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Feb 14 2013

Baroness Warsi will defend

The Telegraph rejoices at another paean to theocracy from “Baroness” Warsi.

Baroness Warsi will defend the right of Christians, Muslims, Jews and others to publicly practise their faith insisting that “people who do God do good”.

Her comments come in a speech in London marking the first anniversary of a landmark visit to the Vatican by a delegation of ministers in which she claimed that British society is under threat from the rising tide of “militant secularisation”.

Lots of work done in two sentences.

Warsi will “defend the right” – that’s not under attack. Nobody is taking away anyone’s right to publicly practice a religion, unless (of course) the “practice” is against a law or a set of local rules or the like. If someone’s religion requires her to scream under my windows at 3 in the morning, then I’m going to summon some cops to interfere with her right to practice in that way. If someone’s religion requires her to beat the crap out of her children then social services need to interfere with her right to practice in that way.

“People who do God do good.” Not necessarily. Some do, some don’t. Some do harm. Some do appalling harm.

How was Warsi’s junket to the Vatican a “landmark”? Who cares that it was exactly a year ago? Why is a delegation of government ministers visiting the Vatican – a religious institution, not a real state, despite its status as a pretend state courtesy of Signor Mussolini – at all? And what business does a government minister have attacking secularism? What business does a government minister have promoting or even demanding theocracy? Secularism doesn’t threaten the right to publicly practice a religion. It threatens only religious interference in or replacement of this-world government.

Lady Warsi, who combines a ministerial role in the Foreign Office with being Britain’s first minister for faith, will say that she went to meet Pope Benedict last year “to tell the world that Britain does do God”.

She will say: “There is one big reason why I made the case for faith that day … and why, I have made freedom of religion and belief a priority, and that’s that people who do God do good.”

Why does Britain need a “minister for faith”? For that matter why does “faith” even need a minister for faith?

Warsi is spectacularly clueless if she doesn’t realize that freedom of religion and belief depends on secularism.

H/t Roger.

20 comments

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  1. 1
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    people who do God do good

    So many jokes. So little time.

  2. 2
    Raging Bee

    Am I doing good if I’m doing the Goddess?

  3. 3
    latsot

    Ophelia, don’t forget that our country and government are *not* secular. We act as though they are much of the time but our government is never shy of reminding us that we have an official and officially-sponsored religion. What Warsi is doing *is* the business of government, even though many of us would prefer it isn’t.

  4. 4
    Don Quijote

    Yeah, but which god is Warsi doing and which god is the UK government doing?

  5. 5
    Ophelia Benson

    latsot – I do know that, but I wrote as if I didn’t. I suppose I have a delusion that they all are de facto secular underneath, or at least an awareness that the government ought to be.

    Still – given the official religion, what Warsi is doing is if anything less the business of government. This is an Anglican country madam! It doesn’t send missions to the Vatican with Muslims at the helm. Whatever next?!

  6. 6
    Marcus Ranum

    Why would any woman want to talk to the pope? Stockholm syndrome?

  7. 7
    sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    This is an Anglican country madam!

    Well, no, it isn’t. England is, but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland aren’t.

    “people who do God do good”

    The problem is they assume the two are identical: like the christians who dig wells and damn gays in Uganda, they cannot differentiate between doing good and doing bad by any other standard.

  8. 8
    Ophelia Benson

    Hm. I wondered that. What’s it called then? What church is it that the monarch is supposed to be the head of? It’s not the Anglican Communion or something? Church of Scotland, church of Wales – they’re not part of the Anglican Communion?

  9. 9
    brucegee1962

    Does the Minister of Faith have her Office down the hall from the Minister of Magic? Or it the Minister of Silly Walks? I get confused.

    Of the three, I suspect the last one does the most good for the nation.

  10. 10
    davidhart

    The Church of Scotland isn’t part of the Anglican Communion – it is its own thing, with a different organisational structure (less hierarchy – it doesn’t have an official head like the Queen, though it does have a ‘moderator’ who serves for one year, and whose job is, so far as I can tell, to chair meetings and to be a spokesperson for the church, rather than to actually formulate policy, so to speak).

    As to whether there are significant differences in what they actually believe, I don’t know, but I would assume nothing worth fighting over. I’m not even sure if the schools I went to in Scotland were Church of Scotland or Anglican transplants.

    By contrast, the Church of Wales is an Anglican church, but is not the established church of Wales – the only country in the UK to still have an established church is England. I dare say this was all very important to some people at some time.

  11. 11
    AsqJames

    Warsi will “defend the right” – that’s not under attack. Nobody is taking away anyone’s right to publicly practice a religion

    It is actually. The Human Rights Act of 1998 is under attack from members of Baroness Warsi’s own party (as well as UKIP and other far-right loons) because it’s based on the European Convention on Human Rights you see. And naturally anything European is automatically a very bad thing.

    And probably socialist as well. And fascist, ‘cos it’s them Germans innit? Oh yeah, and also the Greeks, they’re European and they invented bumming, so it stands to reason dunnit! Spaniards are OK as waiters and that, but really they’re just lazy aren’t they? Lovely footballers though. I had that Nigel Farage in the back of my cab once you know. Very nice man he is.

  12. 12
    Tim Harris

    Asq…! plus 2! (can’t find the plus sign on this Japanese keyboard).

  13. 13
    Tim Harris

    Incidentally, is this Minister for Faith with capital letters – a genuine position in the government? If it is, then it was introduced very recently: I suppose by Brother Cameron trying to out-do Brother Blair. Can somebody shed some light on this Minister of Faith business?

  14. 14
    Ophelia Benson

    I was wondering that. The Telegraph article was the first I’d heard of it. Will attempt to dig.

  15. 15
    Tim Harris

    Yes, it sounds very curious, and dangerous, too, if we actually have a Minister for Faith – how long before inquisitions start: once that sort of post has been established (or any post for that matter), any holder of it will want to accrue as much power to it as possible; which is what Baroness Warsi is clearly doing…

    Oh, and AsqJames, I hope that that cab-driver was not in the back of the cab with Nigel Farage…

  16. 16
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Sorry for the off-topic-ness, but I thought you would like this, Ophelia. It’s a guest post at Noodlemaz by her friend Ben called “Confessions Of A Former Misogynist“.

    h/t <a href+"http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2013/02/15/new-required-reading-confessions-of-a-former-misogynist/"Crommunist, which is where I saw it.

  17. 17
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Ah damnit! How did I fuck up the HTML? Could somebody fix that? It’s going to drive me insane if it’s not fixed.

  18. 18
    jefers

    @13 ‘Faith and Communities’ is a position that’s existed for a while now but her Foreign Office post is brand new and is basically an excuse to allow her to stay in cabinet meetings. The suspicion is that she lost the Tory Chair position partly because of the stupid scandals she got herself embroiled in and partly because she dumped all the difficult work and interviews on the deputy Chair Michael Fallon.

    Fallon actually did a fairly decent job and I think the Tories missed a trick by replacing Warsi with Grant ‘Michael Green’ Shapps.

  19. 19
    Bob-B

    They should be a bit more explicit and replace ‘minister for faith’ by ‘minster for beliefs that are not supported by evidence’.

  20. 20
    Matt Penfold

    Ophelia, don’t forget that our country and government are *not* secular. We act as though they are much of the time but our government is never shy of reminding us that we have an official and officially-sponsored religion. What Warsi is doing *is* the business of government, even though many of us would prefer it isn’t.

    Not quite true. The UK does not have an established religion, since there is no established church in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

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