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UK Christian leaders warn religion is being pushed out of public life - Comments

Stephen of Wimbledon's Avatar Comment 1 by Stephen of Wimbledon

Well-well - I must say I was very surprised. Essentially Britain is a theocracy - with the Queen at the head of an established church, as well as Head of State, and unelected clerics in Parliament.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 17:26:52 UTC | #916299

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 2 by drumdaddy

Push hard.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 17:35:59 UTC | #916302

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 3 by prettygoodformonkeys

Bishop Langrish of Exeter said Britain remained a religious nation. “Every time there is a survey of religious beliefs in this country, around 70 percent of the population profess religious faith and will also talk about saying private prayers. We are actually talking about something that still accords with the mood and the outlook of the majority.”

Let them do as they want. Just keep them the hell out of government. And schools.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 17:38:02 UTC | #916304

jel's Avatar Comment 4 by jel

Could it be that we're now going to see a campaign to get rid of the tradition of starting every parliamentary session each day with a prayer.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 17:38:08 UTC | #916305

Wokkie's Avatar Comment 5 by Wokkie

"The right to worship is a fundamental and hard-fought British liberty.”

Wow. Just wow. Of course people can worship the whole day if they like, but they shouldn't try to limit or take away rights from others. They just don't understand this, do they?

Individual rights means what it says. Every individual (smallest minority) has the right to be free from violence from others. But they don't accept the rights of other's of course.

The forced indoctrination of children for example is so far away from individual liberty that I can't even wrap my head around it.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 17:44:31 UTC | #916311

Galactor's Avatar Comment 6 by Galactor

Should we be surprised at Christian doublespeak?

"We're a Christian nation! The nation is full of Christians and other religious faiths from the bottom to the top!"

"Christians are being persecuted by a minority who want religion out of the public square".

You'd think that that 70% would be rallying to the cause and demanding that councils could hold prayer meetings to make sure that the roads are tarmacked and that the rubbish is collected on time.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 17:50:44 UTC | #916313

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 7 by prettygoodformonkeys

Harry Greenway, a former Tory MP and ex-chairman of the National Prayer Breakfast, said: "I trust this ruling will be quickly reversed. If people do not want to attend prayers of this nature, they can stay away instead of meddling and busybodying with other people's beliefs."

Harry's got this exactly backwards.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 17:52:48 UTC | #916314

Galactor's Avatar Comment 8 by Galactor

Christianity plays an important part in the culture, heritage and fabric of our nation. The right to worship is a fundamental and hard-fought British liberty.

As is the right not to be subjected to having to worship.

No-one is taking away or arguing against people being able to worship.

It is, of course, atheists and secularists who have done the hard fighting to remove the extreme effects of our wonderful Christian cultural heritage.

Do you see the implication? Without a Christian heritage, life in Britain would be ... bad.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 17:56:35 UTC | #916315

yanquetino's Avatar Comment 9 by yanquetino

Even if the majority of the British believe in christianity (which I seriously doubt), it is not a "christian nation." I mean, there are more female than male citizens in the Britain. Does that make it a "female nation"? And if it is a question of age-old traditions, Britain was once part of Rome. Shouldn't it be a "zeus nation" then? Duh-uh.

It's high time such superstitions were "pushed out" of public life!

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 18:15:08 UTC | #916321

Rich Wiltshir's Avatar Comment 10 by Rich Wiltshir

Yup. Get the leaches out of our institutions.

There was a time when Langrish (Exeter Bish) would've claimed 100% religiosity with no dilution to other cults. I'm amused and informed by his limp and tearful assertion that an unspecified proportion of 70% is loyal to his own gang. "... talk about saying private prayer..."

The bishop's own words expose surrender to the inevitable demise of the institution that was founded on rancid, violent and corrupt bullying, torture and murder of earlier generations. The powerbase is gone, all reason to sponsor it exposed as flacid mythology and the product of boys' clubs and dominance by a few self-aggrandising families thanks to kow towing (consider the 'defender of faiths' buffoon who waits in the wings).

Prayer serves no function other than as puppeteer's string (riveted during childhood and only removed by diligent reason), and conveyor of cash to the church. Forcing kids to pray in school is blatant indocrination; grooming to maintain market share of the populace that is increasingly empowered by knowledge, reason and intelligence applied to the growing pool of information available to all.

