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Feb 14 2012

Valentine’s Day Massacre : Secularism denies History and Destroys Identity

Hello whine whine whine? I would like to call a Waaahmbulance for Tim Stanley.

The argument he makes is one made by racists and morons across the fair isle I like to call as home. And it can be summarised as….

“My privilege! How dare you stop me from exercising my right to be privileged! Don’t you know we are a Christian nation? How dare you destroy that! Can’t you see you are destroying culture with your heathen ways of secularism!”

It beggars belief that we have people who think like this. This man who thinks that British history being defined by faith is a good thing. Our history is filled with complete and utter bastards because of religion. The British Museum is a museum and also a crime scene in progress from all the stuff we nicked and all the stupidity of religious intolerance. It’s the past but it’s also the truth. We stuck flags in various places and took a lot of stuff from people who didn’t have the maxim gun. It’s the truth. We really cannot change that truth. We also did a lot of fairly insane things when the UK went through it’s fundie christian phase. When we were running around stabbing other christians because they believed in a slightly different set of events in the bible.

She opened with “Tim, they’re trying to outlaw Christianity in England.” I think she had slightly misread the effort to ban prayers at council meetings, but I understood what she meant. My mom is an unapologetic, born again Baptist, and – from her perspective – she lives in frightening times. “

It just shows how silly this is. No one’s trying to outlaw christianity in the UK. It’s just that we don’t think prayer is inclusive, sensible or acceptable as a public option. We have grown out of our christian nation and become a humanist secular society. And it is for the better. Our society is much better off than it ever was even in times of a recession. The only people who don’t like it are the religious right (who are thankfully rare) and the racists (who are surprisingly not).

One of the things that I love about America (I’m currently living in Washington DC) is that it’s a country where religion is part of the geography and language of everyday life. For someone who grew up in a religious household, that’s normal and nice. But it’s certainly not the norm for most contemporary Britons. Religion has been slowly squeezed out of mainstream British culture. I find – and I recognise that this is a subjective appraisal – that this makes the UK quite a sterile place to live. For you don’t need to believe in God to see the cultural value of belief. For good and bad, it has shaped global history for thousands of years. To eradicate it from the public sphere is to eradicate one’s own history. It leaves us without a shared identity. 

Indeed! We should be more like America where they would NEVER have elected any member of the GLBT to their equivalent of parliament because of the choice of who they love. We should be like America where millions of people think the most important skill of a politician should be how much he believes in their god. We should be like America where they regularly attempt and sometimes succeed in denying the basic rights of a woman to access healthcare and contraception. We should be like America where 45% of the people believe that the man on our currency is wrong (Darwin) and that humans were divinely created from two individuals who lived around 4000 BC.

We do see the cultural value of belief. We see it when hypocrites such as the Catholic Church deny sex education, contraception and abortion to women across the world while they protect paedophiles from justice and indeed give them the opportunity to offend again and again. We see it in the various protestant groups whose anti-science stances and anti-gay stance makes them a danger to freedoms of all. We see it in the various muslim groups who routinely threaten free speech and indeed encourage and validate young men and women to fight and die for a stupid cause while treating women as little more than property. We see jews being guilted into supporting Israel whose behaviour recently has been nothing short of super villainous. We see hindus being conned by little more than stage magicians and being whipped up into a frenzy over a variety of nonsense. The culture of belief is frankly one of terrible ideas that belong in a museum. You can believe in a god or gods as long as they do not harm anyone and as long as you keep your belief away from how society functions.

Where has Britain’s once proud religiosity gone? In America this week,Barack Obama attempted to force Catholic organisations to provide contraception as part of their employee healthcare packages.  The American people rose up in outrage and he backed down. He won’t try that again. Why is it that a country that has separated church and state in its Constitution is more respectful of faith than a country that has an established church? It is a question that the Anglican hierarchy needs to address as soon as possible.

And you are proud of that? The Catholic Church’s stance on contraception is infamous for being part of the problem in which roughly 23 million people in Africa are going to die from HIV and AIDS. DIE. Not get hurt, or get crippled but DIE. The Catholic Church may think that sex education is a muttered warning about Father Smyth, but the rest of us think that a bunch of virgins and celibate blokes who have no idea about sex shouldn’t be giving advice on how to have it. And that in the USA there is no NHS so women do not have access to equal levels of healthcare and that in areas where catholics are giving out healthcare, they may ignore basic healthcare.

It has been empirically proven that a sex positive attitude to sexuality is the best. Sex positivity is the idea that sex is fun but you should never be pressured into having sex that you don’t want and you should respect yourself. Even if your fantasies are the most degrading ever (I have dated someone with a rape fantasy before), they are explor
ed in a fashion involving consent and respect and boundaries. And one of those is contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies and unwanted STDs. This actually reduces pregnancies and empowers a lot of women and men who have healthy attitudes to sex. The american method of abstinence is like not providing soldiers with body armour while claiming that the best way to survive a gun battle is to dodge bullets. True, but it is incredibly impractical and the bad guys do so very much insist on shooting at you rather than around you. And it’s a lot harder to deal with an actual pregnancy or a STD when you could have simply avoided it by insisting your man friend puts a condom on.

We have come a long way as a country because we have embraced multiculturalism and secularism. We will go a long way because of that. The USA should serve as a warning that any country can become a near theocracy if we simply don’t pay any attention and fight for what is correct rather than what is discriminatory and superstitious. 

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