Are Western Secular Societies Under Threat?

by Neil Bamforth

I am not going to express my opinion here – “That’s a first!” you cry – but, whilst I am entitled to my view, I am far more interested in yours. The question in the title (assuming the Editor hasn’t had to change it) is, ‘Are Western Secular Societies Under Threat?’

The question applies to both sides of ‘the pond’ I would suggest as, reading about such things, there does appear to be something of a rise in Christian fundamentalism in the USA.

Secular, of course, means a society where politics and religion are kept well apart – and a good thing too if you ask me, albeit I am refraining from expressing my opinion here. Sorry, forgot.

Anyway.

In the USA, there does seem to be a considerable amount of ‘religion’ popping up in American politics. Primarily Christian. If even half of what those of us outside the USA hear and read, then there is clearly far too much religion or, to be more accurate, religious beliefs, cropping up in American politics.

This is very dangerous ground. As soon as you allow religion to be introduced into political debate – apart from the obviously justifiable reasons, such as religious tolerance and so forth – then you are sliding down a very slippery slope indeed.

As I am a Brit I can do no more than express an observation of American politics. I know there has always been a degree of this Christian business in American politics but, is it my imagination or, is the involvement of Christian belief having far more influence today than yesterday?

In Britain, we have pretty much managed to keep religion at bay politically speaking. Ever since Henry VIII had a fall out with Catholicism, religion has taken an increasing fringe like position in our political landscape.

However, Britains ‘landscape’ is changing in some areas, and quite dramatically.

At the Parkfield Community School in Birmingham, a school program was started four years ago saying it should welcome people of any race, color, religion and those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

The idea was to educate children that everyone is equal. To educate them not to fear ‘differences’. To educate them not to be intolerant or hateful to anyone because of their skin color, religious beliefs or their sexual orientation.

This program was extremely successful until now.

Why now I have no idea. I can only presume that the parents of the children now protesting at this program, didn’t have children at the school, or of an age were they were included in it, when it began four years ago.

Three hundred Muslim parents have protested vocally outside the school and succeeded in having the program closed down.

They have stated that homosexuality is wrong in Islam and, therefore, they will not allow their children to be ‘indoctrinated’ into accepting homosexuality or any other sexual choice deviating from heterosexuality.

The parents’ anger is aimed at the school’s assistant head Andrew Moffat, who is behind the ‘No Outsiders’ lessons, as they are named. He created the scheme to teach children about the Equality Act and British values.

Pupils at the school – rated outstanding by ‘Ofsted’, which is the schools inspectorate in Britain – have five of these lessons a year, covering areas outlined in the Equality Act. Age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

The program was first piloted at the school in 2014 and is now also taught at dozens of other schools in the country.

Andrew Moffat was actually awarded an MBE for services to equality and diversity in education in 2017 and, I have ascertained through research – WOW! Me? Research? What is the world coming too? – he is currently shortlisted for a ‘world’s best teacher’ award.

Through the aforementioned research – I really should make a habit of this research thing shouldn’t I? – He was forced to resign from a previous teaching post at another school after a row with Christian parents, over lessons challenging homophobia – and is now facing even louder vocal complaints from parents at Parkfield School, where 98 per cent of the 750 pupils are said to be from an Islamic background.

So, first the teacher is forced out by ‘Christians’ who don’t like gay people, and now he is to be forced out by ‘Islamic’ parents who don’t like gay people.

It appears that religion is being allowed to influence in places that it shouldn’t.

In America, as far as I can tell, more fundamentalist Christian ideas are seeping into the political side of things and, in Britain, whilst we have the odd ‘Christian’ thing going on, it seems to be more Islam that is interfering.

Respecting the religious faith of others is all well and good but, it is beholden on them to respect our views as well.

When our liberal secular societies arrive at a stage where we are actively encouraging and educating children into not growing up into bigots, we really need to explain to the religious among us who disagree, that they are living in a liberal secular society so, they either accept it or, if they cannot, they go and find somewhere else to live and spout their religious bigotry where ever they end up.

The problem is, we struggle to say such things as we are a liberal secular society and, as such, we want to include everyone, including the religious bigots.

So, what should we do?

I have an opinion of course, but I am far more interested in what you think about all of this religious stuff increasingly harming our western liberal secular societies.

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Posted by on March 12, 2019. Filed under COMMENTARY/OPINION. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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3 Responses to Are Western Secular Societies Under Threat?

  1. Michael John Scott Reply

    March 12, 2019 at 11:08 am

    The US is loaded with the Fundie Fuckers, and they are enabled by the Trump administration. Trump himself, whose shadow never darkened the door of a church until he ran for president, is now wanting all schools to teach Bible studies. By the numbers, however, younger people are backing away from the Jesus crazy in the droves, and that isn’t expected to change, except for the better in the years to come.

  2. Glenn R. Geist Reply

    March 12, 2019 at 11:47 am

    My mother used to repeat some fairy tale about some wolf crying boy and how he was no longer listened to him when the wolf finally showed up. I suppose it was her way of ignoring what I had to say when I was trying to avoid something I didn’t want to do – like go to school.

    But we are disproving this fable now, aren’t we? They’re getting unconstitutional support from the government and the liars for Jesus are still crying wolf.

    Nobody is attacking Christianity. For one thing it doesn’t actually exist because you can’t define it. But since Roman times the actors in Christ-Face minstral shows have been pretending they’re under attack, not for the fascism, murder, kidnap and rape but because they’re “Christian” They’re still getting away with it. The Vatican is demanding an apology from a comedy show for claiming they’re child molesters – but they are, they have been and it’s only part of the 2000 years of crimes against humanity. It’s the crimes that we’re becoming less tolerant of. Seems a religion based on forgiveness is being liberal about forgiving themselves and damning the accusers.

    So what’s that moving finger writing? Nothing to see there!

  3. jess Reply

    March 13, 2019 at 10:28 am

    I don’t know about that. Seems to me no religion is the choice of more and more people every day and things seem to be swimming along nicely. Why just look at my governor’s actions today putting the halt on executions. If he wasn’t a married man I’d drive up to Sacramento and give him a good one under a table for that, because I have been protesting the death penalty for decades and I am still in my 30s only.

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