One painful truth to these peddlars of myth is that, without countless dealers for the drug of prayer, their employer, prestige, luxuries, influence, status, wealth and esteme (self and otherwise) are undermined. So when they protest at the retreat of prayer I see a malignant version of Arthur Scargill in a frock, cankerous, malodourous and complaining that it is evil to dissemble his ancient union's stranglehold on supply of a product for which - in the case of religion - there is no need.

Within yards of a cathedral's entrance there's usually a sign. It asks for donations, reinforcing the need because 'we receive no government funding.' By the donation's box, there's 'DON'T FORGET TO GIFTAID' so they can have a tax rebate. Giftaid is government funding: whether it's for cats, culture or cults. CofE income stream = £1bn (ish) pa, tax privileged (what good could £200m do elsewhere?) £30m pa from NHS funds for priests in hospitals... military chaplains... How many cults? How many income streams from the public purse? How many avoidable costs directly attributable to religion?

Today's a good day, but there are many more enforced retreats of religion yet to be achieved. Let's keep at 'em. Religion is business model for to inspire drug pushers: let's help the addicts (Clergy Project for example) and amputate the revenue streams to the pushers.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 18:27:02 UTC | #916326

Brian J Hoskins's Avatar Comment 11 by Brian J Hoskins

“We are a Christian country, with an established Church in England, governed by the Queen,” he said in a statement. “Christianity plays an important part in the culture, heritage and fabric of our nation. The right to worship is a fundamental and hard-fought British liberty.”

I agree that Christianity played an important part in the culture, heritage and fabric of our nation. But, I used 'played' as in the past tense, because it's our history. War, famine and suffering have been in our history as well, and also played an important part in the culture, heritage and fabric of our nation. But it doesn't necessarily follow that we'd want those things in our future as well.

As for the right to worship... it's a free country so every individual has the right to worship if they want to. Equally, every individual should have the right not to worship, and that's really where the Atheist perspective on this matter comes from. When I was in school I remember being forced to say prayers every day. But I don't believe in a supernatural God, so why should I be forced to join in other people's Worship for Him? That's the point we're trying to make here.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 18:28:45 UTC | #916328

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 12 by Mr DArcy

“I’ve no doubt at all that the agenda of the National Secular Society is inch-by-inch to drive religion out of the public sphere,” the Church of England’s Bishop of Exeter, Michael Langrish, told BBC television. “If they get their way it will have enormous implications for things such as prayers in parliament, the Remembrance Day, the Jubilee celebrations (marking the 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth) and even the singing of the national anthem.”

Shock, horror! I say old chap, that's going a bit overboard, now ain't it? Poor old Queen would be feelin' a bit miffed about people not having to stand up for the anthem n' all that. Oh and that Remembrence Day thingy, - it's a total disgrace that these atheist chappies aim to take God out of that. I mean we all know that God Almighty already had all those wars planned long before He made the universe. Who are these whippersnappers who want to interefere with God's plan? Bloody take them out and put them against the wall I say!

Of course we all know that praying is attempting to get God to change His plan, but dammit, at least we are proper believers!

(-*)

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 18:40:32 UTC | #916332

TrickyDicky's Avatar Comment 13 by TrickyDicky

"The right to worship is a fundamental and hard-fought British liberty.”

I am trying to think of when, during the last 1500 years, British Christians have had to fight for the right to worship.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 18:52:46 UTC | #916336

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 14 by Steve Zara

Comment 13 by TrickyDicky

I am trying to think of when, during the last 1500 years, British Christians have had to fight for the right to worship.

There have been plenty of times when various Christians were prevented from worshipping by other Christians, using some pretty nasty punishments. There is not the slightest case for moaning now.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 18:59:21 UTC | #916340

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 15 by Jos Gibbons

UK Christian leaders warn religion is being pushed out of public life

Doesn’t a warning have to be of a bad thing?

Christian leaders fear prayers could be driven from public life after a court ruled that a council had acted unlawfully by allowing them at meetings

How can enforcing an existing law be a big change?

It is the latest legal defeat for Christians in the High Court, and came on the same day a religious couple lost their appeal against turning away a gay couple from their Bed and Breakfast guesthouse.

