Faith groups are to be given a central role in shaping government policies, a senior minister has vowed. John Denham, the communities secretary, said the values of Christians, Muslims and other religions were essential in building a “progressive society”. He attacked secularists who have called for religion to be kept out of public life. Mr Denham revealed that a new panel of religious experts has been set up to advise the Government on making public policy decisions.
What is a ‘communities secretary’ and why does the UK government think it’s a good thing to have one? Why does New Labour have such a chronic frozen painful hard-on for ‘communities’ and community-thought and ‘faith groups’? Why is it so soft in the head? Why is it so determined not to treat people like grown ups?
Mr Denham argued that Christians and Muslims can contribute significant insights on key issues, such as the economy, parenting and tackling climate change.
Meaning they can contribute such insights as Christians and Muslims? Insights that they would not be able to contribute if they were not Christians and Muslims? If so – what, exactly, would those be? What kind of insights? Arrived at how? What can Christianity and Islam tell anyone about the economy? And as for parenting – those could be some pretty dubious insights, unless the ‘communities secretary’ picks his ‘religious experts’ very very carefully indeed.
“Anyone wanting to build a more progressive society would ignore the powerful role of faith at their peril,” he said. “We should continually seek ways of encouraging and enhancing the contribution faith communities make on the central issues of our time. Faith is a strong and powerful source of honesty, solidarity, generosity – the very values which are essential to politics, to our economy and our society.” The minister said that the Government needed to be educated by faith groups on “how to inform the rest of society about these issues”.
I can’t even say anything rational on that; the disgust is too visceral. Why? Because it’s so abject, so crawling, so untrue, so stupid, so insulting. We don’t need “faith” to build a more progressive society; “faith communities” don’t make a contribution on the central issues of our time – most of them do the exact opposite, pitching fits about contraception, gender equality, gay rights, secularism, liberalism, individual rights, non-procreation, and on and on. “Faith” is by no means the only or a particularly good source of honesty or generosity and its talent for solidarity all too often slides into hatred of or indifference to everyone outside the “faith group.” And the government, above all, does not need to be educated by “faith groups” on how to shove religious ideas down everyone’s throats – the very idea is intrusive, presumptuous, patronizing, and mind-bogglingly insulting.
He added that he was sympathetic with religious leaders, such as Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had complained of the rise of aggressive secularism in Britain. “I don’t like the strand of secularism that says that faith is inherently a bad thing to have and should be kept out of public life,” Mr Denham said. The religious panel is being launched this week to coincide with a series of interfaith initiatives designed to increase social cohesion. It is being headed up by Francis Davis, a fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford University, who is a prominent figure in the Catholic Church.
Well isn’t that sweet – the UK government will from now on be advised by a panel headed by a prominent Catholic. Soon the UK will catch up to the US, whose Supreme Court is majority-Catholic.