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Poll harder, so religion can reassure itself of its relevance

The Baroness Warsi is visiting the Vatican. Why, is not clear: it seems to be an occasion for two devout believers to get together and congratulate each other on the fervency with which each holds their dogma. And there’s just something weird and wrong about it all.

We will be celebrating the decision Margaret Thatcher took 30 years ago to restore full diplomatic relations between our countries. The relationship between the UK and the Holy See is our oldest diplomatic relationship, first established in 1479.

Right there…Catholicism is a country? Am I the only one who finds that disturbing and weird? It’s not something to envy or aspire to: it means that it’s a theocracy.

It’s also dishonest to blithely announce that the UK and Vatican have a long relationship: it hasn’t always been smooth. People of the country of England killed each other for belonging to the country of Catholicism, and vice versa, and much of that history of a relationship has been driven by the tension between an imperialist Vatican and an independent Britain.

I will be arguing for Europe to become more confident and more comfortable in its Christianity. The point is this: the societies we live in, the cultures we have created, the values we hold and the things we fight for all stem from centuries of discussion, dissent and belief in Christianity.

Also, disbelief in Christianity…although expressing that openly could have got you burnt at the stake, once upon a time. It’s not right to insist that the history of Europe is entirely Christian, when dissent from such views was rigidly suppressed. I’d also argue that the great virtues of European culture arose more from a humanist tradition than any dogma. Art and science, engineering and industry are not religious fiefdoms.

Religion is the diaper of humanity’s childhood; it’s OK to grow out of it.

My fear today is that a militant secularisation is taking hold of our societies. We see it in any number of things: when signs of religion cannot be displayed or worn in government buildings; when states won’t fund faith schools; and where religion is sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere.

It seems astonishing to me that those who wrote the European Constitution made no mention of God or Christianity. When I denounced this tendency two days before the Holy Father’s State Visit in September 2010, saying that government should “do God”, I received countless messages of support. The overwhelming message was: “At last someone has said it”.

Yeah, it’s always easy to suck up to the teat of comfortable superstitions, and people will always applaud you for it. It doesn’t mean you’re right.

It’s good that the European Constitution ignores gods; the American Constitution does likewise. These are concepts that are totally irrelevant and often destructive to real world understanding. And it is not militant to suggest that a government of all should avoid endorsing sectarian religion, because we know exactly where that support of specific, untestable, and nonsensical myths leads: to pointless conflict over arbitrary bits of belief. It is also telling that she wants government to fund “faith schools”—what the hell can they teach, if it’s based on faith? Reason and evidence are universal values that everyone, believer and unbeliever, should learn and can use. Teach the core of truth and reality…and yes, push superstitious dogma off to the fringes and marginalize it.

Of course there is a poll, because foolishness loves company to reassure itself that it isn’t quite as dumb as it seems. Maybe you should go over there and marginalize religion some more.

Are you worried by the threat of militant secularism in Britain?

Marginalising religion is a form of intolerance seen in totalitarian regimes 22.04%
People should worship in private and not display religious symbols in public 15.97%
People should feel proud to worship in public and display their faith 15.84%
Secularisation is not a threat to this country 46.15%

Comments

  1. says

    The problem with people ‘failing to believe’ is that it undermines the unwarranted authority given to theocrats of all kinds. I have no idea who Baroness Warsi is, but I have no desire to hand her authority over my thoughts under any circumstances.

  2. says

    Why am I subjecting myself to the comments?

    Why indeed should religion dare to show its face in public.

    How you secularists forget, or is it mere ignorance? Do you even realise even half of what Christianity has brought you? Universities, the scientific method, the rule of law, the triumph of reason above chaos, the preservation of knowledge from the antiquities (you can thank the monks for that). You can also thank the monks for champagne, for bloody great beer.

    What do you atheists bring to the world? A nihilistic philisophy of nothing, a sense that all we are are random interchanges of atoms…chaos…then nothing.

    Religion brings love, the idea of self-sacrifice for a nobler cause. Love is what we are, without it we are nothing. Atheism gives nothing to the world – why should THAT be the model that has a privileged place in the world?

