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.
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%