Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Marginalising Faith

Faith is currently under attack as never before. Even during the Roman Empire period it was tolerated, more or less, though the Romans exterminated the Druids in Gaul and Britain and the Carthaginians and one or two other peoples and their religions, usually because they indulged in human sacrifices. Christianity was a convenient scape goat under Nero and his successors, but that changed once the seat of government moved and Constantine became the Emperor. Sadly, once it became the "State" religion, the rich, powerful and politically ambitious managed to get control, and imposed a level of intolerance in complete denial of the real message of the Gospels.

Post the Rennaissance and the Reformation things did get a bit better, but the churches remained a means to power for the rich and powerful until the advent of the 20th Century. By then "science" had become the "new" religion and the "Old Order" was rapidly being replaced by the technocrats and thinkers who have built a "New World Order" which they claim requires no religions and no belief in anything other than the ability of mankind to take care of himself and to discover everything by the application of science and reason. The rich and powerful have cheerfully abandoned the churches and now worship exclusively at the new temples of 24/7 trading and shopping. Morality based on religious teaching is portrayed as "brainwashing" or "bigoted" and replaced with a new code in which anything is acceptable, except that which is "offensive" to the cogniscenti and celebrity chattering classes who parade their prejudices as "moral principles."

Among these prejudices is any form of religious faith. Baroness Warsi, leading a delegation currently on an official visit to the Vatican, makes some strong points about this. I do find it extremely ironic that the Richard Dawkins Foundation is campaigning for an outright ban on all public worship and a complete exclusion of any form of faith from any part of public life - yet his salary, and no doubt a large part of his wealth, was paid and is still paid out of Trusts set up since the foundation of the University College of which he is a professor, by people who were proud to be Christian and practiced their faith publicly. Recent court cases show there is good reason to be concerned about the activiies of these crusading secularists and atheists.

A recent court case brought against Bideford Council by an ex-councillor is just one example of the vicious and mean spirited approach these folk are prepared to use. Claiming that the opening of the council's meetings with prayers "breached his human rights" the National Secular Society brought a case to the High Court. Sadly the Judge, found in their favour, though not on the "Human Rights." Instead he found that the Local Government Act contained "no provision for religious expressions" and ruled that prayers before meetings were therefore "unlawful." He at least had the grace to admit that his finding "created serious problems for every public body and organisation." Frankly the fool should be put out to pasture. Hopefully the Appeal Court will throw his judgement out, but given the quality and sentiments of our Justices at present, I don't think this miracle is likely. The idea that I need legal permission to pray is offensive in the extreme. Why does this matter require a permission in the law? This has always been a matter for local choice and decision and Bideford twice voted by a majority to 1 to retain the prayers at the opening of their meetings.

Then there is the case of a couple who operated a B & B. They lost a case brought by a Gay couple they had refused accommodation to as it ofended their religious principles. It is interesting to note they were Christian, I cannot help but wonder if the judge would have dared to make the ruling he did had the couple been Muslim. Somehow I think not, but that is another issue. Now the couple have also lost their appeal. Apparently someone's "rights" take precedence over anyone else's "right" to hold a particular religious stance or belief. Now I will admit that on this particular issue I am ambivalent, largely because I do believe that the teaching of the church on this issue is misunderstood, misrepresented and needs to be rethought in the light of modern medical understanding of sexuality. However, I do find the current extremely virulent and sometimes offensive campaigning by the 3-4% of the population who are Gay or Lesbian and their demands that everyone accept their sometimes deliberately offensive displays of their sexuality impinges on my and everyone elses "right" not to have to endure it.

I grew up in a legal system that allowed a proprietor of a shop, hotel, restuarant, cinema, etc., to have a notice over the door which said "Right of Admission Reserved." Everyone knew it meant that theowner had the right to deny entry to those who might be unruly or conduct themselves in an unseemly manner, and it was rarely, to my knowledge used. It would seem to me that it is time to give propietors this right in Britain. Further, to allow them to make plain the matters they would consider exercising that right. Yes, that may introduce some forms of "discrimination" but we also have to recognise that society only functions properly when we recognise everyone else's right to conduct their lives in accordance with their beliefs. And yes, I do know that means accepting that I will be offended from time to time. This is, perhaps, where the whole "Human Rights" stampede has gone to far. No one has ever had a right to not be offended.