  3. says

    the values we hold and the things we fight for all stem from centuries of discussion, dissent and belief in Christianity.

    Well, she got two out of three things right.

    BTW, there’s no such thing as a European constitution. There’s a worthless, non-ratified piece of paper.

  4. laschesis says

    Here’s her stats :-

    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/peer/baroness_warsi

    Basically she’s not accountable to the public as she’s a peer – and as a woman and a Muslim allows the government to look good by ticking a double minority.

    I say this as a a person who is female, bi and disabled – but I guess I won’t be made a peer of the realm any time soon :(

    The House of Lords does do good work – when its allowed to, HOWEVER, I still think its an anachronism, and a damn sad reflection on the country when the privileged minority is the only group protecting you from your elected representatives.

  5. David Marjanović says

    Where is the poll?

    The Daily Mash

    And once again it pays off that I’ve trained to laugh without switching my vocal cords on. For a minute straight.

  6. says

    Right there…Catholicism is a country?

    Yeah — a country that surprisingly few Catholics actually want to live in. Seriously, how many people are exclusively citizens of that country and no other? How much residential space does the “Holy See” actually have?

  7. David Marjanović says

    BTW, when various Christian groups – including Catholic politicians – wanted to have God mentioned in the European constitution, the Catholic Church said “no” after a few months: their argument was that God was too great to be squeezed into something as human as a constitution.

    The Daily Mail: more Catholic than the Pope! And as Catholic as Andreas Khol.

  8. David Marjanović says

    Seriously, how many people are exclusively citizens of that country and no other?

    About 1000.

    How much residential space does the “Holy See” actually have?

    The total area is 0.44 km².

    Highest population density of any country by far !!

  9. peterh says

    Doesn’t yer jes’ love the way “militant” has become an all-purpose adjective? Like “like” or “whatever,” it’s coming to have absolutely no meaning whatever.

  10. carlie says

    I am always annoyed when secularism and atheism get conflated. Lots of Christians are adamant secularists; hell, they kind of started that idea.

  11. Randomfactor says

    Right there…Catholicism is a country?

    A furrin’ country that wants control over the way other countries’ laws are written and executed.

    Won’t someone inform the Republicans? What was that hoopla over not applying other nations’ laws in making our own?

  12. mutantdragon says

    I LOVE that line about how religion is “the diaper of humanity’s childhood” and it’s time to outgrow it now. That sums it up just perfectly. I’m going to have to borrow that line — not for my blog, because I try to keep the blog religion & politics neutral, but for the next time I’m talking to a Believer about this kind of stuff.

  13. says

    If learning that the Vatican is a sovereign state shocked you I’m almost afraid to point out that the UK is a de jure theocracy as well. That said, is this some sort of lame rhetorical hook or do you really have such a flimsy grasp of European history?

  14. says

    If there were such a thing as “militant secularism” in the UK (or in Canada), I would indeed be worried about it. If roving gangs of atheists were invading churches on Sunday morning and beating up the congregation, I would condemn it in the strongest terms, and want to see the perpetrators arrested and prosecuted.

    But since I see no likelihood of that happening, no I’m not too worried. (Hint to the Telegraph: mildly-worded bus ads, and telling churches/mosques/etc that they don’t get to order the lives of non-members, is not “militant”. If anything, doing the opposite, is).

  15. frog says

    “The relationship between the UK and the Holy See is our oldest diplomatic relationship, first established in 1479.”

    Presumably she then went on to say, “But we’re going to overlook that whole Henry VIII business. He didn’t really mean to start a whole new religion and put himself on equal footing with the pope.”

    I’m trying to figure out where she gets 1479 as the start. What happened that year? Presumably England was already under the old Catholic church, no? I distinctly remember them not being pagan.

    That is some good crack they’re smoking over there.

  16. marko says

    I am always annoyed when secularism and atheism get conflated

    Drives me up the wall as well. Not that I will let them off with saying that atheism is a bad thing, but they seem to be tying up a freedom of religious beliefs with the ‘evil’ of the godless.

    The poll is also a bit of a nonsense:
    “People should worship in private and not display religious symbols in public” – Seems a bit totalitarian
    I was inclined to vote “Secularisation is not a threat to this country”, but I don’t think it is intended the way I want to take it. No I don’t think secularisation is a threat, I think it is a positive we should be we should be actively striving for.

