Hardly a week goes by without someone displaying their ignorance in public about what secularism means. This is a simple explanation, for the benefit of anyone, like Baroness Warsi, Eric Pickles MP, the Pope, and Donald Morrison of the Free Church of Scotland (who pities secularists), who doesn’t know what he or she’s talking about. The video was produced by QualiaSoup for the National Secular Society.
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The problem with Secularism is that too many people don’t know what it means. It’s frequently used to describe a form of repressive atheism that’s anti-religion. The National Secular Society explains it succinctly: Secularism is a principle that involves two basic propositions. The first is the strict separation of the state from religious institutions. The second is that people of different religions and beliefs are equal before the law. The former...
Margaret Nelson will be on the James Hazell Show to talk about all the fuss generated by the Bideford ruling on council prayers, and the claims of “aggressive secularism”.
Times shown aren’t exact. You can listen on i-Player or Listen Again.
Click here to read Baroness Warsi’s speech to the Vatican today, in full. You might want to pour yourself a stiff drink first. You’ll need it.
Europe needs to become more confident in its Christianity.
Let us be honest –
Too often there is a suspicion of faith in our continent, where signs of religion cannot be displayed or worn in government buildings, where states won’t fund faith schools, and where faith is sidelined, marginalised and downgraded.
European parliamentarians have set up a new website as a platform for secularism in Europe. The European Parliament Platform for Secularism in Europe (EPPSP) is a forum for Members of the European Parliament and civil society. Sophie in â€˜t Veld MEP, its chair, explains the purpose of the new website:
These proverbs from Slovakia show the other side of “family values”. This is the name of a whole system of control which can prevent a woman from leaving an abusive marriage and further cement her in place by burdening her with unplanned children. The control imposed by the Vatican disproportionately affects women. That’s because the hierarchy of obedience which goes from the pope to the parish priest doesn’t stop there: it continues on, from the head of the household down to his wife.
Women must be kept at home and bearing children for the Church. Ordaining them as priests would give them dangerous authority. On 29 May 2008 the Vatican issued a decree “Regarding the crime of attempting sacred ordination of a woman”. This is such a grave offence that it incurs automatic excommunication, on a par with heresy, schism, and laying violent hands on the Pope.
Just one of several letters in response to an article by Esther Addley in The Guardian on 2nd April – Cardinal attacks ‘aggressive’ secularism gaining ground in UK. Read down the page for another from the BHA’s CEO, Hanne Stinson.
Tony Blair and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor deliberately conflate secularism with atheism. Atheism is lack of belief in gods. Secularism is a belief in equality in politics, education and law, regardless of religious belief. So when they refer to “militant secularism” and “aggressive secularism”, respectively, then they are implying that such equality of treatment is a bad thing.
Secularism is the belief that religion should have no place in civil affairs; that the church and state should be kept separate. There are religious secularists who agree with these principles but we are not religious.
A fully secular state is the only sort where everyone is free to practice his or her religion or to live free from religion without interference, provided that he or she doesn’t expect any privileges because of his or her personal beliefs, and doesn’t seek to impose them on anyone else.
Hundreds of thousands of people have rallied in Istanbul in support of secularism in Turkey, amid a row over a vote for the country’s next president.
Secularisation is not on the retreat in western Europe. Yet it is true that new threats to individual liberties and to the religious neutrality of governments are coming from many (not all) organised religious denominations. National situations are somehow different from one another, but nowhere in Europe is the society going back to the time when a common set of religiously-based beliefs was the one and basic common ground for values and views shared by almost every member of the society itself.