If Christianity has to be homophobic – if – then it deserves to lose. If not, even a concern for the needs of Christianity shouldn’t make us sympathetic to the couple.

If they get their way it will have enormous implications for things such as prayers in parliament, the Remembrance Day, the Jubilee celebrations (marking the 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth) and even the singing of the national anthem

Putting aside how plausible that claim is (the Jubilee in particular leaves little time for legal changes, and David Cameron will never let it through away), we shouldn’t only be worried about these enormous implications if they’re bad, and no reason to think that has yet been presented.

The right to worship

differs from government enforcement of worship.

Prayers could be said as long as councillors were not formally summoned to attend though, the judge ruled.

Then what are all the Christians moaning about?

The NSS and Clive Bone also argued that atheist council members were being “indirectly discriminated against”, in breach of human rights laws, a line rejected by the court

I’d love to hear each side’s case for whether or not it was happening. Does anyone know more about this than me?

Every time there is a survey of religious beliefs in this country, around 70 percent of the population profess religious faith

It depends on the wording. If people are asked if they are religious, only about half say so; if they are asked what religion they are, you can get the larger figure he quotes. This shows it is unreal. People identify in a group fashion based on their childhood rather than thinking about what they actually believe.

We are actually talking about something that still accords with the mood and the outlook of the majority

Even if most people pray, that’s very different from most people thinking governmental forces should be encouraging or even requiring prayer. There are religious secularists.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 19:00:08 UTC | #916341

Chris Roberts's Avatar Comment 16 by Chris Roberts

Yes, lets drive religion out of the public sphere. If anyone wants to pray, they can do so in their own time, in their own church or home and using their own money (on which tax should be paid).

Religion should follow the laws of the land, not dictate them.

Prayers in parliament is not required, neither is prayers at rememberance day. You can pray if you want, but either way you are remembering the dead.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 19:11:18 UTC | #916346

Chico2004's Avatar Comment 17 by Chico2004

I first became aware of this story a wee while back and as soon as it became a story in the most enjoyable bit if toilet paper ever known: the "Daily Hate Mail", I knew i would see the vitriolic and uneducated comments by the masses. Of course we expect the same diatribes by them, so no surprise there then. I totally agree with this councellor. Tax funded public social institutions; the State, must be seperate from Religions of all paths. I am a mother with a child at primary school, and she has assembly every Monday morning at her school. My first words are "Was the Minister or Reverand there?" Mostly as resounding "No", just my headteacher. I was greateful to hear that. Christianity was forced down my throat from a young child, which as Christopher Hitchens said was tatamount to child abuse and he was so right. Religion is an individaul and very private matter. Thus, it should ALWAYS stay this way.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 19:14:25 UTC | #916347

rationalmind's Avatar Comment 18 by rationalmind

Comment 3 by prettygoodformonkeys :

Bishop Langrish of Exeter said Britain remained a religious nation. “Every time there is a survey of religious beliefs in this country, around 70 percent of the population profess religious faith and will also talk about saying private prayers. We are actually talking about something that still accords with the mood and the outlook of the majority.”

My guess is that RDFRS UK is going to make an announcement showing that they have research to show that this 70% figure is utter rubbish. It is obviously rubbish anyway since 70% of people don't go to church. Only about 2% do.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 19:15:03 UTC | #916348

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 19 by the great teapot

perhaps they should hold the prayers half an hour before the meeting so the religious have to turn up early for them. I suspect the number in favour, if not already small, would drop drastically. i cant see pickles attending if it eats in to his lunch,brunch and afternoon tea break.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 19:15:09 UTC | #916349

EvolvedDNA's Avatar Comment 20 by EvolvedDNA

They can deface and get Atheist billboards removed but cannot accept the reverse. If prayers are held in a public space does it follow that we all should have our cell phones turned of in case it rings? What if God needed to get a hold of me. I am sure they will still attempt to have this put back in, but is there any reason that if any Athiests were in the same room they would need to keep quiet during the prayer?

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 19:27:05 UTC | #916356

lol mahmood's Avatar Comment 21 by lol mahmood

Someone should remind the poor, persecuted christians about the bit in their holy book that recommends private prayer over public prayer. Can anyone post the appropriate verse(s)?

