In a recent speech the Tory Party Chairperson Lady Warsi said:
‘My fear is that, today, militant secularisation is taking hold of our societies. We see it in a number of things: when signs of religion cannot be displayed or worn in government buildings, and where religion is sidelined and downgraded in the public sphere.
‘For me one of the most worrying aspects about this militant secularisation is that at its core and in its instincts it is deeply intolerant. It demonstrates similar traits to totalitarian regimes – denying people the right to a religious identity because they were frightened of the concept of multiple identities.’
By the way, telling people they can’t carry conspicuous religious symbols or pray at their workplaces or discriminate against gay people because it’s part of their religious beliefs is the ‘militant secularisation’ Warsi is speaking of.
She’s taking her message to the pope who has in the past argued against ‘aggressive forms of secularism’ likening it to the evils of Nazism.
‘Militant secularisation’ is a direct response to religion’s encroachments and intolerance not the other way around. And there is nothing more totalitarian and intolerant than religion in political power. Just look back to the Spanish inquisition of centuries past or today’s Islamic inquisition.
In fact, a secular society allows for religion and atheism but as a private belief. It protects all people including believers since even believers don’t all think alike. Take the example of 23 year old Muslim writer Hamza Kashgari who faces execution for his tweets on Mohammad, Islam’s prophet, versus the Saudi state or those calling for his head.
People can believe what they want but religion in the state, and educational and judicial system has nothing to do with personal belief; it has to do with political power.
Finally the religious lobby is feeling the pressure and it’s about time!
After all let’s not forget that the demand for the separation of religion from the state is because religion is harmful when it is part of the state. And keeping it out is a precondition for safeguarding the most basic rights and freedoms.