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Clergy told to take on the 'new atheists' - Comments

Paula Kirby's Avatar Comment 1 by Paula Kirby

"One of the paradoxes of recent times has been the increasing secularisation of society and attempts to marginalise religion alongside an increasing interest in spiritual issues and in the social and cultural implications of religious faith," says the report, called Challenges for the New Quinquennium.

You've got to love this.

The Church of England produces a report on how to persuade people that it is still relevant in the 21st century and shouldn't be sidelined, and then it goes and calls it 'Challenges for the New Quinquennium'. Well, there's a good, relevant, everyday term that doubtless trips daily off the tongue of everyone in 21st century Britain.

How stupid they are. Even the clever ones.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 12:44:41 UTC | #866848

Khannea's Avatar Comment 2 by Khannea

I was watching some reli-TV off late and I have been noticing this militant attitude. The kids on stage stood in black, used tribal biblical verse of 'conflict' and 'battle' and 'the enemy', and they were positioned in all the same stance. It had "Rudolf Speer" quality about it. Or North Korean rallies.

Kinda like this: www.mstrum.com/onmywaytokorea/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/north-korean-propaganda-other-7.jpg

I am not saying that suddenly fanatical, militant, well armed religious terrorists will suddenly jump from the woodwork and start attacking their ideological enemies, because maybe that would be alarmist...

...oh wait.

Uhm maybe we need to be careful of what memes religious movements develop to survive the current stage in societal evolution. Cornered cat syndrome can get nasty.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 12:50:14 UTC | #866852

myDefinition's Avatar Comment 3 by myDefinition

This is just a pleading for different treatment that hopefully many will recognise as a death rattle...

"How dare the 'New Atheists' publicly and intolerantly point out our own intolerances?! This is against our rights; religion must be allowed to oppress and marginalise because of its special position in society"

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 12:52:33 UTC | #866855

PrimeNumbers's Avatar Comment 4 by PrimeNumbers

"Clergy are to be urged to be more vocal in countering the arguments put forward by a more hard-line group of atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens," - oh dear - they're going to have to think hard to come up with some good arguments then as they've failed miserably until now. I notice Rowan Williams himself isn't putting up any good arguments these days and in that statement has effectively passed the buck onto his rank and file membership to do what he himself can not. Ouch.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 12:57:04 UTC | #866859

Vitalic's Avatar Comment 5 by Vitalic

They are running scared. It just goes to show that the methods employed by people like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are working. The namby-pamby accommodationists that "believe in belief" should look at this report and see just how effective honest, hard-hitting clarity can be. If we ever make any progress in this battle between reason and superstition it will be due to the critics brave enough to go against the grain and call out faith for what it is - not the hand-holding, respect giving sycophants who are desperately afraid of offending anyone or anything.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:02:09 UTC | #866862

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 6 by Steve Zara

I quite enjoy this kind of story. I try and imagine what it is that the Anglican clergy are supposed to do to resist the onslaught of the New Atheists. Make church fetes even more fetey? Perhaps they are supposed to improve the arguments for their faith, and insist that Jesus really, really was the Son of God, I mean, really?

If anything shows the power of ideas it is the effect of the New Atheists. We (if I may include myself in that category) are few, especially the publicly known Newbies. In the UK, New Atheism pretty much means just Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, with Paula Kirby becoming more known as well. That's it! And yet just look at the impact, we have Archbishops getting in a state because of nothing but words from a few wise people.

A successful fightback is unlikely. The reason is simple. Their position is based on lies, whereas the position of Richard and others is based on truth, truth which is now accepted by an increasing majority of people in the UK. And worse for them, they base some now nasty and reactionary moral stances on those lies. The Church of England is institutionally misogynistic and homophobic, and dare not change, because if it does it will fragment into non-existence. The Church of England is no longer, if it ever was, a moral leader. Its reactionary views are now rejected by the UK public.

