This article should offend nobody, yet will probably manage to offend everybody, but so be it, as it needs to be said. Recently Baroness Warsi, co-chairwoman of the Conservative party said that religion is being “sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere.” About the same time a council was taken to court over holding prayers at the start of meetings, a case it lost and as a result the government introduced new laws so that they could do so again.
Lets clarify where I stand, I think that there is no such thing as god, and that the bible and other holy books have as much in common with the real world as Harry Potter, although J. K. Rowling will never make as much money as what the bible has raked in over the past two millennia! My wife and her family on the other hand are Buddhist, my mum is Christian, one of my friends and her family are Muslim, another of my friends is an Atheist while his family are Hindu, and my dad, at the last census identified himself as Jedi! Basically I have access to a wide range of religious beliefs and I don’t have a problem with any of them.
Then again, why would I? I mean, my friends Hindu parents run a shop, and they still sell Beef, and alcohol, and they don’t stop non-Hindus’ from entering the place. My Muslim friends don’t go around demanding Sharia law, in short they keep their faith to themselves and the world works fine! What I have a problem with is when people go to court because they’re not allowed to wear some piece of religious garb. In this case religion should have nothing to do with the decision, take a Christian who wishes to wear a cross on a chain. If they’re an office worker and they wear it discretely, then I can’t see the problem, if the company has a problem with it then unless there is a good reason, it would suggest their uniform policy needs a bit of revision. If that same person is a tool worker, then I see no reason why they should be allowed to wear jewellery, since anyone with half a brain knows jewellery and tools can be dangerous when brought together.
That though is a trivial example. What I most have a problem with is when the government supports religion in public life. I am against reforming the house of Lords to make it an elected chamber, but I am more than happy to see the Bishops kicked out of the house. The Baroness talks about how “religion is sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere”, but I would like to see it abolished all together, be religious if you want, but don’t try to force your beliefs onto others. Examples of this are most common if you look at when religion and homosexuality collide. Despite being an enlightened, civilised country, you still cannot have a same sex marriage, and some businesses such as hotels will still turn away homosexual couples, then cry foul when the law quite rightly slaps them down for doing so.
It made the news today that the creator of Fireman Sam, David Jones was held at Gatwick Airport for questioning why a veiled Muslim woman was allowed to pass through security without showing her face while he was required to remove his scarf. He was held apparently because the law does not require religious headdress to be removed at airport security and a Muslim guard was offended by his remarks. YOU WHAT?! Right terrorists, if you want to go and get on a plane, looks like your first stop is a shop that sells a full veiled headdress! I don’t care what religion you are, and what your beliefs are, you should be required to remove any and all head coverings in airports. In fact I may go as far as agreeing with the French and banning full headdresses in public full stop.
Oh, and before the Atheists get all up themselves, I don’t want to hear from them either! Yes, I may agree with their point of view, but they don’t need to go around shouting it from the rooftops.
So, what do I want? Ultimately a society in which every man and woman is free to practice religion as they see fit. I purposely excluded children since I think forcing religion on a child is tantamount to child cruelty and should be banned. A society in which religion has no part in public life, or the processes of government, a society in which all other rights supersede it. Then you can go and be religious in private, but you can not use religion as a weapon to limit the rights of others and religion will never be used to decide how this country is run.
Is that realistic? Probably not, but it’s no more stupid than what Baroness Warsi, and Bideford Town Council are espousing.