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'Outdated and divisive'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 903.

    Someone wrote that without God life is meaningless and pointless. Unfortunately we don't get to invent things to make us feel better about life. That's not how reality works. That's just a delusion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 902.

    It's good to see so many people are not brainwashed by religious speak of wrath and hell. Gives me hope for societies future. The Church is scared that their freeloading money making scheme is coming to an end. But dont let this topic distract you from the real issues of today, our government living in the pockets of corporations, this is an even bigger threat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 901.

    Christianity is part of our identity it has been for over 2000 years! Why people try and deny this is beyond me. Christianity is a way of life in much the same way as any other religion. It teaches tolerance, respect for each other. Our Queen is the head of our Church and therefore religion does have a place in government and it takes a Muslim Peer to say so!

  • rate this

    Comment number 900.

    What a stupid outdated view!! Religion has little or no place in our modern society. In the days long gone when there was little education, it gave people hope, however now people are educated and have a much better knowledge of the world around them. People understand science, and realise that religion is a load of clap trap. When did you last have a war or terrorism in the name of science....?

  • rate this

    Comment number 899.

    The statistics just don't support Varsi's case. Only around 2% of people regularly attend chruch. We are in practice a secular society and our legislature and government should reflect this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 898.

    One wonders what caused Baroness Warsi to come up with this statement?

    As a self proclaimed Muslims, she must believe in the Koran. Which states:

    [8.39] And fight with them until there is no more persecution and religion should be only for Allah; but if they desist, then surely Allah sees what they do.

    "religion should be only for Allah" does not envisage anything else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 897.

    "I wonder how many non-believers will suddenly start praying when they are in their final hour."
    I expect very few. Not I for one. That was a thing for the middle ages. If you have witnessed peoples final hour you will know its usually more dignified than than the moral panic you describe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 896.

    What people fail to understand is that for those who profess the Christian faith it is very much about about that faith encompassing all things. It isn't a hobby but something which permeates everything which includes our national life. There should be no religious privilege but to call it superstition is unhelpful and to deny faith an equal voice is to our detriment as it has much to offer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 895.

    In free thinking society religious freedom is a given. Free to worship which ever Diety or Creed so long as it does not infringe on the freedoms of others.
    It seems atheism has begun a totalitarian and facist crusade.
    Religion was the basis for social morals - 'do unto others...'
    With the cull of religion we seem to have murdered decency.
    Faith is good for the soul - if you have one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 894.

    310. Arsene Wengooner
    Intolerance is when someone locks you up/persecutes you for professing a different belief to themselves. Disagreeing with your belief is not persecuting you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 893.

    134 dartmoor kid
    As a person with no religion and - I hope - an open mind, I enjoy both Easter and Christmas, not to mention every other public holiday. They are precious times away from work spent with friends and family. The fact that one religion or another claims them is irrelevant to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 892.

    whpres06; you know fairytales were supposed to be educational and entertaining ?
    It fascinates me how people living within Existence can be so blind to the wonders of it all.
    You realise it is only the Will of the Gods maintaining something out of nothing that keeps this whole show on the road ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 891.

    There is a massive anti islamic feeling in the country anyway due to terrorism and this will only drive that distrust.
    I do think that the basic principles and practices of these religions should be taught at a secondary level to prevent confusion but things like church schools are just stupid. What we need is better education ABOUT religion but not preach it at kids from when they're born.

  • rate this

    Comment number 890.

    I am an atheist but I do believe in something human rights! Everyone has the right to believe in whatever they want to believe in provided it doesn’t impact on the life of anyone else. If a person wants to dress in a wear that reflects their beliefs, why shouldn’t they? People have the right to be openly religious or openly anything else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 889.

    Baroness Warsi is doing the same thing she always does, creating conflict where there is none. Religion should be personal and not imposed on people who do not share its beliefs. A secular society is free from the intolerances handed down by a religion, secularist don't generally persecute people for being different as does happen in many religious societies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 888.

    Her point is not that we should force everyone to be religious but some secularists here are as usual trying to misrepresent,distort and demonise religion which is exactly the sort of thing shes protesting against.It isn't fair that those with religious views should be censored and automatically dismissed from public debate so that only secularists have a voice in government both should be equal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 887.

    Utter pish tosh by Warsi who obviously intends to be the poster girl for religious reactionism. Those she speaks for are obviously worried that as education and enlightenment undermine the suspension of belief that faith requires, they see their positions of authority, influence and wealth slipping away. Next thing she will be calling for the return to old fashioned values/shariah/inquisition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 886.

    When was the last time an atheist or an agnostic burned someone at the stake for disagreeing with them? Or tortured them or drowned them etc etc etc. Oh, that would be never.

    I'll take a secular government over a religious one any day thanks.

  • Comment number 885.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 884.

    "Religion is being "sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere."

    This is because more and more people recognise the absurdity of religion, and its increasing irrelevance in the modern world except as a tool of oppression.


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