Seriously, we are intolerant!?

Below is my speech at my first ever QED Conference in Manchester.

It’s a real pleasure to be here. It’s my first QED and for that matter skeptic event. I’m grateful for the things I have learnt this weekend. I have to admit that I would most probably never have attended a talk about werewolves (by Deborah Hyde) but I am really glad that I have.

It made me realise that I and many like me are Islamism’s witches and werewolves – the heretics and blasphemers of our age.

In this talk I want to focus on why secularism is so important – not just for us heretics and apostates – but for everyone, including the religious.

In that sense – secularism is not anti- the religious. In fact it’s a precondition for freedom of religion and atheism because private beliefs are not the concern of a secular state. It’s not for the state to enforce religion or atheism. The state is not involved in the business of religion (and it is a business).

Whilst secularism is good for people – even religious people, it’s not good for the religion industry because don’t forget religion in the state, and educational and judicial system has nothing to do with personal belief; it has everything to do with political power. And therefore, the fight for secularism is also a battle against religion in political power.

Let’s be frank. There is a demand for the separation of religion from the state because it is harmful when it is part of the state, or judicial and educational systems. Because as I often like to say, like cigarettes religion should come with a health warning: Religion Kills. It kills. And Islam is central to this debate on secularism.

The Conservative Minister Warsi’s recent message to the pope (like he needs convincing) is that ‘militant secularism at its core and in its instincts is deeply intolerant and demonstrates traits similar to totalitarian regimes.’

Militant really!? If only.

For the record, I think militancy is a very good thing. We need more militancy against religion.

But secularism intolerant!? Rather it’s religion that is intolerant and totalitarian when in power and why it must be kept out of the state.

If you look at the examples that Warsi is referring to as ‘intolerant’ the absurdity of it all become clearer.

It reminds me of a recent Jesus and Mo cartoon:

Here’s some of the things Warsi is referring to as ‘intolerant’: [Read more…]