Denham's misplaced 'faith group' faith
By AC GRAYLING - GUARDIAN.CO.UK
Added: Mon, 16 Nov 2009 00:00:00 UTC
John Denham, our government's minister for communities, is going to have an advisory body made up of representatives of "faith" groups, further eroding the de facto secularism that has kept our society relatively stable and collegial, at least until recently. He pours scorn on secularists, which means the majority of the population who, whatever their faith or lack of it, are secularist in the sense that they do not wish religion, still less any one particular religion, to be in the driving seat of policymaking in this country.
Apart from the fact that the "faith groups" represent less than 10% of the population – namely, the less-than-10% who go to church, mosque, temple or synagogue regularly each week, and therefore represent no one but themselves and a tiny minority – what does Denham think he is going to learn from them? Are their points of view not extremely well-known and entirely predictable?
Evidently, Denham does not know enough about this. Let us therefore ask him a few questions about what he expects to hear from the faith groups on such matters as community cohesion, discrimination, the rule of law, the treatment of gay people, the rights of women – on all of which, of course, the faith groups have spectacularly marvellous attitudes calculated to maximise peace and inclusion across society.
So, Mr Denham, on community cohesion: do you take into account the fact that the major faiths officially blaspheme one another? For Christians, Muslims are followers of false prophets, and for Muslims, Christians repudiate the teachings of the Prophet. They once went to war with one another repeatedly and bloodily for centuries over these differences. Now – for the time being – they sit at the government's table side by side, their hands eagerly stretched out for our tax money for their faith-based schools and their "community initiatives".
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