Thursday, 19 August 2010

Losing our religion

And now, congregation, put your hands together and give thanks, for I come bearing Good News. Britain is now one of the most irreligious countries on earth. This island has shed superstition faster and more completely than anywhere else. According to an ICM survey, 63 per cent of us are non-believers, while 82 per cent say religion is a cause of harmful division. Now, let us stand and sing our new national hymn: "Jerusalem was dismantled here/in England's green and pleasant land."

How did it happen? For centuries, religion was insulated from criticism in Britain. First its opponents were burned, then jailed, then shunned. But once there was a free marketplace of ideas, once people could finally hear both the religious arguments and the rationalist criticisms of them, the religious lost the British people. Their case was too weak, their opposition to divorce and abortion and gay people too cruel, their evidence for their claims nonexistent. Once they had to rely on persuasion rather than intimidation, the story of British Christianity came to an end.

Now that less than seven per cent of British people regularly attend a religious service, it's only natural that we should dismantle the massive amounts of tax money and state power that are given to the religious. It's a necessary process of building a secular state, where all citizens are free to make up their own minds. Yet the opposition to this shift is becoming increasingly unhinged. The Church of England has only one explanation: Christians are being "persecuted" by a movement motivated by "Christophobia". George Carey (pictured), the former archbishop of Canterbury, says Christians are now "second-class citizens" and we are only "a small step" away from "a religious bar on any employment by Christians".

Really? Let's list some of the ways in which Christians and other religious groups are given special privileges. Read more

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