.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Those pesky militants

It is difficult to know how to respond to claims by Conservative Party Chair, Baroness Warsi, that British society is under threat from a rising tide of “militant secularisation” reminiscent of “totalitarian regimes”. It all seems to be a bit over-the-top to me and very unBritish.

Her argument appears to be that this 'militant secularisation' is taking hold because signs of religion cannot be displayed or worn in government buildings and religion is sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere. She says:

“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.”

To me, none of this rings true. The British state has been separated from religion for centuries. Apart from the anachrionism that the monarch remains the defender of the faith, religion has no place in civic society and nor should it. People deserve to be governed and judged on merit not on their beliefs. To suggest otherwise is alien to our way of life.

No serious person is seeking to prevent an individual holding and practising their beliefs. Whether you are catholic, protestant, muslim, sikh, buddhist, atheist or a jedi, we live in a tolerant society which enables you to be as religious as you like or vice versa, providing that you do not use your beliefs as a justification to break the law or to infringe other people's rights. That is how it should be.

That is reflected in the Telegraph's own unscientific on-line poll in which, at the time of writing, half of those participating have expressed the view that secularisation is not a threat to this country.

In addition the paper itself reports on a poll, conducted for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (UK), which suggests that almost three quarters (74 per cent) of the Christians polled agreed that religion should not influence public policy, while only about one in eight (12 per cent) thought it should. It also found that 92 per cent of Christians agreed the law should apply to everyone equally, regardless of their personal religious beliefs.

The real danger is when religion becomes an intrinsic part of government. At that point policy decisions become less objective and more intolerant. I do not object to Ministers having deeply-felt views and even expressing them publicly, but their first duty is to the country and the electorate and they should not forget that.
The monarch, the unelected head of state, has to be a communicant member of the Church of England, still established, and part of the state apparatus, with twenty-six of its bishops legislating ex-officio in the Lords.

England is the only nation in the UK which has a state church, with its attendant privileges over other faiths, and those of no faith at all. It can’t be disestablished without undermining the entire constitutional fabric.

England's unwritten constitution has evolved haphazardly and badly into the nebulous uncontrollable monster it has become today, embodied in the sovereignty of the Crown in Parliament. It perpetuates a corrupt undemocratic elite in power from generation to generation and is beyond reform. A century has passed since 1911, and we still have an unelected second legislative chamber. Even under Clegg's reforms, if they ever are realised, a non-elected element will remain, despite an overwhelming vote to the contrary in the Commons.

The system is sick, far removed from the people who pay the taxes to keep it in existence, and who cannot vote to be rid of it.

I'm not surprised that many Scots want out so that they can build a fairer more equal society. I wish them every success in that venture, and hope that one day, in the not too distant future the people of Wales will have the temerity to follow.

The people of England are less fortunate, I fear they will be saddled with it in perpetuity.

The relationship of church and state is but one facet of a much deeper and more disturbing top-down malaise.
The noble lady, who is also chair of the Tory party, is just making a political appeal for support from the picturesque chocolate box, village green, dainty little church community of the home counties of England. It's a nice fantasy, but it really exposes the crisis of confidence and credibility that the Tories are going through. There are local council elections on the horizon in parts of England so don't be too surprised at seeing political figures going out letter picking, kissing babies, tea with vicar, and buttered scones at the village hall. Such a cute representation of English culture. Will she be a guest on 'Songs of Praise' to get in a suitable soundbite? It's rather demeaning for politicians to play the 'faith' card.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?