  17. Peter Cranny says

    1479 in English history was right in the middle of The Wars of the Roses – a gang turf-war between descendants of King Edward III, rather than a religious one. Wikipedia shows that year as one in which nothing notable happened!

    The BBC version of the Baroness Warsi story has some interesting reader comments, mostly along the lines of “religion? get over it.”

  18. ianm says

    bb..bb.. but the Roman Catholic Church isn’t a Christian religion, it is a Roman religion founded on neo-platonic notions and dressed up with the Christ story.

  19. Moggie says

    I particularly liked this para from the Guardian:

    Implicitly rejecting multiculturalism, Warsi, the first female Muslim to serve as a minister, will say that the best way to encourage social harmony is to put Christianity at the centre of public life.

    It’s only thanks to Britain’s secular multiculturalism that she has her job! Would a country which truly put “Christianity at the centre of public life” – a Christian theocracy, in other words – grant such power to a Muslim woman?

  20. says

    David,

    are you sure they don’t keep their original citizenship?

    You lose your Vatican City citizenship upon leaving the position with which you were accorded it. If you end up stateless, there is a treaty provision that gives you Italian citizenship.

    So I’d find that hard to believe that they’d all single-passport holders.

  21. I'm_not says

    David Marjanović says:
    14 February 2012 at 8:31 am
    Seriously, how many people are exclusively citizens of that country and no other?

    About 1000.

    How much residential space does the “Holy See” actually have?

    The total area is 0.44 km².

    Highest population density of any country by far !!

    Blimey, not much woods for him to shit in then?

  22. brocasbrian says

    Fun fact: The “Holy See” has the lowest age of consent in Europe coming in at age 12. Surprised it’s so high actually.

    And, what is so militant about the new atheist movement? Are we saying hateful and disparaging things about some deeply held fairy tales. Sure. Is that militant by any stretch of the imagination?

  23. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    Can we please revoke Vatican’s right to call itself a state already?
    Or let it be, but divorce it completely from the Holy See. A religious organization should not have a right to use its pretend-state to proselytize and preach.

  24. brocasbrian says

    The age of reason, when children become capable of moral responsibility, is 7 so I guess that explains a lot.

  25. says

    Beatrice,

    it’s more complicated. The papal nuncios usually represent the Holy See, which is also the entity that usually established diplomatic relations with other countries. It’s not possible at this time to separate the two.

  26. Moggie says

    brocasbrian:

    Fun fact: The “Holy See” has the lowest age of consent in Europe coming in at age 12. Surprised it’s so high actually.

    Citation needed. AFAIK, it simply uses Italy’s law in this case.

  27. says

    I LOVE that line about how religion is “the diaper of humanity’s childhood”

    It’s full of crap. And it stinks. And when it overflows into places it shouldn’t, well it’s hell to clean it up. And no matter how many times you change it, until you totally get rid of it, you’re still hanging onto a load of shit.

    Also, please don’t pull it out and show everybody. Only your parents, who stuck you in it, should have to deal with it.

    I could probably keep going. (And yes I’ve got a toddler at home, why do you ask?)

  28. theophontes, Hexanitroisowurtzitanverwendendes_Bärtierchen says

    By your leave my Liege. (We are now at 51%.)

    IIRC Mussolini gave the Vatican it’s land in exchange for their backing off from interfering with his attempts to corrupt the school-going youth. The lands also include some little hick town in the hills, where the Pope can retire and take in the fresh air.

  29. says

    “People of the country of England killed each other for belonging to the country of Catholicism, and vice versa, and much of that history of a relationship has been driven by the tension between an imperialist Vatican and an independent Britain.”

    Not to mention an imperialist Britain and a wanting-to-be-independant Ireland, but whatever.

    Also, aren’t questions 2 and 4 kind of splitting the vote? Is there anyone that thinks that people should worship in private that DOESNT think that secularisation is not a threat?

  30. simonsays says

    What is Warsi talking about? There is no ‘European Constitution’.