When the poorly drafted Human Rights Act was launched there were numerous warnings that the implications had not been properly considered from legal experts far more competent than either the MPs responsible or the Prime Minister and his Barrister wife. Now we see why they were ignored, this ghastly Act actually removed more "rights" than it gives and is the perfect vehicle for the likes of the Secularists who seek to destroy all forms of faith in public life. It is being used to marginalise anyone and everyone who dares to profess and faith on the grounds of "offensive" symbols or utterances. It is used to "prove" that anyone of faith is bigoted and biased and it is being used to prevent families from sharing their faith with their children.

Perhaps one of the biggest ironies I have seen recently was an article by an Australian Atheist professor stating that Atheists, Humanists and Secularists need to learn from Christianity how to give people the means to "step out of their responsibilities" and "become children" so that they can find relaxation and repose from their daily lives. Sounds remarkably like he's proposing creating a new religion. Of course, his proposals to remove religious education (he called it indoctrination) from schools and public life, and replace it with teaching of "rational thinking" and "secular morality." That sounds like indoctrination to me.

Baroness Warsi is right to warn of the militant secularists attempting to "take over Britain." We ignore her warning at our own peril.


  1. What you have described is a revolution. It has been going on for at least a couple of decades. Militant minorities are dictating their terms to the rest of society, and I think it is time to pause and reflect the consequences of those changes. They generally carry out this revolution by stealth, and are quite prepared to bypass accepted democratic process to achieve their aims. It's not just secularists. Add in Marxists, radical feminists, and the liberal left in general. What they have in common is that they are determined to unpick the glue that has held society together for centuries, and replace it with their New World Order. We are already in the Post Democratic Age.

  2. I fear that what we have here is a very similar dichotomy to that discussed under "freedom of speech" some days ago. We are discussing relative freedoms. I believe that freedom of expression and freedom of belief are important cornerstones of society and that compulsion is anathema. However, true freedom of speech , action or faith is available nowhere in the world that we inhabit. The Monk phrases the argument in terms of faith, the Slim one in terms of revolutionary politics, I would tend to use cold logic.

    As true and complete freedom is unavailable and truly undesirable, we must look at the nature of relativity. Relative freedom to believe and express oneself is, in the author's opinion highly desirable, to fight against compulsion is also desirable. So how do we carry out an assessment of the desirability of relative freedom. I would suggest that the Monk's memory is dimming if in South Africa the reservation of 'Right of Admission' was not used, I suspect for most of his life there it was indeed used by some if not many to prevent blacks from entering white shops. At what stage does the "relative freedom" become undesirable discrimination?

    One of the fundamental foundations of the great monotheistic religions is the concept of "Good and Evil", where on the dividing line does one become the other? How do we assess this? I belive that the answer is in morality. I have Aristotles "Politics" and "Ethics" on the bookshelf to my right, he discusses the problems, but provides no solutions. May I raise a question for consideration?

    Is our contemporay politics ethical?

    Then a follow-up; what rights can a citizen demand?

    I agree with most of what the Monk says in his article and I believe that the "Human Rights" issue is now used to compel, and I abhor compulsion. This does affect faith, although it cannot affect belief, my point is that it affect much more than faith, it affects the freedoms of the citizen.

  3. Interestingly, the "Right of Admission Reserved" could have been used that way, and may well have been in some places, but where I grew up we rubbed shoulders with people of all races in these shops. Admittedly, in the more expensive ones you saw very few black shoppers, but that was, I suspect, economics rather than any refusal of admission. There were certainly no guards at the doors of even the most expensive shops turning people away, which is something I've seen in one European country and in the Philippines.

  4. In the UK, we used to have signs in guest houses stating, 'No Dogs, blacks or Irish'. Totally unacceptable nowadays, and rightly so. However, 'mission creep' is something we need to be vigilant about, because it won't be too long before we have 'paedophiles welcome', or some other nonsense. Jesting of course, but the current case regarding the deportation (or not) of Abu Qatada demonstrates that the pendulum has swung too far. Josephus is right that the 'HR issue' is used to compel, and I would add that the 'Equality & Diversity' Brigade have created a kind of Neo-Apartheid, with its own hierarchy of rights, yet devolving responsibilities to those who oversee such matters.