The time of the Church of England is passing. Its like an elderly relative who gets invited over for Christmas but starts muttering about poofs after too much brandy. It's an embarrassment.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:04:28 UTC | #866864

BowDownToGizmo's Avatar Comment 7 by BowDownToGizmo

Fantastic news, I can't see the anglican church lasting very long if it starts arguing with Dawkins et al in the public sphere.

oh and...

"Bishops have a key role here both as public apologists and as teachers of the faith."

Just magnificent, hiring people whose job it is to teach something and apologise for it concurrently. The mind boggles.

Also I have no idea why they distinguish between their internal and external problems. They are the same. The congregations are shrinking and atheism is criticising religion for the same reasons. One of the main ones is because it is the sort of institution that will have an argument about homosexuality. Who wants to be associated with such anachronistic views? The homosexual debate was settled years ago...homosexuality won.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:05:07 UTC | #866866

mjs31's Avatar Comment 8 by mjs31

"...the Church could lose its place at the centre of public life..."

Is that the new way to say money these days?

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:05:24 UTC | #866867

mmurray's Avatar Comment 9 by mmurray

Clergy are to be urged to be more vocal in countering the arguments put forward by a more hard-line group of atheists

This should be good. I've been looking forward to hearing the counter-arguments since I walked out of the Catholic Church about 40 years ago. They've been a slow time coming. I rather expect I am going to die waiting.

Michael

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:08:59 UTC | #866868

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 10 by Ignorant Amos

How can anyone take someone that looks like the Arch Bish seriously, especially when all dressed up in his Sunday best garb? Is it just me, or does anyone else feel an unrelenting urge to get a grip of them eyebrows and tear vigorously? Scare the kids or what?

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:12:50 UTC | #866870

Marc Country's Avatar Comment 11 by Marc Country

May I suggest that the CoE use the following weapons at their disposal: 1. Ignorance 2. Dishonesty.

That's about all they've got in their toolbox, so let's hope those work. Best of luck, boys.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:16:51 UTC | #866871

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 12 by Alan4discussion

Comment 7 by BowDownToGizmo

Fantastic news, I can't see the anglican church lasting very long if it starts arguing with Dawkins et al in the public sphere.

..

Comment 9 by mmurray

Clergy are to be urged to be more vocal in countering the arguments put forward by a more hard-line group of atheists

This should be good. I've been looking forward to hearing the counter-arguments since I walked out of the Catholic Church about 40 years ago. They've been a slow time coming. I rather expect I am going to die waiting.

This should be good for a laugh! Clergy coming away from their closeted kow-towing flocks to debate with adults using evidenced reasoning. Let's see what a public rout does for their support!

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:20:23 UTC | #866872

T F Rhoden's Avatar Comment 13 by T F Rhoden

the Church faces a battle to prevent faith being seen as "a social problem"

Good luck with that...ha! ^__^

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:24:06 UTC | #866873

Barry Pearson's Avatar Comment 14 by Barry Pearson

Chuckle!

Religions are hobbies

They should have no more, and no fewer, privileges than other hobbies. And they don't like that!

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:53:30 UTC | #866882

skiles1's Avatar Comment 15 by skiles1

Oh boy! This should be a blast!

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:53:40 UTC | #866883

SkyWilliam's Avatar Comment 16 by SkyWilliam

If Rowan Williams and his gentlemanly cohorts were to find magical means of combatting the likes of staunch outspoken English atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, they would still have to face the huge problems posed by relatively quiet English scientists such as Stephen Hawking and David Deutsch. The latter's recently-published masterpiece, The Beginning of Infinity, is much more than normal clergymen, English or otherwise, might be expected to handle. But the silly buggers will no doubt try. So, were in for a lot of meaningless shit.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 13:56:47 UTC | #866885

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 17 by God fearing Atheist

CofE plan:-

Our weaknesses:-

1) Ageing staff;

2) Ageing customers;

3) Falling sales;

4) Ingrained misogyny;

5) Ingrained homophobia;

6) Richard fucking Dawkins;

7) Christopher fucking Hitchens.

