Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It's not easy being Ann Widdecombe

Ex-Tory politician and Christian apologist Ann Widdecombe reckons it's easier to be a Nazi than a Christian in England these days. In a radio 5 interview she claimed the following...

"Christians now have quite a lot of problems, whether it's that you can't display even very discreet small symbols of your faith at work, that you can't say 'God bless you', you can't offer to pray for somebody, if it's an even bigger stance on conscience that you're taking, some of the equality laws can actually bring you to the attention of the police themselves."

"So I think it is a very difficult country now, unlike when I was growing up, in which to be a Christian, an active Christian at any rate." 

Christians also faced a "sort of atheism" that "wouldn't once have been said". There used to be a view that "we've all got freedom of conscience, we've all got freedom of expression", she said. 

"In the 1950s when plenty of people had lost lives and limbs and loved ones to the Nazis, it was still possible to be a Nazi in this country. 

"When we were engaged in the height of the Cold War, when there were all those weapons lined up on the borders of the Warsaw Pact countries pointing straight at us, you could still, in this country, proclaim yourself as a Communist, you could still stand for Parliament for that matter as a Communist. 

"You wouldn't get in but you could stand. You could sell the Morning Star on street corners. 

"We have always respected, no matter how strongly we felt as a nation at the time, we've always respected the right of people to their own views and I do feel nowadays as a combination of political correctness and equality law and all the rest of it, we've started suppressing the expression of conscience."

It's harder to decide what will have a smaller cultural impact, this childish, foot stamping rant or her undignified appearance on strictly; in the interests of equality I am obliged to laugh equally at both. I find it hard to believe that someone like this, who is famous for having a mouth like the Mersey tunnel in receipt of a privileged and elite education i.e. better equipped than most to field a decent argument (if she had one) would feel that she couldn't say "God bless you" whenever the hell she liked, who would stop her?

Much like the recent row about intolerant and extreme Muslim influence in UK schools, religious people have gotten used to the idea that whatever they do so long as they invoke the concept of "faith" (or conscience as she puts it) should be unconditionally respected and immune from ridicule or criticism. Widdecombe chooses to focus on things like wearing jewellery to work and hurt feelings but I'd respect her more if she called out other things millions of religious people think are kosher because they are "faith based", like, discrimination, child abuse, gender segregation, homophobia, extremism, anti-science education, jihad and so on. Unfortunately for whining apologists like Widdecombe rational people are no longer willing to give automatic respect to infantile belief systems just because the adherents demand it, just like strictly, if your Pasodoble isn't up to scratch then best not take it onto the stage wearing sequins and Lycra, people will only laugh at you.

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