Tuesday, 24 February 2009

God in public life

I am very aware of a massive difference between what the broadsheet intelligensia say about religion and its role in society and what most ordinary people would say. I must say I am pretty sick of reading papers and hearing new reports that are biased and at times aggresive regarding the faith of many millions of people and the influence that such faith has. I see so many Christians exercising their faith and allowing it to have an influence on lives around them - there is a kind of blindness to this that seems to have infected the people and places of power in this country. An ex-Archbishop I know used to spend a significant amount of time trying to highlight the foolishness of privatising religion and isolating it from any influence on public life. Militant atheists and certain government ministers have exerted pressure to remove religious influence from public life and yet the following article and BBC poll would suggest that ordinary people still roundly reject secularism. Hurrah!


A BBC poll suggests that most people want religion and the values derived from it to play an important role in British public life.
Of 1,045 people questioned by ComRes, 62% were in favour.
Meanwhile, 63% of those questioned agreed that laws should respect and be influenced by the UK's traditional religious values.
The findings contrast with calls from some politicians and secularist groups to exclude faith from the public arena.
Guiding principles
The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor warned a few years ago that Christianity was "all but vanquished" as the guiding principle for Britain's moral framework.
Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor argued that Christian beliefs - such as the sanctity of human life and the rule "do as you would be done by" - should continue to underpin the behaviour of Britons.
Church leaders have warned that recent legislation has elevated goals such as freedom from discrimination for homosexual people, above the freedom of religion.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams warned that the government was using legislation to control people's morals as well as their behaviour.
Secularists, including an increasingly militant atheist movement, have stepped up their campaign to "free" the public from what they see as the burden of a lingering attachment to religious belief.
There have been advertisements on the sides of buses, and in the last few days, a network of student humanist associations has been inaugurated.

However, the BBC poll indicates that even at a time when baptisms, church weddings and attendance at Sunday services are declining, people are unwilling for secularism to displace religion altogether.
They may be dubious about specific religious beliefs, and unwilling to accept the teaching of religious organisations about how they should lead their lives, but the survey suggests they are not yet ready to cast God out of public life.

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