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 19:28:27 UTC | #916358

Finch's Avatar Comment 22 by Finch

From the article:

“I’ve no doubt at all that the agenda of the National Secular Society is inch-by-inch to drive religion out of the public sphere,” the Church of England’s Bishop of Exeter, Michael Langrish, told BBC television. “If they get their way it will have enormous implications for things such as prayers in parliament, the Remembrance Day, the Jubilee celebrations (marking the 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth) and even the singing of the national anthem.”

Oh, please.

Fundamentalists here in the US have been using these same kinds of hyperbolous, doomsday assertions that not only play upon the uneducated minds of their followers (politically speaking) ...but actually tries to mock the intelligence of Americans, in general (unsuccessfully), because nearly every American clearly understands that the US Constitution guarantees freedom of religion in the 1st Amendment.

The overwhelming majority of Americans see through this bullshit.

Bishop Langrish uses the same playbook with the UK because religious freedom is protected (currently) under the Human Rights Act of 1998 (a couple hundred years late..but established, nonetheless).

Enough, with the drama Bishop Langrish.

Comment 11 by Brian J Hoskins :

“We are a Christian country, with an established Church in England, governed by the Queen,” he said in a statement. “Christianity plays an important part in the culture, heritage and fabric of our nation. The right to worship is a fundamental and hard-fought British liberty.”

I agree that Christianity played an important part in the culture, heritage and fabric of our nation. But, I used 'played' as in the past tense, because it's our history. War, famine and suffering have been in our history as well, and also played an important part in the culture, heritage and fabric of our nation. But it doesn't necessarily follow that we'd want those things in our future as well.

As for the right to worship... it's a free country so every individual has the right to worship if they want to. Equally, every individual should have the right not to worship, and that's really where the Atheist perspective on this matter comes from. When I was in school I remember being forced to say prayers every day. But I don't believe in a supernatural God, so why should I be forced to join in other people's Worship for Him? That's the point we're trying to make here.

Good point.

Here's a suggestion: Citizens of the UK should demand that Parliament ratify a Constitution that protects separation of church and state, which makes state churches ILLEGAL.

The UK is bizarre: You have state churches...one of which requires Parliamentary approval of doctrinal changes (the Church of England).

Absolutely, bizarre.

I'm glad that I live in the States.

Thank you Jefferson, Franklin, Paine, et al.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 19:31:51 UTC | #916361

Finch's Avatar Comment 23 by Finch

Comment 21 by lol mahmood :

Someone should remind the poor, persecuted christians about the bit in their holy book that recommends private prayer over public prayer. Can anyone post the appropriate verse(s)?

Excellent point.

Matt 6:5-6

(5) “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. (6) But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 19:37:24 UTC | #916362

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 24 by Cartomancer

Okay, so we're playing statistics are we? Very well...

I dare say 70% or more of the British people are keen on football. Given the massively greater attendance at football matches than churches these days, it would be silly to deny that football holds a much deeper and more important place in our national culture than religion does. Likewise, the drinking of tea is a national institution. People in this country drink bucketloads of the stuff all the time. I can't stand either to be honest, but I do own a pair of Union Jack boxer shorts so they can't deport me just yet.

Anyway, are we thus to have obligatory football matches between the members of local councils before the meetings take place? Is every councillor to be served a mandatory cup of darjeeling which he or she is required to drink? Would it be "trying to force tea and football out of public life" if those demands were not met?

Similarly (and thanks to PZ Myers for this one), masturbation is enjoyed almost universally among the British. Far more so than church and praying ever was. Does that mean we expect our local councillors to sit and watch the mayor toss himself off before last month's minutes are read to the chamber?

No? That wouldn't be appropriate for public places you say? Bingo! And nor is religion. Do it quietly in the corner if you must, but it has no place in the affairs of government.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 19:39:45 UTC | #916363

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 25 by aquilacane

Oh shit

“I’ve no doubt at all that the agenda of the National Secular Society is inch-by-inch to drive religion out of the public sphere,” the Church of England’s Bishop of Exeter, Michael Langrish, told BBC television. “If they get their way it will have enormous implications for things such as prayers in parliament, the Remembrance Day, the Jubilee celebrations (marking the 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth) and even the singing of the national anthem.”