    The Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (TCE), (commonly referred to as the European Constitution or as the Constitutional Treaty), was an unratified international treaty intended to create a consolidated constitution for the European Union (EU). It would have replaced the existing European Union treaties with a single text, given legal force to the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and expanded Qualified Majority Voting into policy areas which had previously been decided by unanimity among member states.

    The Treaty was signed on 29 October 2004 by representatives of the then 25 EU member states. It was later ratified by 18 member states, which included referenda endorsing it in Spain and Luxembourg.

    However the rejection of the document by French and Dutch voters in May and June 2005 brought the ratification process to an end.

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_establishing_a_Constitution_for_Europe

  31. says

    Also, I’d like to repeat my claim whenever we talk about the Vatican:

    while revoking the various treaties with the Vatican might not be politically possible at the moment, at least get rid of the stupid convention that the papal nuncio automatically becomes the doyen of the diplomatic corps. There is absolutely no justification to continue this practice!

  32. says

    What is Warsi talking about? There is no ‘European Constitution’.

    To be fair, I do remember a huge outcry, especially from Poland, when the constitution was being crafted. It’s true it didn’t take effect, but it was a subject of debate across Europe back then.

  33. PFC Ogvorbis (Yes, they are) says

    Religion is the diaper of humanity’s childhood; it’s OK to grow out of it.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! What a perfect image.

    what the hell can they teach, if it’s based on faith?

    They teach the stuff the real schools don’t: xenophobia, homophobia, hate, etc.

    Highest population density of any country by far !!

    Yeah. How can a nation’s population be so dense? Next thing you know, their press’ll be covering Santorum as a serious candidate!

    Blimey, not much woods for him to shit in then?

    Not to worry. They export their shit all over the world.

    Which goes nicely with PZ’s diaper quote.

  34. ajbjasus says

    I wonder in my cynicism if Warsi is using the general “faith” trojan horse to also attempt to legitimise Islam.

    “all stem from centuries of discussion, dissent and belief in Christianity.” Weren’t we Pagan first?

    I also hate the assertion which none of the media ever seem to take “people of faith” to task on, that removing their right to tell others that they are going to “burn in Hell”, or impose their stone age (and often contradictory) morals on others is persecuting them.

  35. Beatrice, anormalement indécente says

    it’s more complicated.

    Oh well, I didn’t really harbor any high hopes that it was simple.

    It would be nice if other countries at least acknowledged the ridiculousness of a situation where a representative from another country comes to a strictly political visit and then holds a mass.

    while revoking the various treaties with the Vatican might not be politically possible at the moment, at least get rid of the stupid convention that the papal nuncio automatically becomes the doyen of the diplomatic corps. There is absolutely no justification to continue this practice!

    Yes, please.

  36. qwerty says

    peterh @ 11:

    They only describe secularists as “militant” as it sounds better than “secular fascists.”

    I agree with you that “militant” has lost its meaning (or edge perhaps) along with “fascist” as in Islamofascist.

    But to them, anyone saying “I don’t believe” threatens their beliefs and is therefore “militant.”

  37. David Marjanović says

    *headdesk* Biggest reading comprehension fail in months. I managed to read “exclusively citizens of that country and no other” as just “citizens of that country”.

    So, I should have written “no”.

    The lands also include some little hick town in the hills, where the Pope can retire and take in the fresh air.

    Not part of the Vatican State.

  38. Mr. Fire says

    Religion is the diaper of humanity’s childhood; it’s OK to grow out of it.

    Too kind. Implies that it was necessarily part of the process.

    How about it being the rash that resulted from keeping on the diaper of uncritical thinking for too long?

  39. says

    My fear today is that a militant secularisation is taking hold of our societies. We see it in any number of things: when signs of religion cannot be displayed or worn in government buildings; when states won’t fund faith schools; and where religion is sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere.

    My fear today is that common sense is taking hold of our societies. When silly hats are no longer worn in government offices; When 2christian” prayer is no longer forced on everyone, when states won’t fund schools teaching factually incorrect, misogynistic crap; and where child rapists are sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere.

  40. Draken says

    Arguably, the Holy See is the only dicatorship left in Europe. And a theocracy on top of that. And a non-protestant, antisemitic one. I really think the US should invade and liberate it.

