jewish Beth Din which already exist in the UK come into this category.
The country's main Beth Din at Finchley in north London oversees a wide range of cases including divorce settlements, contractual rows between traders and tenancy disputes.