The far right activist James Goddard, who is one of the MP stalkers outside the Houses of Parliament, holds a lot of views I don’t agree with. That hardly matters. In this divided and broken country, we’re still allowed to hold differing views. Provided he stays within the law – and he goes to great lengths in order to just about do that – he’s allowed to be far right, anti-Europe and anti-Islam. But it’s a bit more complicated than that, isn’t it?
Mr Goddard argues that Britain should get rid of Islam because we are a “Christian country”. Well, I have a problem with that right from the start. It is not because I am an atheist – although I am and find all religions practice belief systems with which I profoundly disagree – but also because I am a secularist. I don’t believe this country should be any kind of theocracy.
This is to say that no religion should have any kind of privileges and advantages above anyone else. The only law that counts is the law of the land as determined by politicians in our parliament and not by vicars, priests, imams and all the rest. But at the same time, everyone should be able to practice their own religion under a common law.
There would be no special time off work for religious activity, except where defined by parliament. Anyone else wanting time off could apply for annual leave in the same way anyone else would who wanted a day off. There would be no religious schools of any kind. As soon as you have one type of religious school, other religions demand their own schools. And why? To indoctrinate the next generation of god-worshippers. And no special arrangements for religious people to kill animals either for food or religious ceremonies other than by nationally approved welfare standards. So no halal or kosher meat.
Mr Goddard’s idea that this is a “Christian country” is simply untrue in a country where the majority of people do not subscribe to a particular religion and even those who do call themselves religious do so only in the most general way (“I’m CofE”). And church-going is at an all-time low.
I don’t suggest banning any particular religion, although I do accept that some religions can overstretch their levels of influence and can, inadvertently or not, harbour people who want to kill and maim those of other religions or none. Like Islam. But not all muslims want to blow us up. Within a secular state, we all know the rules. A secular state where everyone is treated the same, everyone has the right to worship their own god and the rest of us can get on with our lives without interference from Godwhackers.
And anyway no one is born religious. Almost everyone who grows up believing in God, believes in the same religion as their parents. This is not a happy coincidence. I’d like to see everyone make up their own minds when they are old enough to do all the things you can’t do until you’re old enough. That makes more sense, doesn’t it, than inflicting a religion on a young child who is far more likely to believe in a supernatural creator than one who was brought up to make up their own mind.