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Religion: respecting the minority - Comments

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 1 by Alan4discussion

In the latest 2010 BSA report, published earlier this month, only 42% said they were Christians while 51% now say they have no religion.

Good news which should kill the silly claims of the religious groups about numbers, and make some politicians take note!

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 23:44:05 UTC | #568609

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 2 by Neodarwinian

The inexorable march. It will be much easier to respect the dwindling religious when they have passed the " dwindle point. " The point where no one pays them much attention and their influence is benign.

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 23:46:29 UTC | #568611

yyarovyy's Avatar Comment 3 by yyarovyy

"since all schoolchildren knew and sang hymns and studied the Bible even if they did not believe in it"

Of course, it makes sense that atheists should not be studying the Bible because... Christians study it? That must be it!

"the importance of tolerance towards the faiths is not diminishing but increasing" We should be careful making such generic claims. Somehow I think the author would have a problem with the religiously inspired female genital mutilation despite claiming that "tolerance" is oh-so-important.

Fri, 24 Dec 2010 23:49:52 UTC | #568612

Zelig's Avatar Comment 4 by Zelig

Unlike the author, I certainly don't see secularism in the UK in the ascendancy, quite the reverse. Nor do I feel the slightest obligation to "respect" or "tolerate" a belief system simply because it's followers happen to be a numerical minority.

Too much of the "liberal-left" now habitually conflate two very distinct principles. Respecting the right of others to have their opinions is, of course, immensely important and valuable. Respecting the opinion itself, however, regardless of the content, is a dangerous stupidity that cannot be sufficiently emphasised.

There's a glaring subtext to this piece that should be obvious to anyone with moderately good eyesight.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 00:23:21 UTC | #568620

gsalias's Avatar Comment 5 by gsalias

I feel envy of all my friend in Britain that can feel the joy of being a secular nation, here in mexico we still strugle to break free of th wedge that the religious mayoriti impose on the rest of the society.

But i feel that it is by your example that we shall continue to fight the good fight and have the world rid of the evil that is organiced religion.

Have a merry saturnalia and let us be thankfull for the teachings of Sir Issac Newton how came and change the world for ever.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 00:42:25 UTC | #568624

edwords's Avatar Comment 6 by edwords

Did someone mention hymns? Hark! The atheist carollers approach!

              O come all ye faithful
              Christian,Jew,and Muslim
              O come down this freethought road 
              That lights up the night


              Question your prophets
              Do what you believe is right.

              O come let us choose reason
              To lead us through this season
              And if accused of treason
              We shall prevail.

              ---------------------------

              O come skeptic choirs
              Quench eternal fires
              Don't follow the glimmer 
              Of that mind-blinding Star

              Fact over fiction
              Superstition nevermore

              O let us not adore him
              O let us not implore him
              O come let's just ignore him
              Truth is the "Lord"!

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 00:57:30 UTC | #568627

Feuerbach's Avatar Comment 7 by Feuerbach

Thank god for that.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 01:41:36 UTC | #568633

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 8 by Steve Zara

Comment Removed by Author

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 01:44:34 UTC | #568634

The Plc's Avatar Comment 9 by The Plc

Yes, in our increasingly secular society we'll give the religious the freedoms they refused to give to freethinkers for centuries. Please, just stop ramming religious superstition down our throats.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 02:27:31 UTC | #568642

WonderNerd's Avatar Comment 10 by WonderNerd

Political parties led by open atheists? DAMN! Nonreligious are the MAJORITY in the UK!?!?! This made my day, although we're still way behind you in the states, but the new polls showing less Creationism here are still hopeful. But 50ish%!!! DAMN.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 04:43:14 UTC | #568659

Hideous Dwarf's Avatar Comment 11 by Hideous Dwarf

I do wonder what has actually changed over the past several years; whether it is that increasing numbers of people have lost their faith, or that more of the already faithless have found the courage to speak out. I suspect the latter. In the past, when a form asked 'what religion?' the standard reply for the non-religious was 'C of E', this probably out of a fear of disapproval or discrimination. Now we see cases of NHS and other government departmental staff being disciplined for overtly religious activity - probably more out of respect for Muslim sensibilities than atheist, but welcome nonetheless.

For this awakening of faithlessness (and honesty) we owe a great debt of gratitude to our mentor, Richard Dawkins, to The Hitch and all the other speakers of reason. My thanks to you all.

As for Christmas, all but the tiniest minority now regard it as exclusively a day for honouring the birth of the founder, with most Christians simply briefly acknowledging Jesus before getting on with the fun and feasting, and the great majority ignoring the 'holy birth' altogether. What we have left is the purloining by Christians of the name of the festival to celebrate the turn of the year and the lengthening of the days. It's a name we have become used to and as good as any other...