Our strengths:-

1) Big sky fairy on our side;

Our tactics:-

1) Pray harder.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:01:57 UTC | #866886

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 18 by rod-the-farmer

punished for sharing their beliefs

What ?? More like punished for trying to impose their beliefs.....

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:03:38 UTC | #866887

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 19 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 16 by SkyWilliam

The latter's recently-published masterpiece, The Beginning of Infinity, is much more than normal clergymen, English or otherwise, might be expected to handle.

I have just bought the audio book, I take it from your comment that you recommend it?

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:05:42 UTC | #866888

Barry Pearson's Avatar Comment 20 by Barry Pearson

Comment 6 by Steve Zara :

A successful fightback is unlikely. The reason is simple. Their position is based on lies, whereas the position of Richard and others is based on truth, truth which is now accepted by an increasing majority of people in the UK.

There is a reason behind that reason. Religions really have 2 processes (or sets of techniques):

  1. There is a process sufficient to convert a child, although typically not an aware adult, to believe. It probably works best for the under 10s.

  2. There is a process (or set of them) to periodically reinforce belief "1". Daily prayers, weekly services, annual holidays, etc.

What they don't have are processes sufficient to convert a typical adult. They need to start with bums on school seats, then ensure that even after school society continues the reinforcement.

That is where your point comes into play: "2" is not being sustained. The process of secularisation is hard to reverse when there aren't sufficient people to continue periodic reinforcement. I don't actually think it even needs people like Richard anymore - a population of apatheists would also fail to continue the reinforcement.

I suspect they are deluded about the nature of the problem. Secularistion was in progress last century. It has been estimated that the degree of religiosity was halving every 2 generations: Secularization: In Defence of an Unfashionable Theory; Steve Bruce

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:11:04 UTC | #866891

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 21 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 5 by Vitalic

+1

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:13:03 UTC | #866894

Presto2112's Avatar Comment 22 by Presto2112

Perhaps some cogent arguments in their favour are in order, instead of the current line of "shut up, atheists, you're scaring the flock away!"

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:13:17 UTC | #866895

Tomaniac's Avatar Comment 23 by Tomaniac

The clergy is finally losing their battle in keeping people ignorant of the facts that destroy religion. The stories of Genesis can no longer be regarded as true based on modern scientific findings in the fields of evolution and cosmology and that is freaking them out.

Original sin "eating fruit from the tree of knowledge" is the force that has been used for centuries to keep otherwise intelligent people from questioning the teachings of the bible by equating knowledge with sin and people are getting tired of walking the theocratic tight rope that results as knowledge is paramount in functioning in our modern age.

Religious leaders are facing an uphill battle trying to convince people to ignore reason, evidence and common sense in order to believe the teachings of the church. Everyone needs to be vigilant in pushing back on the clergy to keep religious dogma out of politics and policy making because it is nothing but pure fantasy.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:17:20 UTC | #866897

Net's Avatar Comment 24 by Net

to the extent that it influences the lives of non-believers, the church, any church, is a social problem. i do wonder why 21st century western man needs "church" but, if need it he does, then at least he should keep it to himself; especially in modern, pluralist societies. if the bishop feels secure in his faith, then let him debate the so-called new atheists in public. and, by the way, does anyone know how many atheist dollars (pounds) go, unwillingly, to support him and his ilk?

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:19:28 UTC | #866900

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 25 by Cartomancer

I do so love the way the Torygraph pretends that there is still a battle to fight. It presents the situation as though the church of England, and religion in general, are not already utterly inconsequential and sidelined in British society.

We're pretty much the most secular nation on earth in terms of public opinion. We have been for decades. I cannot remember any point in my lifetime, the last just under thirty years, when the church of England held any substantial moral, political or social power worth bothering with. Oh, sure, they still have a few anachronistic bishops in the House of Lords (and that's a disgrace that needs addressing) and they're still tax-exempt, but how many people seriously go to church on a regular basis in this country? 5% or so at most.

Whatever the fustily conservative editorial line of the Torygraph would have us believe, the battle is now won in this country. These musings of the general synod sound increasingly like the discussions of a technology company trying to fight the decline of betamax tapes in the twenty-first century.

