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'Outdated and divisive'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 1003.

    1 Hour ago
    Condolences to anyone who has this fool as their MP....

    That's exactly the point - she has never, ever won an election. She was appointed by the David Cameron, no less. Was this tokenism? You'll have to decide.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1002.

    Religion has no business in politics, especially in such a culturally diverse country as ours. Reason and reason alone should inspire policy, not the ramblings of ignorant bronze age desert dwellers. Religion is being marginalized because there isn't room for a high chair at the debate table. I'm sure none of the religious posters on here would accept astrology as a sound basis for policy...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1001.

    Christianity defined how Britain developed its law, its state and its peoples. To forget this is to deny who we are. Beliefs and expression of those beliefs go hand in hand. So observing our Christian heritage in our daily lifes may in fact halt the further decline of this once great nation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1000.

    "It also found that 61% of Christians [...] and a further 62% [..]"

    So they surveyed 123%? Come on, BBC - you should know better than this!

  • rate this

    Comment number 999.

    The only way of ensuring everyone can be free in their religious or non-religious identity is by removing it from law, work and official proceedings.

    In insisting Christian prayers are part of formal council procedures – anyone of another faith, or no faith, could end up feeling marginalised, and, in turn, lose their own religious or non-religious identity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 998.

    I will pray for you all. That my right !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 997.

    True religion is about compassion, peace, love, acceptance, hope, self-discipline, perseverance, forgiveness and soul seeking. We've through all of this out of our soceity and we now suffer an ill unsocial and anti social nation. Look at the western world and how it ha degraded morally since we took religion out of our school, work places and ultimately out of our lives. Now, think again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 996.

    Religion is a personal matter and has no place in government or politics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 995.

    Just great - as we progress (evolve) towards a rational, coorperative and scientifically expansive species this 'baroness' comes out with this archaic, backward thinking and emotional nonsense. Religion is dead and we don't need to go back there - please let the churches and it's leaders sink into history books (that's where they belong)

  • rate this

    Comment number 994.

    personally i think religion has its place. To the moderate followers of any belief it instills a sense of morals and behaviour that is sadly lacking in quite a large swathe of society today.

    Its a shame the extremists at both ends of the scale are the ones screaming "god exists" or "no he doesnt" when neither can actually prove their point. Until they die of course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 993.

    Because 497.Douggielee, to "get a bit of tolerance and let people believe what they want to believe without attacking them all the time?" would mean turning a blind eye to insanity and what is medically quantifiable as sustained mass hysteria.

  • rate this

    Comment number 992.

    as Ghandi said "I like your Christ, I don't like your Christians, they are nothing like your Christ". This is the problem with religion for me. Religion isn't only for Sundays, its for life. I do not attend church as I find it hypocritical and can't believe it, but I do try to live a decent life and would prefer to see Britain as Christian than any other religion. It is our way of life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 991.

    @Will: unlike religions, global warming is based on scientific evidence that you can interrogate yourself. No one is saying it is a punishment for 'sin'. The arguments are about whether we caused it, how far it will go and how bad the consequences will be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 990.

    "Any fool can criticise, condemn and complain and most fools do." Benjamin Franklin

  • rate this

    Comment number 989.

    Religion should be banned! You only have to look at what's been done in the name of religion (Christianity, Catholicism, Islam etc) throughout history to see that it has no place in society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 988.

    I cannot believe people like Varsi are talking about "militant secularisation". This phrase could be said to be an oxymoron. How can it be militant to object to non-thinking, ritualistic, evangelical practices which are given the name 'religion'? Varsi thinks she is on a safe wicket with subjects such as religion, but in fact most of her comments just emphasise her lack of intellectual depth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 987.


    Many secularists on this thread are calling for a total ban on religion, often in an abusive manner. If this really is a majority view, it doesn't hold out much hope for the future, secular or otherwise. What next? Fines or imprisonment for being religious? The tracks seem to be leading there.

    You've obviously forgotten about the numerous "Inquisitions" non-believers have suffered

  • rate this

    Comment number 986.

    "The Ministry of Justice has confirmed it is "considering arrangements" for appointing a new Chaplain-General - but the job might not go to an Anglican"

    > If this post must be created it should go to someone of the predominant religion at least. However it's a non-entity of a post. What will its incumbent actually contribute to society?

  • rate this

    Comment number 985.

    I do have a problem with religion. Religion has been around since god was a boy (excuse the pun). What it preaches and what its actions are are completely polar. All forms of religion has a past to be ashamed of.

  • rate this

    Comment number 984.

    "It also found that 61% of Christians agreed...............
    And a further 62% were in favour of .................."
    Lazy journalism BBC.
    This adds up to 123%
    Maybe the second sentence should start- "Further, 62%........."
    It's the same 100% after all.


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