29 August 2007

The Religionisation of Journalism

This companion and contrast to my last piece has been prompted by the decision of the editor (or it maybe the deputy editor playing the fool while the chief is away since this is the silly season) of Leicester Mercury to offer a weekly column to the local Bishop to regale us with his views on anything he chooses. Is this what passes for professional journalism these days?

In days past journalists were capable of providing us with plenty of views of their own devising based on their observations of society and their interviews with its denizens. Now whenever there is any emotive or moraly challenging event they turn first to the local vicar for his judgment. Why should "faith" in the existence of mysterious beings behind the workings of the universe gives them greater insight than people who have studied the problems in a rational manner?

At least the editor has published three letters (one from myself) condemning his decision, and hoping that it is not too late to rescind it. The editors original Opinion piece is, somewhat bizarrely, on the this is leicestershire site in the News/Opinion section under the heading "Time to Stop Illegal Tipping"!

The Bishop's piece can be found by doing a search, but is not otherwise readily findable on the site. Our three letters are of course in the Letters section. The letters are usually only retained on the site for a short while, but I will reproduce them on the Leicester Secular Society Diary page to keep them current.

The two quotes from the Bishop's article that I focused on in my response are:

"Across the County, the Church of England sponsors and supports nearly 100 primary and secondary schools in order to provide a Christian upbringing for each generation."

"Faith cannot be confined to the personal and private sphere - it has to do with public truth and with how human society is ordered and managed."

In the first he is openly expressing the evangelising purposes of the Church of England in involving itself in education (as was made so clear in the 2001 Dearing report "The Way Ahead").

In the second he is showing how religious bodies cannot be trusted to carry out secular functions in an objective manner, without bringing in their own subjective fantasies, to which they give the name "faith". As I say in my leter: Public policies must be based strictly on the facts of the case, and not on "faith" in some supernatural intervention or doctrinaire outdated religious notions.

19 August 2007

The Politicisation of Religion

Is it paranoid of me to think that this is the greatest threat to the world and to continuation of the scientific enlightenment into the next millennium?

Last Sunday there was a massive demonstration/rally in Indonesia calling for a Grand Caliphate of all Muslim countries based on Islamic law.

This project is openly proclaimed by Hizb-ut-Tahrir in Britain.

Equally on the American side there are the Dominionists who claim that America is or should be a Christian country, for instance: Christianity is Americas True Faith by Al Bedrosian.

This is despite the fact that the founding fathers were definitely not Christians.

This thesis is expounded in a new book, American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America by Chris Hedges who is himself a Christian writer. For an account of his views see here also.

Some of the links here came from an alarming discussion on the BCSE forum. The British Centre for Science Education is concerned principally to campaign against the teaching of creationism in our schools. This is just one aspect of the politicisation of religion.