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'Outdated and divisive'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 1583.

    "The minority of non-believers will continue to believe that during the 7 million years since the ice age, mono-cellular amoebae have evolved from the swamps to build a BMW"
    Your calculations are out by around 2 to 3 BILLION years. Still, thanks for demonstrating again that religion is founded in ignorance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1582.

    Secularism isn't Atheism. Secularism is a form of society - which is there to safeguard the religious freedom of all people. I think Baroness Warsi is frightened it may actually not safeguard freedom but attack it. Anyways, in the British Constitution (un-codified) it states the COE is the official UK religion. Hardly secularism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1581.

    Our country has MANY different faiths and cultures. If a government sides with ONE religion it instantly marginalises all other beliefs as well as those who have no religion which would only incite hatred. I am an atheist who enjoys the cultural verity religion has brought to this world but it won’t last as a universal truth will eventually be discovered. For better or worse? Only time can tell.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1580.

    Reports of Christianity's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1579.

    1236.Adam wrote
    "(Am I) a bad parent because I take my children to Church every Sunday? And by the way... they don't go through force."
    Typical christian thought pattern seeking to attribute "evil" to not following the path ordained by "authority". A congregation is called "a flock" for good reason. Churches hate science because it reduces the "niches of ignorance" where God can hide

  • rate this

    Comment number 1578.

    So; religion marginalises itself by being a violent, dominating, predatory and an ultimately unbelievable monstrosity to anyone with a modern education.

    Yet, apparently its the atheists fault this occurred?

    Nope Mrs Warsi - you're talking nonsense, please resign.

    Meanwhile we atheists can sit and have a nice cuppa as religion slowly dies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1577.

    We dont have faith in key scientists , Dawkins and Einstein are not our messiahs .We have belief in their theories , right up to the point when they are demonstrated to be wrong or incomplete , then in the light of new objective evidence we modify our beliefs. When did any religion admit that it's view of the world was incorrect.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1576.

    Don't forget, this is the Government who have opened the door for a surge of "faith" schools, just to ease the pressure on education budgets. They've sold out our children's education for an easy life. Even if we get rid of this unelected Government at the next opportunity, this appalling legacy will remain into the next parliament. Blocking this NOW is vital.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1575.

    Can we nail the common assumption that science too is a religion? Science is based upon a set of theories backed-up by observations, theories that consistently predict results, and can be tested by anyone. Religion is based upon irrational belief; it can never be tested nor proven it requires 'faith'. Look it up in a dictionary.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1574.

    Ah this is great news. Hopefully this will continue until all modern "gods" are condemned to myth with Zeus, Thor, Ra, etc...

    Religion is a cancer and needs eradicating.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1573.

    1326, I used to work for IPSOS they are very careful to get a good cross section of the population, in fact that was the most difficult part of the job, some sections of society do not understand the value of good market research

  • rate this

    Comment number 1572.

    I am an agnostic Athiest, as I suspect most here posting are.

    However to throw something our there for debate:

    How many of us Athiests, when the chips have been down and the preverable "crap has hit the fan", be it a very ill loved one or the like have not thrown a prayer up!

    I have, and I suspect alot more of you Athiests have aswell.

    Lets not be to hypocritical please...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1571.

    Just for the record, I personally believe Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour. But I'm not trying to 'push' that belief on anyone else today.

    But I do wonder how many negative ratings this post will get by the end of the day.

    Perhaps tolerance needs to work both ways.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1570.

    "Religion has absolutely NO place in public life. All it does is create division and bigotry."
    Unfortunately, no. Human nature creates division and bigotry. Religion itself is not the division, this is an illusion. And by taking an aggresive opposition to religion "militant aetheism" then becomes no better than militant religiousness, creating more division and conflict.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1569.

    I find the majority of comments on this article very encouraging for the future. In all circumstances now, whether it be work or personal life I very rarely meet people who are religious. People do indeed have the right to believe whatever they want but I certainly wouldn't help any form of growth in religious beliefs and the government certainly shouldn't either.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1568.

    1342. kelvin273
    Why do we need a "spiritual aspect"? I just have no place for this in my life and to me it is unproductive time-wasting. Like many people, I prefer to do things for sensible, rational, logical reasons, rather than drawing on something often intangible and irrational. Often people who value religion assume we all have a "spiritual" side - many people don't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1567.

    There is only one true god as far as the political and financial sectors are concerned, Mamon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1566.

    Baroness Warsi would like the religious to be "more confident in their creeds", where a creed is a set of beliefs that influence behaviour. This is fine as long as the developers of these multiple creeds anticipated the exact set of problems that we face today. Unfortunately, this is not the case (not least because the religions differ from each other on many tenets).

  • rate this

    Comment number 1565.

    Rubbish, secularists, are no more or less militant than the religious factions. Heck, never had anybody knocking on my door trying to promote a secular life style.....As a devout atheist, I had religion thrust down my throat at home, at school and oh you dare not question it.

    Life simply has no purpose, we are here because of random events and errors. Get used to it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1564.

    Clegg is a senior member of the government and an atheist. He should make himself useful, stand up for democracy and make the argument for a secular society. This country does not want to return to the dark ages. Warsi's position should be robustly dismantled.


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