  41. Brownian says

    “At last someone has said it”

    For a belief system that insists on idiocies such as the armour of God and death but being a doorway to a much greater and eternal life, how come Christians are so spineless that they need to congratulate themselves as heroes every time one of their own violates Christ’s injunction to pray in a closet?

  42. Active Margin says

    I see it as a futile exercise, a religious circle jerk, if you will. However, I find a degree of pleasure when the religious circle their wagons together to fend off threats to their superstitions.

    To me, it shows we free thinkers are making progress.

  43. kemist says

    Militant Neutrality.

    “I hate these filthy Neutrals, Kif. With enemies you know where they stand but with Neutrals, who knows? It sickens me. ”

    – Zapp Branningan

  44. says

    nah, Draken,

    we still have Liechtenstein*) and Belarus. And probably Russia, if that qualifies as Europe for you.

    *) some other micro-nations might be equally fishy, like Andorra or Monaco, but I don’t know enough about them…

  45. Rey Fox says

    a sense that all we are are random interchanges of atoms…chaos…then nothing.

    Throw some sunny days, friends, and beer in there and you got a nice existence.

    Religion brings love, the idea of self-sacrifice for a nobler cause.

    What cause? And what makes it noble? They never seem to answer those questions.

    It’s only thanks to Britain’s secular multiculturalism that she has her job! Would a country which truly put “Christianity at the centre of public life” – a Christian theocracy, in other words – grant such power to a Muslim woman?

    It’s the grand tradition of pulling up the clubhouse ladder.

  46. Moggie says

    Draken:

    Arguably, the Holy See is the only dicatorship left in Europe. And a theocracy on top of that. And a non-protestant, antisemitic one. I really think the US should invade and liberate it.

    And they have a stockpile of missals!

  47. peterh says

    ” Religion is the diaper of humanity’s childhood; it’s OK to grow out of it.

    Too kind. Implies that it was necessarily part of the process.”

    Diapers are not truly a necessary part of the child-rearing process (some cultures do not have them) but a great many folks do find them far preferable to the alternative.

  48. truthspeaker says

    Draken says:
    14 February 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Arguably, the Holy See is the only dicatorship left in Europe.

    Only if you ignore Belarus and Russia.

  49. revjimbob says

    “militant secularisation”
    Secular = neutral in religion.
    Therefore ‘militant secularisation’ = ‘militant neutrality’

  50. Rich Woods says

    @Moggie and Draken:

    Arguably, the Holy See is the only dicatorship left in Europe. And a theocracy on top of that. And a non-protestant, antisemitic one. I really think the US should invade and liberate it.

    And an invasion would be fairly cheap as well. You wouldn’t need any B-2′s or Reaper drones, just half a dozen hefty blokes armed with pointy sticks.

  51. says

    @44: Too kind. Implies that [religion] was necessarily part of the process.

    According to the theories of religion I find most likely, it was probably inevitable (not quite the same as “necessary”) that we would invent something of the sort — just as it was inevitable that we would also invent slavery, war and assorted other horrors.

    We’ve mostly gotten rid of the first, the death toll from the second is considerably lower than it used to be, even within my lifetime, and we’re working with some success on many of our other issues. Among our successes, we’ve invented a form of society in which religious affiliation is largely irrelevant, and therefore religion itself increasingly comes to be seen as unnecessary. All we have to do is keep it up….

  52. ikesolem says

    You’d think they wouldn’t want to bring up the world ‘militant’ side-by-side with religion given things like the right-wing Christian militant poster boy, Anders Behring Breivik. There are a few Islamic variants on that theme, as well.

    Perhaps they’re trying to tap into fear-of-the-Godless-communists concepts, having forgotten that the Cold War ended in 1989, more or less. The Chinese Army will blow up all the churches after invading … a hard sell, that one. Reminiscent of Chuck Norris in Invasion USA, or Red Dawn, 1980s-era Cold War hype. Remember when the Islamic freedom fighters were our friends in the struggle against the Godless Commies? Those were the good ol’ days, fightin’ the evil empire… if we could just go back in time.

