Remember, the Pope is a Catholic

Julian has a good thing in the Guardian. Makes a change from Andrew Brown.

In order to be a distinct belief system, a religion has to have specific doctrines. That automatically creates two types of dissenters. Heretics are those who claim to be of the same conviction, but who disagree on some fundamentals…Apostates reject the religion altogether…In public life, we allow heretics and apostates their sinful ways. But within religious institutions, to grant the same liberty would be absurd. For example, you can’t have a Pope who thinks the Bible is a good book, but is no more the product of divine authorship than The Da Vinci Code.

Just so. That’s similar to the point Edmund Standing makes in ‘Misdirected Outrage’: that if a religion teaches something, then that is what the religion teaches, and it’s no good pretending it doesn’t.

Either choose the human rights culture born of the rejection of the old discriminatory approaches of religion, or choose the moral order of Allah, the divine dictator. Allah is not a proponent of human rights. Allah does not believe in the right of the individual to choose how to live. Anyone who thinks that Islam and homosexuality can be reconciled is living in a fantasy world. Take a look at what the Qur’an has to say about homosexuality. This is what Islam teaches. Don’t like it? Then get out.

This confusion is behind (or at least enables) a lot of the soft squashy but relentless pressure to ‘respect’ religion at the moment: the mistaken idea that religion is compatible with human rights. But it isn’t. That’s why we hate it, that’s why it’s coercive, that’s why it can’t be argued with or reasoned with, that’s why it has to be kept out of public policy: because it rests on divine dictatorship. It’s really really important to keep that in mind, especially when the ‘let’s be nice to religion because that’s where the votes are’ crowd is writing its wrong-headed polemics.

Back to Julian’s piece:

This matters to more than just believers. The idea of a secular state is currently under fire as people call to bring religion into more areas of public life, such as education. But if more institutions become the domain of religion, questions of heresy and apostasy will become relevant to all who use those institutions, and work for or with them.

And what a nightmare world that would be. Wouldn’t you say? Questions of heresy and apostasy muddying things up in what should be secular institutions? Let’s not go that way.

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