Monday, April 28, 2014

A post Rowan Williams country

I see that the ex-Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams has chipped into the recent debate about secularism in Britain and the whole are we a "Christian nation" or not (and what would that even mean anyway). He seems to be agreeing with the secular position, i.e. that Britain is *not really* a Christian nation any more (regardless of what outdated polls say) and that our culture has moved on. Unfortunately the current Arch-Bishop, Justin Welby decided to side with the Conservatives, an odd position given the disagreements he seems to have with them regarding things like austerity and gay marriage, for me this schism between the ex-Bishop and the incumbent one is illustrative of the problem, i.e. Welby can't bite the hand that feeds him!

I was pleased last week that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg came out and said in a radio interview that he thought Britain should separate Church and state as have most other modern states. This is a view I share, unfortunately a lot of religious commentators including PM David Cameron himself were quick to dismiss this idea although none that I saw came up with any particular logic or reason for opposing it other than the usual "it's always been this way therefore we shouldn't rock the boat", which is never a good reason for anything in my opinion. I even saw someone attempting to argue that establishment ensured tolerance and freedom of religion, the exact same thing that a secular approach to religion pioneered by the founding fathers of the USA (i.e. Government favouring no single belief over any other) was invented to do.

If you look at the picture above, which shows the evolution of religion since pre-history, you have to accept that establishment is tantamount to claiming that one little bubble on this diagram should be inextricably bound to your system of government and given unfair advantage over all of the other bubbles (and no bubble at all!), regardless of any democratic process. I fail to understand how this can be part of a "free" society, if anything we should have regular (every 10 years) referendums on this just as much as we should about the EU, proportional representation or any other significant matter that involves who holds positions of power over us, elected or otherwise.

It's been quite interesting and refreshing to have these topics aired in the mainstream media for a change, the weakness of the pro-establishment argument has been quite conspicuous for me and there seems to be an overwhelming air of defensiveness in their demeanour. Many of the articles I've read have simply attempted to close the debate down with arguments from authority and have shown a complete lack of will to compromise in any way. I get the feeling that they sense this authority diminishing, which I believe is progress.

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