Militant secularisation threat to religion, says Warsi

Baroness Warsi, co-chairman of the Conservative Party Baroness Warsi has previously raised the issue of Islamophobia with Pope Benedict XVI

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Britain is under threat from a rising tide of "militant secularisation", a cabinet minister has warned.

Religion is being "sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere", Conservative co-chairwoman Baroness Warsi wrote in an article for the Daily Telegraph.

The Muslim peer said Europe needed to become "more confident and more comfortable in its Christianity".

She also highlighted the issue in a speech at the Vatican on Tuesday.

She wrote in the Telegraph that "to create a more just society, people need to feel stronger in their religious identities and more confident in their creeds".

"In practice this means individuals not diluting their faiths and nations not denying their religious heritages."

Baroness Warsi, who is Britain's first female Muslim cabinet minister, went on to write: "You cannot and should not extract these Christian foundations from the evolution of our nations any more than you can or should erase the spires from our landscapes."

'Totalitarian regimes'

Start Quote

She (Baroness Warsi) is not Christian herself but nevertheless she sees religion as a good thing - it doesn't matter what religion as long as there's some religion and that's better than no religion. There is absolutely no logical basis for that”

End Quote Professor Richard Dawkins Evolutionary biologist and atheist writer

She wrote that examples of a "militant secularisation" taking hold of society could be seen in a number of things - "when signs of religion cannot be displayed or worn in government buildings; when states won't fund faith schools; and where religion is sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere".

She also compared the intolerance of religion with totalitarian regimes, which she said were "denying people the right to a religious identity because they were frightened of the concept of multiple identities".

Her comments come days after the High Court ruled that a Devon town council had acted unlawfully by allowing prayers to be said at meetings.

'Outdated and divisive'

On Baroness Warsi's article and speech, BBC political correspondent Louise Stewart said it was not the first time a senior Conservative had called for a revival of traditional Christian values.

"Last December, Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK was a Christian country and 'should not be afraid to say so'," she said.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) described Baroness Warsi's comments as "outdated, unwarranted and divisive".

"In an increasingly non-religious and, at the same time, diverse society, we need policies that will emphasise what we have in common as citizens rather than what divides us," said BHA chief executive Andrew Copson.

Baroness Warsi: "People need to feel stronger in their religious identities and more confident in their beliefs"

Baroness Warsi's two-day delegation of seven British ministers to the Holy See will include an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, who visited the UK in 2010.

It is understood it is the first time a serving minister of a foreign government has given an address to the staff and students of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the British Embassy to the Holy See said.

This visit marks the 30th anniversary of the re-establishment of full diplomatic ties between Britain and the Vatican.

'No logical basis'

Meanwhile, new research suggests Britons who declare themselves Christian display low levels of belief and practice.

Almost three quarters of the 1,136 people polled by Ipsos Mori agreed that religion should not influence public policy, and 92% agreed the law should apply to everyone equally, regardless of their personal beliefs.

It also found that 61% of Christians agreed homosexuals should have the same legal rights in all aspects of their lives as heterosexuals.

And a further 62% were in favour of a woman's right to have an abortion within the legal time limit.

The survey was conducted for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (UK), which describes itself as promoting "scientific education, rationalism and humanism".

Speaking on Baroness Warsi's comments, Mr Dawkins, former professor for the public understanding of science at Oxford University, told the BBC News Channel: "She is obviously a person who really wants to push religion.

"She is not Christian herself but nevertheless she sees religion as a good thing - it doesn't matter what religion as long as there's some religion and that's better than no religion.

"There is absolutely no logical basis for that."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 743.

    Need I point out one reason why atheists are becoming so militant? Religious fundamentalists are the most nasty people one can ever debate with. They condemn people to a fate of eternal agony whilst proclaiming God good and great with the same breath. Personally, I am neither religious nor atheist, but I think we need militant atheists to keep the great evils of religious fundamentalism in check.

  • rate this

    Comment number 742.

    Is the UK a Christian Nation? With every religion imaginable within its shores and even variations on variations as people choose which bits fit their lifestyle. I would argue that the UK is not a Christian Nation but a nation of free people. Free to choose their beliefs, free to choose not to believe and free to do so marginalisation or persecution.....OK, dreaming there a little!

  • rate this

    Comment number 741.

    1 Hour ago

    The secular have a faith "in not have a faith" and this is becoming a sort of "religion " for them.
    Atheism is about as much a religion as abstinence is a sex position.

  • rate this

    Comment number 740.

    "Britain is under threat"?

    I'm quite happy for people to believe whatever they want, but when we have a situation where religious leaders of one faith (or any faith) can sit in the house of lords and have a say in the affairs of the country that's taking it too far.