You've lost, old men in dresses, get used to that fact!

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 14:45:22 UTC | #866911

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 26 by strangebrew

Comment 18 by rod-the-farmer

punished for sharing their beliefs

What ?? More like punished for trying to impose their beliefs.....

Ahh yeah well 'sharing' is the new definition of 'ramming toxic gobbly gook down throats'

Every so called intolerance experienced by martyrs in the comment were publicized and pursued and probably bankrolled by either the C of E or some other evangelical 'woe are they' troll club.

'Sharing their faith' indeed..by these lies shalt we know them.

As for 'Catweazle' and his challenged minions...what a hoot!

I would just love for RD & Hitchens et al to 'share' their knowledge of Evolutionary theory to the 2nd and 3rd in line to the A of C... Both apparently of the creationist persuasion...or so the scuttlebutt goes!

Although one of them is at odds with the above OP anyway concerning the 'intolerance ' dished out by a secular society... From the OP...

"There is still work to be done to counter the prevailing tendency of treating faith as a private matter which should not impact on what happens in the public realm.

So they do not want religious faith to be a personal matter in the secular sphere or the public realm. They want it loud and whiny wherever they wander presumably. Open displays of a Christian fairy story and sycophantic respect from every side for preaching utter balderdash and proclaiming it brashly outside their church to anyone atheist and believer alike.

But a few years back Sentamu pontificated thus on open displays of the Christian delusion....

.” The archbishop said he never wore a cross when visiting a synagogue or mosque, explaining: “Because I am going into someone else’s home. And I can’t simply say, ‘Take me as I am, whether you like it or not.’ “I think the thing is in British society you can wear what you want, but you can’t expect British society to be reconfigured around you. No minority can expect to impose this on the public or civic life.”

Fuck there goes another spring in my irony meter...these cretins are costing me a fortune! The inconsistency is breathtaking...he will not openly offend another delusion but now his cult wants to offend everyone?

Thing is the incoherency in their scribblings and mutterings has reached fever pitch...I do believe they have finally awoken to the fact that they are not the only game in town. In fact they are fast being sidelined in the scheme of things!

I just find it typical that in their fear they are looking to the lower echelons to make it right and take away the scary atheists. This should get fucking hilarious...a bunch of ecclesiastical middle management know nothings taking on scientific knowledge from EVERY major discipline from the last 150 odd years...this has got to be entertaining if not rather predictable!

.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 15:07:27 UTC | #866917

gordon's Avatar Comment 27 by gordon

Bring it on!!!

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 15:10:23 UTC | #866918

gordon's Avatar Comment 28 by gordon

I wonder if the Bish actually believes in a sky fairy? When I've heard him speak of God, I've noticed he goes out of his theological way to be as obtuse as possible, like he has something to hide. It's almost as if he can't say the word without blushing.

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 15:15:48 UTC | #866922

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 29 by Jos Gibbons

Clergy told to take on the 'new atheists'

This isn't the first time someone has done that. When will it happen?

combat the rise of secularism

In Britain? With increasingly many faith schools? With only one non-religious voice having ever been allowed on Thought For The Day in its entire history? With tax breaks for all religions, not to mention exemptions from, or even authority over, our laws (as with Sharia courts)? With a head of state and of “the Church of England”, and said head drawn from a family whose members are required to belong to the right religion and certainly not Catholicism? (Repealing that might constitute more of a “defence of Christianity” than anything these clergy will try.)

Clergy are to be urged to be more vocal in countering the arguments

Improving the quality of the response, rather than its quantity, should be the real priority.

the Church faces a battle to prevent faith being seen as "a social problem"

Isn't this analogous to what happened to the tobacco companies?

the next five years are set to be a period of "exceptional challenge"

Compared with the last 1500 or so anyway.

Christians are facing hostility at work

There is not a single recorded example of discrimination in British workplaces against Christians for being Christian. Not one. Many attempts have been made to pretend otherwise, but every single example has been one in which a Christian was simply denied the opportunity to force their religion or its rules on others – and even then, only their particular proselytising and/or homophobic view of what Christianity means, rather than something more universal.

the Church could lose its place at the centre of public life

There are no indications our politicians will disestablish the COE as the state religion.

