Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Don't You Dare Call Us Extremists! Secularist Outrage at Tony Blair Speech

Speaking at a conference of religious scholars at Georgetown University the other day, Tony Blair referred to the threat to religion from secularist fanatics, saying "We face an aggressive secular attack from without."

It's such an obvious and uncontentious point as to be banal. But Atheist secularists have gone beserk about it.

One complained:

"Tony Blair equated atheists to religious extremists and urged the deluded (i.e., faithful) to unite against us. Seeing this sort of bigotry from someone of Blair's prominence is disturbing."

Another moaned:

Blair never says outright in this address that atheists or atheist activists are just as bad as, say, Al Qaeda, but even giving him the benefit of the doubt, the very fact that he would place secularism and religiously motivated violence in the same context is astounding, offensive, and shows an incredible lack of depth of thinking--not to mention revealing a level of animosity toward nonbelievers on the part of Blair that I am surprised to find exists.

What's so amusing about all this is secularists' certitude of their moral superiority compared to the religious. Their self-image is so inflated as to be dangerously deluded. Secularists who get terribly upset when they're described as aggressive don't know their history - Vendée Massacre, anyone? - make no attempt to clean out malicious nutters in their own ranks - the secularist reaction to PZ Myers desecration stunt was, uh, deafening, wasn't it? - and arguably haven't sorted out in their own minds what secularism even is.

That purveyor of prejudice, The National Secular Society, which describes its raison d'etre as "promoting the separation of church and state etc etc" has already been covered here. The British Humanist Association, (BHA) a not dissimilar body, sees itself as advancing "a world without religious privilege or discrimination, where people are free to live good lives on the basis of reason, experience and shared human values" as well as existing to "promote Humanism and support and represent people who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs."

That's what it says it is.

But what's this on the BHA's homepage, a press release criticising the increased "conservatism" of the Church of England?

It gets round the obvious point that it isn't any of its damn business how the Church of England conducts its internal affairs by hooking it to a point about faith schools - the BHA doesn't like the existence of free state-funded faith schools - and another one about the Anglican and Catholic Church's concerns with the Equality Bill. The churches are not unreasonably worried that it could, among other silly things, lead to Christian schools and care homes being forced to take down crucifixes as well as having a "chilling effect on the public expression and practice of religious belief". The BHA, which isn't concerned about this at all, even though, remember, it claims to oppose religious discrimination, cynically uses the Churchs' concerns as a stick to beat them with.

The BHA's website helpfully provides an lengthy list of its "distinguished supporters" and very interesting anorakish reading it makes too. Among the list of luminaries are - of course - Dolphinarium's very own Venomballs - whose notorious suggestion that Catholics should be discriminated against in public life again seems very much at odds with the BHA's professed opposition to religious discrimination - and Baroness Shreela "tell the poor to have fewer children" Flather, both of whom, as I have noted before, are also honorary associates of the NSS.

Another one of the BHA's distinguished supporters is actress and cake-decorator, Jane Asher. It can't be the same Jane Asher who sent her daughter, Katie Scarfe, to an exclusive Knightsbridge private Roman Catholic girls school, can it? Naah, couldn't possibly be the same person. That would taste of humbug, wouldn't it?


Blogger Londiniensis said...

I am perfectly reasonable, you are being an idiot for not seeing the point, he is a dangerous extremist.

Did I just note a touch of sympathy for A.R.P. Blair, whose uprooting of traditional Labour values and embrace of PC created fertile ground for these types of idocy?

10/14/2009 3:21 AM  
Blogger Red Maria said...

Sorry, Londiniensis, I don't know what you're on about. Who is a dangerous extremist?

Sympathy for Blair? I wouldn't call it that. With this speech he wasn't exactly off the mark.

10/14/2009 7:09 AM  
Blogger Patriccus said...

Far be it for me to correct a fellow's spelling, Londiniensis (perish the thought!) - but doesn't the word "idiocy" have two "i"s?

Just saying, like....

10/14/2009 3:07 PM  
Blogger dillydaydream said...

" the deluded (i.e., faithful)to unite against us. Seeing this sort of bigotry from someone of Blair's prominence is disturbing."

So a sentence containing a piece of bigotry is followed by outrage at Blair's bigotry.
Atheists lack a certain....self knowledge...sense of irony....can't quite find the word for it.

10/17/2009 2:52 PM  
Blogger Merseymike said...

Of course secularists attack religion - I want to see it have as little influence as possible because I profoundly disagree with it and think its place should be purely in the private sphere.

Yes, I am 100% opposed to Catholicism and proud of it.

10/23/2009 5:05 AM  

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