Power without scrutiny

Andrew Anthony is good on the subject of Warsi’s little talk on “Islamophobia.”

She has complained that the last government was “too suspicious” of faith and treated it as “a rather quaint relic of our pre-industrial history”. Given that Tony Blair was overtly religious, his government expanded and promoted faith schools and consistently tried to pass censorious blasphemy laws, it gives pause to wonder how much more religious Warsi would like her own government to be. 

Really. She thinks Labour wasn’t religious enough?

In citing liberal critics of religion such as Polly Toynbee as representing an “abhorrent” attitude, she certainly made it clear how much less secular she would like society to be.

A lot less.

Last year, Number 10 made her withdraw from the Global Peace and Unity conference in London. Despite its title, the GPU event featured several antisemites and Islamic hate preachers. By all accounts, Warsi was disappointed not to attend. Had she spoken, she intended to challenge extremist attitudes.But she also saw in the GPU a chance to show the power of an organised faith community. As she put it in another speech: “In Britain, the resilience of religion gives us the confidence to reject the intolerance of secularist fundamentalists.”

This is the kind of language that plays well among many religious activists. However, there is a hidden paradox in Warsi’s position. She wants to give greater voice to religion in the political arena, yet she also wishes there to be less criticism of religion, in other words, power without scrutiny.

Just like the pope.

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