...so may I wish everyone a Very Happy Christmas and every good fortune in the New Year.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 06:04:09 UTC | #568667

beanson's Avatar Comment 12 by beanson

a development that would have astonished our ancestors who built a Britain on the basis that we were and would remain a predominantly Protestant people

arbitrary/chauvanistic temporal choice

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 07:09:40 UTC | #568674

Firef00t's Avatar Comment 13 by Firef00t

This is the first time I've felt truly optimistic that religion's days are numbered. To be fair, this isn't as huge a mile stone as I feel it is, but I think once you hit that 50% mark it's downhill from there (downhill, being a few decades with plenty of hard work). By that point, it seems religion is doomed to eventually fade into obscurity, though it fight this fate every moment it can. I think this century is going to be a bad one for religion, in both Britain and America. True, we're behind the British, but it's gaining momentum, slowly but surely. Perhaps I'm overly and ridiculously optimistic, but this is the first encouraging sign I've had in a while.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 08:08:41 UTC | #568682

Vicktor's Avatar Comment 14 by Vicktor

Comment 11 by Hideous Dwarf

I do wonder what has actually changed over the past several years; whether it is that increasing numbers of people have lost their faith, or that more of the already faithless have found the courage to speak out. I suspect the latter.

I think it is a relatively equal combination of both that looks likely to continue (at least in Britain) - perhaps even exponentially given that the 'reinforcement' religious people count on from others naturally also declines as a result. The most important factor, however, are the freedoms that the British people today have (second only perhaps to the US) that allows such a rapid transition. Ironically, the US, as a result, has other problems so its people can't make the most of their freedoms in this sense.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 08:24:30 UTC | #568683

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 15 by Jos Gibbons

our ancestors who built a Britain on the basis that we were and would remain a predominantly Protestant people

Protestantism didn’t even exist in the British Isles until 1536. While we were not technically a united nation at the time, to act as if none of the bases of the foundation of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland (of which we now have only part, but surely the way it was before we had any of it at all played a part in how it is today) matter to the foundation of the United Kingdom is ridiculous. Scotland and Ireland remained hardline Catholic areas when they were first introduced to the influence of Westminster, which was founded not on any specific religious lines, but on a very special political basis, first the feudal system and later an even less monarch–centred system of rule due to the Magna Carta. If you want to understand why most of the politics happens in England, and why each of the other territories has limited ability to make its own laws and England does not (though the England exception is a question on which we as yet lack consensus), you must understand it in terms of the way William I and John sorted out politics and how reform came under the Stuarts (Scots and Catholics, of course) and Hanoverians. Indeed, the basis on which England and Wales merged with Scotland, when we first became “Britain” in political terms, was England’s dead queen’s closest living relative was James VI of Scotland, so it was now his right to be king of both lands. (The death of Anne gave a similar opportunity for merging with Hanover in 1714, which did not occur for reasons I shan’t enter into here.)

how quickly the change has come – just a generation ... the idea that public figures could be anything other than observantly Christian would have seemed unthinkable

The 19th century Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli was Jewish. We also had several non–believing (e.g. agnostic) Prime Ministers before 1985.

None of this is to dismiss the religious or to disparage its institutions, let alone to imply that Christmas is unimportant.

Why even say this? It’s obvious. “Ha ha, there are fewer of you now” doesn’t really work as an insult. “Ha ha, we now outnumber you at last” doesn’t either. What’s more, Christmas isn’t even a religious festival, though Christians’ renaming of it has done a good job of misleading us all on this.

For all its secular and commercial excess, Christmas remains a surprisingly serious season

See the above.

sensitive adaptation to the predominantly non-religious era is required on all sides

In other words the religious need to be cut more slack than they’re already getting. I wonder where this is going.

[It’s not] the place of a newspaper to impose a religious test on its readers

How would you even do that? Not let atheists buy the Guardian? If you tried that stunt my attitude as an atheist would be “keep it – it’s full of lies anyway, especially about atheism”.

the protection of respect becomes more important with Christianity's decline Perhaps; but, as I already asked, what form does this respect take?

as an era of non-religious ascendancy begins in Britain, the importance of tolerance towards the faiths

Oh, I see. It’s the faiths themselves, not the faithful, who need the respect. I thought as much. Well, no; I will respect people, but not irrational ideas. Since the only slack religious people aren’t being cut these days is people like Richard Dawkins now tell them they’re wrong and why and they childishly (sorry to offend children) dislike it, I say step up the disrespect.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 09:27:15 UTC | #568688

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 16 by Alan4discussion

Comment 5 by gsalias

I feel envy of all my friend in Britain that can feel the joy of being a secular nation, here in mexico we still strugle to break free of th wedge that the religious mayoriti impose on the rest of the society.

You have our sympathy. Even some religions are better than others!

It was during the first antidrug campaigns that the myth of Jes�s Malverde, the original narco-saint, spread beyond the borders of Sinaloa. According to legend, Malverde was a 19th-century outlaw who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor, was hanged for his sins, and then worked miracles from the grave. His cult took off in the 1970s, after a former street vendor, Eligio Gonz�lez, began praying to him. Sitting outside the Malverde shrine in Culiac�n,

Picture 11 in the photogallery is a Malverde shrine; picture 13 shows spendid mausoleums to killed drug barons. Wonderful effects of religion!?

