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'Outdated and divisive'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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  • Comment number 1943.

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

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1942.

    @1421 "Why is it acceptable to attack and challenge Christianity on here but not acdeptable to challenge homosexuality?"

    Probably because homosexuality does not have a privileged place in our society and doesn't impose itself unlike Christianity has done and is still doing.

  • Comment number 1941.

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

  • Comment number 1940.

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

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 1939.

    Religion should:
    Be practised privately at home.
    Be practised privately in a place of worship.
    Be taught as a part of history or social studies classes.

    Religion should not:
    Be practised publicly in a confrontational/converting way.
    Be involved in any level of government.
    Be involved in any level of school administration.
    Be used as an excuse/justification to commit crime.
    Be tax-free.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1938.

    Oh brother, it's so tiresome ... some guy quite rightly challenges a local council in court over it's meeting agenda including a prayer before it's business commences - he wins the case - and now we have to listen to sanctimonious cr@p about Christianity coming under attack from free thinkers. Surely it's about belief in law and democracy, or some ancient, outdated, hooky superstition.

  • Comment number 1937.

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

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 1936.

    Its funny how in the former Soviet Union you get people complaining about the loss of the good old Soviet (Athiest) values.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 1935.

    Quite apart from the merits of Warsi's comments, is the BBC taking support for secularism and freedom of choice for women, and a rejection of discrimination based on sexuality, as evidence of "low levels of (Christian) belief and practice"?

    Based, no less, on a survey done by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science?

    Whatever happened to social awareness and journalistic standards?

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 1934.

    I am a 'militant atheist'. Stop charitable status for churches and religious groups. Close down so-called faith schools. Remove the right from religious groups to exercise 'conscionable' discrimination against Gays, Women and any other social groups they fancy.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1933.

    Why is Baroness Warsi continually telling people how they should think about religion? This is a personal matter and not one for government. We are not paying her inflated salary for her to tell us how or what we should think.

  • rate this
    -9

    Comment number 1932.

    1523.Pete Morley- "The difference is that we can measure the winds existance and we can see it's effects. God is just another name for an ever receding pocket of scientific ignorance that has no place in politics."

    Sorry to burst your bubble, lad, but you CAN see the effects of God's existence. Try getting out a bit more. Science is gradually confirming the Bible, not disproving it.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1931.

    1778.WiseOldBob

    Presumably you were referring to Leptons?

    You yourself miss the fundamental core of how science works - someone has an idea, it gets argued over until testing proves it right or wrong.

    If new evidence come to light that contradicts previous understanding, our knowledge changes if the new evidence proves correct......science is an ongoing process of enlightenment.....

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1930.

    @Rach 1753 - what on earth have Easter eggs got to do with Christianity? They symbolize that spring is the time when many animals procreate and new life is born. Even the word Easter is derived from Ä’ostre, a pagan goddess. Easter is simply a pagan festival that was hijacked by early Christians as a way ofshoe-horning thir new religion into existing festivities.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1929.

    1778.WiseOldBob
    I dont think you understand science, peer review, experiments, proof, updating current knowledge etc. Obviously, to you, scientists sit around and discuss ways to control the masses or make money from them by making stories up. Oh, and only refer to ancient texts.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1928.

    > There is no more evidence that lack of religion causes today's moral
    > decline than for religion being the cause of all ills.

    There's no evidence that there _is_ a moral decline, quite the reverse. There has probably never been a more violence averse, more tolerant mass society in the whole history of the species than Europe is today.

    And the reduced role of religion is one reason.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1927.

    @1738.Gary
    If people are raised well they are naturally moral. I was not raised Christian, yet I hold moral beliefs and opinions, and to suggest that I am "less" moral than you because I don't believe in your God is sickening to me. This is the problem with religion - superiority complex.
    Our flawed culture is a result of greed and inequality, not a decline of Church power and dominance.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1926.

    Why doesn't the Cameron government display their good Christian values in their actions? There is income inequality in the society, people can't go universities due to high fees, there are people getting bonuses for doing nothing while people loose their jobs etc.. What is the government doing? Being a good Christian and watching the country go down?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1925.

    "I will be arguing that to create a more just society, people need to feel stronger in their religious identities and more confident in their creeds"...

    this statement is merely an assertion, without evidence to support it.
    Religion is a belief system. Justice springs from ethics and personal morality, which may or may not be inspired by religious belief.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1924.

    There are many good things that come from religion (also many bad)
    What troubles me is that people of faith actually think that they will survive death, and so live this life (in my opinion, the only one they have) with that in mind. What a waste.

 

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