So, no effect on anything meaningful, real or of any substantial importance. Good, good. He's wrong about Remembrance Day; of course, that one is silly.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 19:40:44 UTC | #916364

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 26 by strangebrew

Many a soiled and damp PJ to the diocese & parish laundry tomorrow!

The couple of homophobic xians that lost their appeal today had it funded by the Christian Institute. They were so adamant that they were right they could not be bothered to show up in court to hear the ruling.

And now on top of that ignominy a test case has slapped pompous xianity on the nose for confusing secular activity with 'let's pretend time'

All the whining is to be expected...but really xianity is the loser here for sure...cos the populace at large could not give a monkey's...so much for Pickles the performing buffoon and his 70 % christian Blighty.

Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute: "We feel rather sad the court has given the National Secular Society some encouragement in their campaign"

Ahh...fucking diddums!

But the most encouraging quote came from Robert Pigott the BBC News religious affairs correspondent.

By and large, judges have been unsympathetic to the Christian case when people have argued that they don't want to do things like advising homosexual couples.

The tide has been flowing pretty firmly against Christianity in public life and it's caused huge concerns for the churches. They say it's being driven out of public life.

There is a lot of concern that this is not just about pure religion but this is about some of the values that underpin the British way of life.

Of course, from the other side, people like the National Secular Society say the Church and Christianity should not have undue privileges in having their values and their way of doing things upheld.

So there's an argument on both sides but certainly it's been very noticeable in the last few years that the tide's been turning against Christian practices which we've just taken for granted for centuries.

By and large it would indeed seem that xianity is retreating with cassocks a flying and hairy legs a back tracking as fast as their deity will propel them. They are fast losing ground...for the first time in ecclesiastical history...they don't like it up 'em do they?

Because when all is said and done the fairy story is just a fairy story...tough growing up!

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 19:46:17 UTC | #916367

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 27 by the great teapot

Finch You really couldn't make it up could you.

A country with a state backed religion whose subjects (apparently we aren't citizens) couldn't give tuppence for any religion and another country which actually separates church from state in its constitution whose population appear to be on some sort of religious drug.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 19:51:58 UTC | #916371

LucindaE's Avatar Comment 28 by LucindaE

I am guessing that the statistic of 70% is from the 2001 census, which represented 72% of the public as christian.

However, that result has been widely disregarded, since the same year's British Social Attitudes Survey found only 43% to be christian.

NatCen social research has found 50% of the British population to have no affiliation to any religion, and only 44% to be christian, consistent with BSA's survey.

Put simply, the statement that

Every time there is a survey of religious beliefs in this country, around 70 percent of the population profess religious faith

... is either a transparent lie, or a suspiciously malleable interpretation of the word 'around.'

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 19:54:38 UTC | #916374

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 29 by Alan4discussion

Comment 28 by LucindaE

However, that result has been widely disregarded, since the same year's British Social Attitudes Survey found only 43% to be christian.

We discussed this here in December 2010 -

http://richarddawkins.net/articles/568607-religion-respecting-the-minority

In the latest 2010 BSA report, published earlier this month, only 42% said they were Christians while 51% now say they have no religion. Admittedly, some other surveys – including the last [pre 2010] census – have produced different findings on these issues, usually to the advantage of the religious option.

..

@28 .. is either a transparent lie, or a very malleable interpretation of the word 'about.'

Quite! But lying for Jebus is the norm. - It's as if wishing would make it so!

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 20:09:14 UTC | #916378

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 30 by Mr DArcy

Finch:

The UK is bizarre: You have state churches...one of which requires Parliamentary approval of doctrinal changes (the Church of England).

Absolutely, bizarre.

I'm glad that I live in the States.

Thank you Jefferson, Franklin, Paine, et al.

Yes, I suppose it is a bit bizarre here! Here we have a State church, the CoE, of which the queen is the head. ( No bloody democratically elected popes here mate!). And yet most people are either not religious, couldn't give a damm, or in the CoE minority. It will be interesting to see the results of the 2011 Census as to how many believers actually claim to be so.

Just in the interests of "balance", I believe Tom Paine was an Englishman, as was St Patrick! I suppose that people with useful ideas and other people with useless ideas come from all parts of humanity, regardless of nationality, race or sex.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 20:20:54 UTC | #916384