I am preparing a talk on “Accepting pluralism in a secular society’ for presentation at this weekend’s Interfaith Forum. Hence my current interest in these issues.
Carrying on from my last post, Defeat for imposed prayer, this video shows a discussion on UK TV about the judgement on the Christian prayers in the Bideford Town Council official meetings.
It just demonstrates the difficulty of arguing these issues across the theological divide. Obviously they can be dealt with more efficiently in court.
“Fighting for faith”
Now Baroness Warsi, the UK’s first Muslim cabinet Minister who is also chairman of the Conservative Party Tory Party, has chipped in. Attacking “militant secularism” which she describes as”deeply intolerant” and “denying people the right to a religious identity”.
She is off to the Vatican for talks with Pope Benny and has declared We stand side by side with the Pope in fighting for faith.
Somehow conservative religionists in the UK have misread the Bideford Town Council legal discussion. it did not rule Christian prayer illegal, just that it should not be part of an official council meeting. Those so inclined could pray as much as they wanted before the meeting opened.
But this has stopped such people claiming martyrdom. Yes, that and words like marginilisation are being bandied around. But in reality what is upsetting these people is not marginilsation – just that they iare in danger of losing some of their priveliges. Andrew Copson from the British humanist Associal=tion respond to Warsi’s article with a series of twitter comments:
Signs Britain being taken over by militant secularisation
- No 1: there’re more state-funded religious schools than ever before
- No 2: more public services contracted 2 relig groups than ever before
- No 3: we remain the only western state with clerics in the legislature
- No 4: first PM in recent history to publicly call UK Christian country
- No 5: 1st Muslim woman in govt at Vatican at public expense 2 see Pope
‘Census Christians’ don’t support their militant leaders
Mind you – these militant whinging religious leaders are very vocal – but how much support do they have.? Survey results released today suggest not as much as you would think. The Ipsos MORI research, commissioned by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science UK (RDFRS UK), shows (among other things):
- 73% of ‘census Christians’ strongly agree or tend to agree that religion should not have a special influence on public policy
- 92% of ‘census Christians’ support the statement that the law should apply to everyone equally, regardless of religion
- 78% of ‘census Christians’ say Christianity would have no, or not very much, influence on how they vote in General Elections
- 61% of ‘census Christians’ agree that gay people should have the same legal rights in all aspects of their lives as heterosexual people
- 62% of ‘census Christians’ support the right of a woman to abortion within the legal time limit
- Only 23% of ‘census Christians’ believe that sex is only acceptable within marriage.
As Andrew Copson, commented:
‘There is clearly a vast gulf between the views of what we might call “census Christians” and the politicians, politicised Bishops and Christian lobby groups that claim to speak on their behalf.”