“The new Archbishop of Westminster has launched an attack on secularists, warning that they threaten to undermine society in Britain.” New Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols attacks secularists – Telegraph.
In the face of all evidence, we are STILL having, this broken (and very old) record played at us. He claims that secularists -we who hold the horrific idea that religions have neither priority over each other, or authority over the state – are encouraging intolerance. Pardon me, but that is not only utterly untrue, but intolerant in itself. We question publicly, we are not apologetic about our disbelief, and we critique that same dogma when it intrudes in public life but that is our right. It is not the right or the place of the religious to dictate to any of us (believers included) what we may and may not question.
Believed religion to be the force which bound society, rather than saw it for the divisive tool of control that it has always been.
I have never been, and nor will I ever be an advocate of the vapid non-arguments from Emile Durkheim. He believed that in ‘simple societies’ people must follow strict mechanical adherence to specific routines and rules or society could be in danger (He would fit right in with some modern-day conservatives.) and that the society’s needs are too pressing and complex for individuals to be allowed to think for themselves and decide which practices to follow. These ‘simple societies’ were generally polytheistic in nature but I would certainly not regard Ancient Egypt as a ‘simple society’ . He did have to acknowledge though, that as a community expands, and it’s needs become even more complex and diverse, it is impossible for everyone to follow the same set of rules and rituals as the social system will stagnate and become unworkable. It is far more useful, then, for society as a whole to follow a more generalised code of behaviour (modern laws) that can be adapted according to the given situation. This has the added effect of diversifying and diluting religious beliefs. The move toward secularism in Britain is not only a natural social phenomenon, but has become a requirement for social cohesion and the survival of our species as a whole. With the rise of the internet and the ability to now freely converse with people on the other side of the globe, the world has become a far smaller place, and as the Borg of the Star Trek universe are so fond of saying, we must adapt.
“Faith is never a solitary activity nor can it be simply private,”
So this Bishop believes that shoving religion into the lives of others, and enforcing a set doctrine on society as a whole is a right of believers and that we who do not believe must simply put up with it? It is not just a proposition that faith and reason are opposed by the vulgarities of blind faith and doctrine, it is a point of fact. A dangerous fact. The only entity which inhibits free dialogue and inquiry, is faith followed closely by a blind loyalty to that faith. Evidence and reason are the vital tools of a fulfilling life, and not unquestioning obedience. Secularism is the concept that government or other entities should exist separately from religion and/or religious beliefs but it is worth noting that secularism is not the same as atheism. Secularists are characteristically broad-minded and we do not embrace any set theology. Nor do we claim to be in possession of all the answers, be the favoured people of a supreme being (and people say that atheists are arrogant) or be in any way above those who disagree with us. When it comes to not listening, the blame cannot be laid at the door of secularists and atheists but this is not what the good bishop means. What he desires is a culture where the blind-faithful can sermonise and pontificate without obstruction or query. He does not care about the torrent of abuse and intolerance exhibited in the past by, and in some cases from, the media.
“Some today propose that faith and reason are crudely opposed, with the fervour of faith replacing good reason. This reduction of both faith and reason inhibits not only our search for truth but also the possibility of real dialogue.”
Religion is not immune to criticism and it is about time these clerics and ministers ceased behaving like spoiled brats and realised that the world has moved on from the dark ages. Religion may have leant individual people certain comfort in trying times, it may have been enough to inspire a few good intentions. This is NOT enough to atone for nearly two thousand years of death, war, destruction, intolerance, persecution, slavery and suffering caused and driven by the tenets of those religions and by differences of opinion over theological interpretation. This is the equivalent of going to war over an argument about the gingerbread house from Hansel and Gretel. Where reason and logic have failed ridicule is now the next course of action against the religion inspired bigotry which pollutes the world today. Religious leaders and priests are known to be violating the law by telling people how to vote come election day. One has even advocated a violent revolt against the US government. I say remove their tax-free status. Make it clear to these people who put collars they have so willingly placed around their necks (with a leash which stretches back to their recalcitrant owner in Rome) does NOT grant them immunity from the law.
Christianity is not known for its progressive outlook or ideas. Mr Nichols, himself played an active and leading role against allowing gay couples to adopt children. Thankfully, it is now illegal for adoption agencies to discriminate against applicants on the basis of sexuality. He sees secularism as an enemy to be feared and fought and he is not alone in his hatred; not by far.
Archbishop Nichols claimed that the country would benefit from maintaining faith at the centre of public life, adding that it would help build a more cohesive society.
“As a society, if we are to build on this gift of faith, we must respect its outward expression not only in honouring individual conscience but also in respecting the institutional integrity of the communities of faith in what they bring to public service and to the common good.
Probably the most revealing part of this article is the couched refusal to admit to his own bigotry but also that he regards that religion should be made public. What next, Bishop? Frog marching people into church? What about all the Sikhs, Buddhists and Hindus who do not share your personal brand of faith? One thing I will say in their defence, is that you rarely get a Sikh, Hindu or Buddhist, threatening to kill you for ‘disrespecting’ their religion, halting the progress of medical science, or attempting to alter the constitution of a secular nation, in the name of their god or religion. This man doesn’t mean general faith, he means institutionalist Christianity; an outright assault on personal choice and freedom to believe as one chooses. He ignores the social division that religious faith causes. The Anglican church is at its core, and despite all pretences, Catholic. The only real difference between the two is the leader they look to for authority, so why should we be expected to applaud any form of concession or reconciliation?
“Earlier, the new Archbishop risked controversy on his first day in office when he said a report exposing decades of systematic child abuse by Catholic priests and nuns in Ireland would “overshadow” the good they had done.”
Decades!? Try centuries! The Catholic Church cares only about the Catholic Church, their own advancement, the loss of their authority over the world and especially in developed nations, and their reputation. They care nothing for the thousands of children abused and betrayed by those they had been expected to trust. It did not take courage for people to come forward over their crimes. It is a point of fact that the church, under John Paul II, only acknowledged it WAS a crime (rather than just a sin) in 2002! In 1962, the Holy Office instructions for dealing with cases of abuse went to extraordinary lengths to ensure secrecy rather than secure justice. The complaint must be made by the victim within thirty days of the attack and failure to do so would result in the VICTIM’S automatic excommunication. The perpetrator was then moved to another diocese with no warning to the parishioners. Both victim and perpetrator were ordered to observe complete secrecy. So, no I don’t believe their crocodile tears. They are only sorry that thanks to the Guathe case, in 1983, when the victim’s family did not give into bullying, other victims and their families have now had the courage to take their cases to the proper authorities and will not be shamed into keeping quiet.
“It is a moral stance, and he should say that it is all about the children and the rest of them be damned. There are no excuses for religious orders.” - Michele Elliott, chief executive of the charity Kidscape
- Beyond Belief – David Yallop
- Sociology for Dummies.