    Those of us who don't believe in gods and fairies have been too silent for too long. Militant? About time we were!

  • rate this

    Comment number 739.

    Secularism does not mean abolishing religion, just the opposite. It means you are free to practice any religion you like, or none, and nobody has special privileges over you because of their religion. I would have thought that a Muslim in a Christian country would welcome that!

  • rate this

    Comment number 738.

    Two quotes that say it all

    It amazes me to find an intelligent person who fights against something which he does not at all believe exists. --Mohandas Gandhi

    Atheists express their rage against God although in their view He does not exist. --C. S. Lewis

  • rate this

    Comment number 737.

    She couldn't be more wrong if she tried. The way forward in a multicultural society is to discourage public expression of religion. It certainly should be banished from schools and public institutions. It's divisive, and to most of us, a ridiculous and outdated world view. Morality and ethics are common to all, and should be promoted instead. I fear for the future if idiots like her get their way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 736.

    @bearlicker fantastically put

  • rate this

    Comment number 735.

    If only secularists WERE militant. Perhaps then they would have stood up more to the dangerous religious militancy that pervades modern life like a cancer. If only it stood up against the fatwas, genital mutilations, misogyny, suicide bombings, punishment beatings, subversion of science and the accelerated spread of AIDS - all of which religion inflicts on humanity every day in the 21st century.

  • rate this

    Comment number 734.

    The faith groups {churches}in the U.K.are seen as rival business fighting for market share the top was the church of england, now other brands are trying to take over, The muslims 4 main types of that group are not just a rival company but a very hostile asset stripper. who seek to convert all to they way of life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 733.

    The history of this country is born from religion. Our laws and archives are founded on religious beliefs. Our national anthem which is sung with pride by our military and all sundry is based on religion. All those who do not believe religion has a role in this country need to think hard of what their nationality is, cos the UK is and will continue to be a religious nation

  • rate this

    Comment number 732.

    @#16 Kev,
    "...those fanatical about non-religion seem to be worse!"
    I guess we can safely assume you are limiting your considerations to the verbal sphere and in influencing public policy? However, pan out to see what's happening in the world right now and you might want to ask yourself when did someone in the name of atheism, secularism or humanism last cause a terrorist attack or start a war?

  • rate this

    Comment number 731.

    God made the Earth in 7 days, Man in his own image. But some 300 Million years before that he made the Dinosaurs (Apparently) and 1000's of other inhabitable planets. Isn't it time we, Homo Sapiens as an evolved, advanced and intelligent race laid all of these crazy Supreme Being and Creation myths to rest once and for all as Science has made, and continues to make a complete mockery of religion

  • rate this

    Comment number 730.

    A religion that is forced, or in some way manipulates people, has no essence of truth within it and must therefore accept it's own inevitable decay. Faith in the joy of life should be all that is needed for true religiosity to occur Naturally, but this is not on the agenda of the manipulators and power strugglers. Only their own selfish agendas are important to them...and the meek shall inherit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 729.

    I follow a belief system - however, I agree that religion has no place in Government. Why should our society be based on archaic systems (which are inherently sexist, racist, etc), rather than logic and basic morals? Keep religion out of Government - but allow every individual the right to practise religion, or not, if they choose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 728.

    Unbelievably - Religion in the past was totalitarian, then with the age of enlightenment was becoming a more passive institution. With the rise of religious extremism it cannot continue to be the elephant in the room.
    It is like a deck of cards sitting on dodgy ground. Religion should have no power in a secular society it can then practice what it likes with its tribe

  • rate this

    Comment number 727.

    "sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere"

    Good. About time too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 726.

    I am a member of a minority religion. If I happen to mention my faith or practice at work, I am cordially reminded to leave my personal life at home. I am happy to do so provided that the same rules apply to all religions. As far as public life goes, religion should be marginal. Worship or religious practice is a private act, it should not have any place in work or in government or in law.

  • rate this

    Comment number 725.

    Is it a State Secret? Are Jedi's now an official religion and entitled to Taxpayers funds? (I trust George Lucas has advised the Treasury of his Bank Account details). Where are Jedi's in the current League Table? On this St. Valentine's Day I'm creating a new Religion that advocates just one rule; "Go Forth and Multiply!" Catholics & Muslims (and oddly, Carol Vorderman) will feel right at home.

  • rate this

    Comment number 724.

    "Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made" Kant.

    Doesn't matter whether it's religion, democracy or even secularism, so long as people are involved then its prone to be corrupted, those who foolishly champion 'human reason' clearly lack it!


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