The ‘religious big cheese guys say religion is good and important and necessary‘ thing again. It occurs to me that I forgot to say well they would, wouldn’t they. I mean it’s a pretty funny story and headline, if you think about it. ‘Leaders back faith in public life’ the BBC has it – presumably because it would look too silly to say ‘Clerics back faith in public life’ and lead to a deafeningly raucous chorus of ‘No, really?!’ You might as well have a news headline saying ‘Shoe sellers back shoes on public feet’ or ‘Car makers back cars on public highways’. I mean what else would a couple of topp clerics say? ‘Clerics declare religion a waste of time and attention’? So they made it ‘leaders’ in order to fool people, also perhaps to reinforce the hidden assumption that clerics are in fact leaders.
Really when you come right down to it the whole exercise is just an unsubtle bit of job-protection. It’s like tobacco company executives earnestly assuring Congress that as far as they know and to the very best of their knowledge and understanding, tobacco is not addictive no indeed uh uh nope. It’s like the sugar people saying that sugar gets a bad rap. It’s like PR people doing PR for the PR industry. Archbishops moaning about atheism is like queens moaning about republicanism or doctors wishing more people would get sick. It carries just a faint, tiny, barely detectable whiff of self-interest about it. And if you look at it that way, of course, they are the very last people anyone should listen to on the subject. They’re wheeled out as experts, but what if they’re not so much experts as people with a vested interest? What if they’re simply guys who want to hang onto their posh jobs? At the very least it discredits their line of patter.
Alun at Archaeoastronomy has an amusing post on the Archbishop of York’s latest grumblings at atheists and secularism.