Christians are suffering from an increasing level of discrimination following a series of cases in which they have been punished for sharing their beliefs.

I explained above why that is a lie. We're talking about an air stewardess who was abusive to Jewish passengers, a counsellor who wouldn't help same-sex couples, religious orphanages who would not let same-sex couples adopt children from them.

religion in Britain is under threat from atheists

All atheists can do is spell out why those religions aren't worth the things they ask for. The greatest enemies of religions are other religions. Go after them!

the Church faces many internal problems as well, from ageing congregations to rows over homosexuality.

Then offer something to youngsters, and stop being homophobic.

militant atheists

If they don't have weaponry, they're not militant. You don't get to be called a militant Christian for writing a book espousing your views.

the Church must respond if it is not to be pushed from the public square

David Cameron is a Christian. He's not exactly in favour of secular politics. The COE will stay in the public square for now.

an increasing interest in spiritual issues and in the social and cultural implications of religious faith

What increasing interest? Give evidence! An interest in detrimental implications of faith is not at all paradoxical in this context.

The Church must be explicit about the need to counter attempts to marginalise Christianity and to treat religious faith more generally as a social problem

Say there's a need to counter the arguments all you want. What form will the countering take?

Bishops have a key role here both as public apologists and as teachers of the faith

They're already doing those things.

this intolerance is becoming more widespread and can be seen in public bodies, which it says must be challenged over attitudes of "suspicion or hostility towards churches and other faith groups"

Poor little tobacco companies.

a number of Christians have taken legal action against local councils and hospital trusts after being disciplined for expressing their faith by wearing crosses or refusing to act against their orthodox beliefs.

What actually happened was they repeatedly refused to heed requests to stop proselytising against patients in their care.

the Church of England can appear too vague on where it stands on issues and risks further divisions over the introduction of women bishops and future debates about sexuality.

Because some people would leave the COE for being too bigoted while others would leave it for not being bigoted enough, they have chosen to be half-bigoted by giving women or gays slightly fewer rights for employment and promotion within the clergy than everyone else gets. This leads to some degree of vagueness. The solution, from a pragmatic perspective, is to bite more bullets. But if the COE isn't a massive scam, there's a more elegant solution of checking what God actually wants of them. Does he want certain sex(ualiti)es to be unable to rise to the top ranks or not?

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 15:32:04 UTC | #866925

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 30 by aquilacane

Sorry, just had to stop here:

The rallying call comes amid fears that Christians are suffering from an increasing level of discrimination following a series of cases in which they have been punished for sharing their beliefs.

Christians are suffering from an increased level of mockery following a series of cases in which they have been challenged for sharing beliefs and making claims. Scientists, respond by saying, "Yeah, that's every fucking day of my life, douche bag. If you don't like it, get some fucking evidence."

Drawing particular attention to the threat posed by a new movement of militant atheists

Provide evidence of a "New Atheist" engaging in militarized atheism

In recent years, a number of Christians have taken legal action against local councils and hospital trusts after being disciplined for expressing their faith by wearing crosses or refusing to act against their orthodox beliefs.

By advertising their personal religious brand while being paid to conduct business as an employee of the state and for accepting a job for which their orthodox beliefs make them unqualified to hold.

It says the Church of England can appear too vague on where it stands on issues and risks further divisions over the introduction of women bishops and future debates about sexuality.

Look, basically the religious brand is losing market share to the atheism brand. We have no real argument against atheism, as proven by no real argument against atheism, other than it is deteriorating our brand. So, we need to attack atheism and say it is a problem (not prove, just say) and, at the same time, change our formula to try and attract new drinkers.

Market share, market share, market share. Problem here is the product. No amount of GRPs will get them a greater share unless they improve their product (which proves it's fake BTW).

Sat, 03 Sep 2011 15:32:24 UTC | #866926