    Nobody could say it like Ronald Reagan: “This generation may be the one that will face Armageddon.”

    “The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died.” – Revelations

    To tell you the truth, I think Lovecraft’s version is more dramatic:

    “Down through the aether I saw the accursed earth turning, ever turning, with angry and tempestuous seas gnawing at wild desolate shores and dashing foam against the tottering towers of deserted cities. And under a ghastly moon there gleamed sights I can never describe, sights I can never forget; deserts of corpse-like clay and jungles of ruin and decadence where once stretched the populous plains and villages of my native land, and maelstroms of frothing ocean where once rose the mighty temples of my forefathers…”

  53. Gregory Greenwood says

    My fear today is that a militant secularisation is taking hold of our societies.

    Whenever I encounter anyone who talks about ‘militant secularism’ with a straight face I know I am dealing with a moron.

    It seems that Warsi (not to mention her de facto boss, Cameron) is just another moron, but sadly this one is in government…

  54. Moggie says

    Rich Woods:

    And an invasion would be fairly cheap as well. You wouldn’t need any B-2′s or Reaper drones, just half a dozen hefty blokes armed with pointy sticks.

    Oh yeah? I’d like to see your blokes go up against these guys. They’re so bastard hard that they don’t even need camouflage.

  55. KG says

    we still have Liechtenstein*) and Belarus. And probably Russia, if that qualifies as Europe for you. – pelamun

    Also Georgia and Azerbaijan. Moldova is a bit iffy.

    some other micro-nations might be equally fishy, like Andorra or Monaco, but I don’t know enough about them…

    Andorra’s reasonably democratic, despite its odd constitution (the President of France and some Spanish bishop are joint heads of state) – although IIRC a large proportion of residents are not citizens and so don’t get to vote. Monaco is still in fact run by the Grimaldis, despite being in law a constitutional monarchy. San Marino is democratic.

  56. KG says

    Nobody could say it like Ronald Reagan: “This generation may be the one that will face Armageddon.” – ikesolem

    Well, he was in a position to set it going!

  57. carpenterman says

    It’s probably not a coincidence that a Baroness is bemoaning religions decreasing power in politics. The concept of aristocracy is as out of date and fallacious as religion itself. Both are remnants of an earlier time, both nothing but justifications of the few for holding power over the many.

  58. says

    KG,

    All EU members give up part of their sovereignty by becoming part of it. The Greek government is still free to reject EU demands.

  59. Matt Penfold says

    It’s probably not a coincidence that a Baroness is bemoaning religions decreasing power in politics. The concept of aristocracy is as out of date and fallacious as religion itself. Both are remnants of an earlier time, both nothing but justifications of the few for holding power over the many.

    Warsi is many things, but one of is not aristocracy. She is a life-peer, not a hereditary peer. The title dies with her. She also does not have an especially privilidged backgroud.Her parents were immigrants from Pakistan. Her father was a reasonably successful business man, not rich. She did not attend fee-paying schools.

    There is a lot to take the Baroness to task for, such as just why did Cameron think her suitable to enter the House of Lords after she failed to get elected as an MP, so there is no need to make stuff up.

  60. sc_b606d96be3a9d79b5f47f915b6533b7e says

    “The relationship between the UK and the Holy See is our oldest diplomatic relationship, first established in 1479.”
    Small problem, the United Kingdom did not exist in 1479, it came into existence in 1707.

    “Right there…Catholicism is a country? Am I the only one who finds that disturbing and weird? It’s not something to envy or aspire to: it means that it’s a theocracy.”
    You can thank Mussolini for that.

    “I will be arguing for Europe to become more confident and more comfortable in its Christianity.”
    Does that include the millions of Muslims, Jews, and atheists that live in Europe? I didn’t realize it was a homogeneous continent.

    “I’d also argue that the great virtues of European culture arose more from a humanist tradition than any dogma.”
    It speaks to the incoherence of Christianity that it gave rise to so much secularism.