Merry Yule to you all!

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 09:53:55 UTC | #568690

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 17 by rod-the-farmer

I wonder if the mainstream media in the U.S. will pick up this article ? If they do, the comments on it will be most interesting. Especially if it reaches the attention of Fox News.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 10:11:46 UTC | #568694

bendigeidfran's Avatar Comment 18 by bendigeidfran

Critical mass.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 10:49:31 UTC | #568697

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 19 by AtheistEgbert

But the non-religious fail to hold any actual position of power. The Anglican church still holds position of power and privilege and Britain is still a Christian nation in name alone.

And let's not forget, 4-5% of Britains are Muslim.

We have a long way to go.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 11:00:26 UTC | #568698

jel's Avatar Comment 20 by jel

I don't get this respect business at all. Why should I respect religion? Why should I respect religious beliefs? Why should I respect those who hold those beliefs?

Apartheid in South Africa was based on a particular reading of the bible. It was a deeply held religious belief. Should I have respected that belief? Should I have respected those who held that belief?

Circumcision (the mutilation of a child's genitals) is carried out as a deeply held religious belief. Should I respect that belief? Should I respect those who hold that belief?

And on a general note, just why should I respect anyone who holds superstition in such high regard, who ignores the realities of this universe and who insists on trying to force their rather primitive beliefs onto other people?

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 11:52:52 UTC | #568708

HughCaldwell's Avatar Comment 21 by HughCaldwell

I wonder how many of the non-religiou are atheists? 1% ? A very small percentage, probably. Does it matter?

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 11:54:23 UTC | #568710

T. S. Elliott's Avatar Comment 22 by T. S. Elliott

But the non-religious fail to hold any actual position of power. The Anglican church still holds position of power and privilege and Britain is still a Christian nation in name alone.

Maybe with the changing of majority the seats for bishops in the house of lords should be changed with scientists.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 12:39:13 UTC | #568726

HughCaldwell's Avatar Comment 23 by HughCaldwell

If the tiny minority of atheists wants respect, they'd be better to respect others. That doesn't mean 'agreeing with', obviously.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 14:13:01 UTC | #568748

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 24 by Stafford Gordon

At least they can't kill us now.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 14:22:12 UTC | #568753

beanson's Avatar Comment 25 by beanson

re: Comment 23 by HughCaldwell

If the tiny minority of atheists wants respect, they'd be better to respect others. That doesn't mean 'agreeing with', obviously.

What's with this pathetic desire for respect anyway- I couldn't give a toss if the religious fools don't repect the atheist position- they're wrong we're right, that's all that matters. I certainly don't respect stupid notions about fantasy dictatorships- it's bullshit, if the religious can't live with us telling them that then they can fuck off

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 14:51:28 UTC | #568760

Katana's Avatar Comment 26 by Katana

Comment 11 by Hideous Dwarf : In the past, when a form asked 'what religion?' the standard reply for the non-religious was 'C of E', this probably out of a fear of disapproval or discrimination.

Yes this is why the religious numbers on the 2001 census were so high, and also the reason why government promoted faith schools and other things. Though i suspect the reason was that people didn't think about it, when i was child and teenager i would have put C of E because i thought "well i was christened as a child so i must be C of E" even though i never practiced religion, and neither did my parents. I didn't know what atheist meant or that you could be no religion at that point in my life, i'm glad this is starting to change thanks to a more outspoken atheism at large. Though on a form i prefer the option "None" to atheism as it's probably more accurate, though even atheist isn't technically accurate as like many i'm an agnostic atheist (the 6.9 on the scale).

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 15:38:23 UTC | #568766

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 27 by Stafford Gordon

What am I saying? I'd forgotten 9.11 and 7.7! It just is that they can't kill us legitimately.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 16:05:03 UTC | #568770

Simon Wilson's Avatar Comment 28 by Simon Wilson

Comment21 by HughCaldwell I wonder how many of the non-religious are atheists? 1% ? A very small percentage, probably. Does it matter?

I wonder what you mean by this? If you are saying the same as Katana in comment 26 that most 'atheists' are only a 6.9 on the scale, so are really agnostic - then I'd say you are splitting hairs a bit. Or are you confusing non-religious with non-Christian??

And like others, I am still unsure what 'respect' means. I respect your right to hold these views, but I dont have to respect the views (or beliefs) themselves.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 18:29:20 UTC | #568792

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 29 by Stafford Gordon

What am I saying? I was forgetting 9/11 and 7/7!

What I should have said is that they can't kill us any more, legitimately; except of course, in their own eyes.

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 20:51:28 UTC | #568816

Katana's Avatar Comment 30 by Katana

Even Dawkins said he's not a 7 on his own scale (please correct me if he has changed his mind on this). I would say agnostic atheist describes most atheists in that you are saying "I can't rule out the possibility of god(s) but as i have no proof they exist i don't believe in any."

Sat, 25 Dec 2010 21:25:15 UTC | #568820