Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Religion’s place in government

Robert Winnet writes in the Telegraph:

In an historic visit to the Vatican, Baroness Warsi will express her “fear” about the marginalisation of religion throughout Britain and Europe, saying that faith needs “a seat at the table in public life”.

That. Right there.

Bringing religion into public life can only possibly mean trying to impose your beliefs on other people and force them to behave how you want. These beliefs, of course, have nothing to do with what’s actually objectively good for people; it’s all about unsupported nonsensical myth, usually very antagonistic toward large numbers of people.  When governments get involved in religion, the result is always the same: conflict, discrimination, suffering, all because of some footling differences between sets of nonsensical rules based on things that aren’t true anyway.

The minister, who is also chairman of the Conservative Party, says: “My fear today is that a militant secularisation is taking hold of our societies. We see it in any number of things: when signs of religion cannot be displayed or worn in government buildings; and where religion is sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere.

It is not militant to demand that one’s government treat everyone fairly. All we want is for government to stop taking people’s idiotic beliefs seriously and treat everyone the same.  That’s militant? 

I hate how apologists always try to turn the argument back on us: every one of the incidents I’ve seen where religious jewellery has supposedly been banned from the workplace has turned out to be….quite the reverse.  It hasn’t been about intolerance of religious iconography, but a blanket ban on jewellery which includes crucifixes and Stars of David and so on.  It’s the religious who are demanding special treatment, not atheists. 

There have also been recent cases of public sector workers being banned from displaying Christian symbols at work.

Oh really?  What are those cases? Are there any cases or is this just something that ‘everyone knows’?  I suspect very strongly that these ‘cases’ will entirely evaporate under the slightest scrutiny,

“For me, one of the most worrying aspects about this militant secularisation is that at its core and in its instincts it is deeply intolerant. It demonstrates similar traits to totalitarian regimes – denying people the right to a religious identity because they were frightened of the concept of multiple identities.”

Warsi paints a pretty horrible picture of atheists while at the same time preaching tolerance.  She doesn’t seem to understand the contradiction.  I don’t know a single atheist who’s intolerant of religion. We tolerate it all time time.  We don’t care at all if people want to worship imaginary gods. We just don’t want those beliefs to dictate how we live our lives. And we’re the intolerant ones?  We’re the ones advocating totalitarian regimes?  We’re the ones who are frightened? By “religious identity”, Warsi seems to mean the ability to impose views, not the ability to possess them.

David Cameron welcomed the visit. He said: “Our relationship with the Holy See is an important one.”

Why?  What would we lose if the relationship were to suddenly end? I can’t see how even Catholics would be affected in the slightest and the rest of us would probably benefit. We wouldn’t have to pay for any more popes to visit, for one thing.

“You cannot extract Christian foundations from the evolution of our nations any more than you can erase the spires from our landscape,” she will say in her speech.

And nobody wants to.  Nobody denies that there’s a tradition of Christianity in the UK. It doesn’t mean we have to take it seriously now.

“Where, in the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury, faith is looked down as the hobby of 'oddities, foreigners and minorities’. Where religion is dismissed as an eccentricity because it’s infused with tradition.”

Not because it is infused with tradition.  Because it is stupid.

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