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'Outdated and divisive'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 943.

    426. Frank Lund

    How does replacing belief in a God who has personality just as we have with belief in crystals, individualised effects of distant astronomical bodies and Zero Ohm resistors in pendants move us forward?"


    It doesn't. They're both as senseless and as devoid of any reason or evidence as each other.

  • rate this

    Comment number 942.

    Religion should be under threat, we are in a secular society and those of us who do not have a religious belief are constantly hounded and judged by those who do, they try to force religious morality into our laws and into our society. It is not acceptable and it must stop.

  • rate this

    Comment number 941.

    So is the wind - you believe that exists, don't you?

    The wind is a natural phenomena explained by science. God is explained by your fear of the unknown and the need to rationalise it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 940.

    Odd story. I'm really glad I don't live under any religious doctrines. That would be culturally inept. Only a Conservative could be this far from reality and not lose their own sanity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 939.

    Ironic how science is disproving this idea of nothingness surrounding in this Universe. According to it we comprised 5% of the matter of the Universe. What about this ocean representing this remaining 95% (Dark Matter).... More and more we are heading to something way bigger ...we some hard heads are scare of it living in absolute denial. I believe in spirits, other planes of existence, in God..

  • rate this

    Comment number 938.

    How is encouraging irrationality and divisiveness supposed to make a better society?

  • rate this

    Comment number 937.

    Some comments suggest people need religion as a cruth to survive. Shouldn't society provide for them, rather than force them to live in a fantasy to cope with their lives? These comments are essentially condoning delusions!

  • rate this

    Comment number 936.

    Old fashioned, out dated Conservative party nonsense.
    In a diverse, multicultural society such as Britain it is imperative no particular religion is given preference over another with respect to the state.
    We should separate the state from the Church of England and follow a constitutional path where the state does not recognise any religion but privately individuals are free to worship.

  • rate this

    Comment number 935.

    "I fail to see how it is socially acceptable for people to openly rubbish religeon and peoples beliefs yet it is not acceptable for me to voice my opinions on same sex marriage for instance."

    Would you equally expect it to be acceptable to voice opinions promoting discrimination on grounds of say, race?

  • rate this

    Comment number 934.

    Secularism is a religion in that it is based on assumptions it can't prove. In particular it cannot prove that human beings are just material.

    However, Philosophers of the mind and Neurologists have a term named Qualia: this is the aspects of human consciousness for which there is no material explanation. These account for 95% of ordinary life. Denigrating this is the danger of secularism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 933.

    Why are atheists on here so rude? Is it because they share the human feeling of doubt but can't find the words to express it politely? Have they looked up the full title of ' The Origin of Species' and now understand why the Archcelebrity Atheist was for once left speechless on 'Today' this a.m? Which type of ant described on p.243 of the book (Penguin edition) do they think they may be?

  • rate this

    Comment number 932.

    Here we go again, more of this so-called "militant atheism" tripe. It's funny how all these religious folk who profess to be so good and nice and biblical are always the first to bend the truth whenever it suits them. Still, when have they not done that?

  • rate this

    Comment number 931.

    In the days before science, religion offered an explanation for the inexplicable. Why, in these enlightened times, do so many otherwise intelligent people wish to keep our feet firmly implanted in medieval culture? Let's face it, in the infinite multidimensional universe that we now recognise, there's no room for God, and nor, now, is there need to invent him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 930.

    "At times I wish all religions at the bottom of the sea. He's a weak ruler who needs religion to uphold his Govt; it is as if he would catch his people in a trap. My people are going to learn the teachings of science. Let them worship as they will; every man can follow his own conscience, provided it does not interfere with sane reason or bid him act against the liberty of his fellow man." - MKA

  • rate this

    Comment number 929.

    The problem with religion is that its believers feel the need to inflict their beliefs on everyone else. Religion is a personal belief, note the word personal. Don`t assume that your belief gives you carte blanche to pontificate on the way everyone else chooses to live their lives. Throughout history you have murdered, terrorised and persecuted people who don`t agree with you, enough!

  • rate this

    Comment number 928.

    the people who believe there's a man in the sky controlling things have a priviledged position in our society despite the fact they have produced no evidence for the man in the sky - also calling secularists militants is an offensive smear - last time I checked no secularist has threatened to kill someone for drawing a cartoon of Richard Dawkins or thrown acid in the face of girls going to school

  • rate this

    Comment number 927.

    thank God I am an atheist and can watch the decline of religious dogma in Britain. At what point will society wake up and realise that creating a God to explain the unknown doesn't solve anything especially a vengeful and partcularly nasty one like the one we inherited from the middle east .

  • rate this

    Comment number 926.

    What people clearly don't seem to understand is that religion has been extremely important to the evolution of society. Our entire society is based on trust which comes from religion. The people on here ranting about religion not having a place in society are quite poorly educated if they honestly believe that... I'm not religious at all, I don't believe god exists but I respect religion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 925.

    Un-religion is the new religion, and many of its proponents are just as objectionably aggressive as the worst kind of evangelist for actual religions.

    For myself, so long as religious belief or observance is not forced upon me, & doesn't hamper me unduly, then I have no problem with it. It must be great to have something you feel you can 100% believe in and commit to, but it's not for me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 924.

    "Militant secularisation threat to religion, says Warsi"

    > About time


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