Published on Thursday 22 December 2011 09:31
IN response to Morning View (December 19) I felt compelled to challenge the assertion that the UK needs greater emphasis on the ‘Christian’ moral code.
The article says that the ‘overwhelming majority of citizens in the United Kingdom’ are Christian. According to a 2011 YouGov survey of Great Britain, a bare 55 per cent of respondents described themselves as Christian – of these only 38 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds are Christian, while 70 per cent of over-55s are Christian. In other words, while Christianity is in the majority, just, it soon won’t be.
I note the News Letter failed to report Dr Richard Dawkins’ response to David Cameron’s speech, which described Christianity as ‘an appalling moral compass’. Some Christians may be shocked by this statement.
Let me explain: a cursory reading of the Bible reveals genocide, slavery, treatment of women as little more than property, rape and stoning of people for adultery and other lesser crimes condoned in the Old Testament.
More recently, we have the Inquisition, and in modern times, we are witness to the paedophile scandal engulfing the Catholic church, their campaign to discredit the use of condoms in developing countries in the face of an HIV epidemic, and their complicity in the Holocaust in the signing of the Reichskonkordat.
Protestantism doesn’t get away scot-free either; the record of racism and homophobia by Protestants, predominantly in the United States, is a poor one.
I’ll omit our own Troubles, as nearly everyone, religious and political, comes out looking bad.
I am not saying that Christians are bad people – many of them are loving, kind and generous. You will, however, find that this is also true of non-Christians.
To quote Steven Weinberg, ‘Good people will do good things, and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things, that takes religion.’
Christianity did not ‘create’ morality; it subsumed it from pre-existing society. This is true of other religious moralities, too. Given this was a bronze-age civilisation (Old Testament), or if you prefer iron-age (New Testament), things have moved on in the Zeitgeist (‘spirit of the age’) – the 20th century saw the introduction of equality in gender, race and sexual orientation. These are increasingly considered ‘good’ morals, and have absolutely no basis in religious doctrine.
If you want an idea of what a secular society looks like, largely unfettered by Christianity or any other religion, look to Scandinavia. It should be noted that the Scandinavians have amongst the best social standards and life expectancy in the world.
To finish, I agree that there should be no legislation preventing Christians publicly expressing their faith; I know of no legislation that attempts any such thing, and I think it’s disingenuous of the editorial writer to insinuate that such things are afoot.
I would, however, wish the same thing for all faiths, and those with none, so long as they do not oppress or harm others. As a secular society, free speech is a central pillar of our culture.