  61. says

    Matt,

    though it probably is time to get rid of the House of Lords. An upper chamber that is government-appointed is usually something associated with dictatorships*)…

    The Irish have something similar I think, and the state of Bavaria used to have it, but they got rid of it…

    *) with the exception that in federations, an upper chamber is often appointed by state governments, as the original US Senate or the German Bundesrat, or the Swiss Ständerat and what have you.

    sc,

    the Papal States did exist before Mussolini… /pet peeve

  62. sc_b606d96be3a9d79b5f47f915b6533b7e says

    The Papal States were abolished during the Italian unification. Vatican City was established by the Lateran treaty. So you are wrong, and that further illustrates how wrong she is.

  63. bryanfeir says

    Highest population density of any country by far !!

    And, as I recall, the lowest birth rate (0.00%).

  64. says

    sc,

    no, the Papal States was disestablished twice, the first time by Napoleon in 1798, and then in 1870, but was reestablished every time after that.

    I don’t know what people always want to achieve by pointing to Mussolini. It’s not like the history of the Catholic church as a country started with Mussolini…

  65. sc_b606d96be3a9d79b5f47f915b6533b7e says

    Yes, “disestablished,” which means that they no longer existed after 1870. Vatican City was something new, which was established in the 1920s by a treaty with Mussolini, which is what I originally said in response to PZ’s comment. The Papal States are something else from an earlier period. Lack of historical comprehension is my pet peeve.

    It speaks to the moral integrity (or lack thereof) of the Catholic Church that it was so willing to coddle with Fascist regimes, Mussolini’s Italy being only one example. Pius XI supposedly called Mussolini a “gift of Providence.” I find it ironic when religious apologists talk about the “dangers” of secularism and how it led to Fascism; Fascist Italy was an officially Catholic state.

  66. says

    Countries change names, treaties have been used to bring countries back, when they had been dissolved before. Where you see discontinuity, I see continuity. History can be interpreted in several ways, your accusation of “lack of historical comprehension” is meaningless.

    Your emphasis of the church coddling with fascism is nothing particularly new either. In earlier times, the church had sought the proximity and support of powerful despots as well.

  67. sc_b606d96be3a9d79b5f47f915b6533b7e says

    Vatican City as it exists today did not exist prior to the ’20s, which is all I said. You can interpret that however you wish, but what I said is correct. Mussolini was indeed not the first or last despot that Catholic hierarchy have cooperated with. The Catholic Church has a long and often sordid history.

  68. says

    I never said you weren’t correct in saying that a state with the name Vatican City didn’t exist before the 1920s.

    It’s just that every time I hear this comment, and this is not the first time, “we have Mussolini to thank for that”, I wonder why this emphasis on Mussolini.

    But enough of this.

  69. sc_b606d96be3a9d79b5f47f915b6533b7e says

    Well, I explained Mussolini’s relevance. That this state created with the cooperation of a Fascist dictatorship gives Catholicism privileges that other faiths do not have, particularly during the abuse scandal, is worthy of some ire. But, yes, enough of that.

  70. mikee says

    those damn stinking militant secularists. It is disgusting how some of them use their beliefs to discriminate against women and homosexuals, how if a woman offends them they can throw acid in her face, imprison or kill her. How they encourage the spread of AIDS by opposing condoms, and uncontrolled population growth through opposition to birth control. How they interrupt lectures on human rights because the topic offends them.
    They are truly disgusting, and what is worse those that don’t carry out these actions, watch silently from the sidelines

    Oooops, did I say secularists, I meant theocrats… silly me.

  71. mikee says

    @carpenterman #66

    Excellent point. Many of those who frown upon the behaviours justified under the guise of religion will also point out the inanities of the aristocracy.
    Once the opium of the masses is removed, the validity of the aristocracy will be questioned.

  72. DLC says

    Bloody Witch-doctors. you can’t trust them as far as you can throw their gilded domes by the white smoke coming out of them.

  73. kingbollock says

    I have to say, being from the UK, that this Government’s pandering to the Churches makes me absolutely sick. And it’s the way they go about it that makes it all so much worse, it’s the lies they tell.
    And it’s not just this that they have been caught out lying about to push their crooked agendas. You should see the tactics they’re using to screw over the NHS and the sick and disabled.

