More from the Brown files


Andrew Brown has invented a concept he calls “hard secularism” and cites as an example of it “attempts to ban prayer before council meetings.”

Mark Hammond, chief executive of the EHRC, points out that of the four cases on religious liberty that have gone to Strasbourg in the past three years, his organisation has sided with the Christians in two and against them in two. The commission took the view that Christians were not allowed to discriminate against gay people, however sincerely they want to, but it backed their right to wear crosses at work even when the secular courts disagreed.

For the EHRC, this is no more than a slight adjustment of course: a check that it is interpreting the law as it is supposed to be. But I think it is rather more than that and represents the start of a swing of the pendulum away from the kind of hard secularism that regards all forms of religion in public life with suspicion. Examples of that would be attempts to ban prayer before council meetings.

Because it’s just obviously no problem at all when city governments impose prayers on all councilors? Why? Why is that obviously no problem at all?

This is not a move towards the functional re-establishment ofChristianity, which has been effectively disestablished over the past 30 years. If anything, it is prompted by the rising importance of Islam. It is obviously dangerous to social cohesion if the idea gets around that Muslims can get away with things that Christians can’t, and there is some basis for that kind of reasoning. Christians who preach homophobia are sometimes harassed by the police in a way that Muslims who do the same aren’t; if Muslims come to the attention of the police for their beliefs, it is in connection with terrorism rather than crimes against liberal sexual orthodoxy.

“Liberal sexual orthodoxy”? So now Andrew Brown is sneering at gay rights too? Why doesn’t he just move to the Telegraph then and end the confusion?

Comments

  1. says

    Christians who preach homophobia are sometimes harassed by the police in a way that Muslims who do the same aren’t

    Does Mr Brown have any evidence for this? It’s certainly the impression you might get if you read the gutter press, but I would like to see the evidence. As far as I am aware there has been one case of a Christian preacher being arrested for preaching homophobia on the street, and no Muslims preachers who have been arrested for this. But this is a far too small sample to conclude anything from. On the other hand, in the privacy of their churches, mosques and synagogues, preachers of all ilks seem to be able to do so with absolutely no interference from the long arm of the law.

  2. John Morales says

    As Ophelia highlights:

    … the kind of hard secularism that regards all forms of religion in public life with suspicion.

    That’s just regular secularism — in a political context, precisely the separation of government and religion.

    (Not very credible to pay lip-service to the principle while indulging in it)

  3. John Morales says

    Bernard @1, if he could adduce at least two cases of each case, his claim would be technically correct. ;)

    But I agree, it doesn’t seem plausible to me given what I know.

  4. Axxyaan says

    I am not sure I would trust the EHRC. It backed Italy that obligated every class room and every court room to have a cross hanging on the wall.

    Officially we have freedom of conscience right next to freedom of religion but my impression is that your freedom of conscience is taken more seriously if it is inspired by religious rather than secular ideas

  5. Brony says

    If anything, it is prompted by the rising importance of Islam.

    Well the response to communism was just full of reasonableness and common values like that “In God we trust” thing right? There’s now way that these sort of things feeds into religious sense of entitlement that gets them to try to ban the churches of others (the Muslim community center at ground zero, many Mosques getting legally challenged and challenged by vandalism). And that sense of xenophobia and sociopolitical entitlement can’t possibly give us splash damage.

    I’ll stop there, at some point the sarcasm flies right off the rails.

  6. AsqJames says

    …Christianity, which has been effectively disestablished over the past 30 years…

    Someone might want to let the Bishops in the House of Lords know, I mean it’s not like we couldn’t do with freeing up a few seats.

    While we’re at it, we might want to discontinue having the head of state, on advice from the head of the government, choose the Archbishop of Canterbury.

  7. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    The complaint in Bideford (the last place in England to hang someone for witchcraft, incidentally) was not about prayers before council meetings, which would be a matter for individual councillors, but about the fact that council meetings formally began with prayers.

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