WARNING: IF YOU ARE RELIGIOUS AND EASILY OFFENDED DO NOT CONTINUE!
Baroness Warsi has today accused Britain of being under threat from “militant secularists” whose methods are reminiscent of “totalitarian regimes.” My gut reaction to such a statement is one of disgust. Secularism does not deserve to be compared to totalitarianism in any way!
Wasri is the latest Conservative to come out against secularism and the so called marginalisation of religion. David Cameron came out last year asserting that “the UK was a Christian country and we should do more to defend that.” A lot of the rhetoric from Cameron and now Warsi is on tolerance and morality. Apparently being an atheist instantly makes you intolerant of all faiths.
This is far from the truth. I am an atheist, but I am not intolerant of any faith. In fact, I would argue that people more likely to be intolerant and ignorant of other faiths, are religious people themselves. Christian faith schools teach predominantly Christian teachings, perhaps giving a passing two week reference “all other faiths” leaving their students with no understanding of other religions and deeply ignorant.
The myth that religion is required for morality is one that I thought had been busted in recent years. Religion does not not make you a moral person, far from it. We can debate at length if morality is innate, or if it is progressive, either way, reading a religious text cover to cover isn’t the answer.
Warsi has the cheek to say that secularism is intolerant and totalitarian. Let’s have a quick look at the biggest faiths in the UK and see how long it takes me to if they are intolerant . Christians are a tolerant bunch right? Love thy neighbour, don’t covet another man’s wife etc.. Reasonable chaps? Erm, just don’t talk to them about homosexuality. Same goes for Islam, very nice people, just don’t talk about equality for women. Yes these are gross generalisations (based on the ideas of their leaders/texts), but they are mainly stylised facts, so I only half-apologise for them, and doesn’t Warsi do that when she accuses secularists of the intolerance? Just don’t get me started on Catholics. Jeez.
One of the foundations of a liberal society is the ability to practice your faith without the risk of being persecuted or marginalised. As an atheist and a secularist this is the last thing I want. Practise your faith by all means, but do not for one second think you can trample on the fundamental rights of others in the name of it.
The Conservative Party is really running the risk of upsetting the younger, liberal branch of its membership with this continued focus on religion and morality.