Monday, 7 April 2014

Pickles lectures on tolerance

That unlikely self-appointed champion of tolerance and  ironically titled 'Communities Secretary' Tory Eric Pickles has said that militant atheists need to be more tolerant.  

'This is a Christian country with an established church and atheists just need to get over it' - he says in a characteristically conciliatory response to people who have quite reasonably tried to prevent local councils having prayers at their meetings.

Now I am a pretty tolerant for a militant atheist - I mean some of my best friends are believers. And I acknowledge that of all the challenges to peace justice and the pursuit of happiness that mankind faces in the early 21st Century religion is but one of many. In fact with the collapse of anything like social democracy these days, it seems to be left only too often to church leaders to mildly question the worst excesses of unfettered market forces.

But after a weekend spent in which I self-indulgently watched the wonderful 1970 'Cromwell' movie (a chap who was hardly a stranger to strong religious belief himself) championing the essentially individual and private nature of conscience and belief, it is simply unbelievable that we are still arguing about the separation of church and state.

Especially when we are arguing with a man like Pickles who looks like he would have been so at home as a bloated bigoted and corrupt Tory squire.


Dr Llareggub said...

Mr Pickles does not inspire me, but militant atheism does have an agenda, part of which is to destabilise British culture, but for me more important is its attempt to destabilise working class culture and its links with the past. My memories of the local colliery band playing Christmas carols, turning out for the funeral services of coal miners, of great Welsh working class orators and educators from non conformist backgrounds, are part of what I am. This religious heritage enables me to identify with my class. And here lies the danger of militant atheism. Look around, and see the apparent ridiculousness of militant atheism. What inspired me to write this comment was reading of a typical assault on religion: a parent threatening a school for imposing religious values by sending out invitations to an Easter Egg hunt. The separation of Church and State was apparently threatened. Truth is, no one is threatening atheists. I have no religious convictions, but would gladly recommend that the militant atheists take their agenda and bugger off to North Korea.

Journeyman said...

Certain 'militant atheists' are may be guilty of intellectual obsessing whilst ignoring real class issues like austerity and the race to the bottom.

But I suspect that many of the stories about banning religious symbols etc are Daily Mail inspired fixtures like the EU in Brussels trying to ban Cornish pasties etc.

The real point is that Christian (or any other) prayers have no place in a council meeting - a (supposedly) democratic institution that represents the WHOLE community.