  74. redgreeninblue says

    Sadly, it has been reverted, but earlier this morning, the intro to the Wikipedia article on Sayeeda Warsi read:

    Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, Baroness Warsi (Urdu: سعیده حسین وارثی, born 28 March 1971) is a British lawyer and politician who has difficulty grasping the concept of Separation of Church and State[1] . She is the co-Chairman of the Conservative Party (with The Lord Feldman of Elstree).

    By the way, can we drop the “Baroness” shit, at least on a US site, please? The “honours” system has morphed over time from a means of rewarding pillage rapine which enriched the king, to a means of rewarding generous party donors, or ministers’ friends in big business. The awarding of OBEs and the like to prominent scientists or campaigners for social justice is just an unfortunate but necessary cover story, a way to pretend that the system is in any way meritocratic.

    And even if the system were intended as a way of honouring outstanding contributions to society, rather than outstandingly greedy bankers, Warsi has far less reason to be given an honour than does my wife. My wife works her socks off as an PICU consultant, and has simultaneously managed to set up an entire new regional service for emergency transport of critically-ill children from general hospitals to intensive care. Warsi has been a prominent member of the political party which is trying to dismantle and privatise the NHS for which my wife works (while being wealthy enough to afford the private health insurance which will become necessary as the NHS disappears); she approved election campaign material containing homophobic slurs; and she has a history of making ill-considered and ill-informed comments on various issues. “Baroness”? Yes, and about as principled as any baron of the old days.

  75. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    @ pelamun, #72
    You’d think. The weird thing is that the House of Lords has had a hand in scuppering some the more retarded crap that various recent governments have tried to push through. Yes, the Commons can override the Lords (once the bill has been bounced back twice IIRC) but it’s seen as being rather bad form.
    I fucking hate our political system, by the way. Not a fan of bishops getting HoL seats, not a fan of hereditory peers… but oddly I’m less of a fan of appointed/life peers. Changing this to a democratically elected top house, I have to say, won’t help because most of us English don’t give a flying fuck about politics in general, outside of specific issues, and in many cases actively distrust politicians as an entire class.

  76. says

    Hairy Chris,

    elected upper houses are usually engineered to be less partisan than the lower house, or make it at least harder for one party to dominate. This can be done by:

    - longer terms (US Senate, Japanese House of Councillors)
    - different electoral system (US Senate, Australia). For the UK one could envision an upper house relying on a proportionate system (though it would probably be even better if the Commons switched to such a system. The first-past-the-post system just leads to one party winning the majority without winning the popular vote (to the effect that coalition governments are considered anomalous in the UK)

    Under the current system, I see a danger that the government in power has too much say about life peers (similarly for the Senate of Canada). There are some checks and balances, of course, but for instance, while Blair appointed 354 life peers in 10 years, and Brown 34 in 3, Cameron has appointed 120 in 2. (Statistically speaking Labour PMs have appointed 27 peers per year, and Tory PMs 20, but this could change now that most of the hereditary peers are gone).

  77. says

    Mr. Meyers:

    As a fan, I always appreciate your notifications of these pseudo-polls. However, your “Catholicism is a country?” comments could be taken as a point of ignorance or extreme pedantry. Of course they were speaking of the Vatican, which, yes, is a country, and yes, is a theocracy. (The Holy See, if I understand correctly, is a distinct entity with a distinct passport system. They handle diplomatic relations and enter into treaties on behalf of the Vatican, I believe.)

    Interestingly, the pope has full and absolute executive, legislative and judicial power over Vatican City. He is currently the only absolute monarch in Europe.

    I would be interested in comparing the area of the Vatican to that of all of its embassies around the world and see which is larger. I bet the embassies are larger!

  78. Corporal Ogvorbis (Would that be considered punishment?) says

    Mr. Meyers:

    sigh

    If it were not so predictable, it would almost be funny.

    Almost.

  79. TimKO,,.,, says

    Can we please revoke Vatican’s right to call itself a state already?

    Actually it would be pretty funny if the UN and, say, UK stopped recognition. And the EU wouldn’t let them use currency. Who knows, at the rate Europe is secularizing it may happen. “Guess what pontoon (pontiff), you’re just a church not a freaking country so stop dressing like you’re in the Klan and stop it with the young boys”.