Monday 20 February 2012

Militant Secularists join with others

Today Baroness Warsi, Tory Chairman, suggesting we are being 'overtaken by militant secularists'. It wasn't a term I was familiar with - militant islamists, yes, militant feminists, yes, militant secularists?  The usual term for what, I think, she was talking about (mainly in American politics) - Militant Atheism.  The 'Conservapedia', alongside a large image of Stalin, defines it:

Militant atheism is a term applied to atheism which is hostile towards religion.[2][3][4][5][6][7] Militant atheists regard their doctrine as something to be propagated,[3][8] and thus differ from moderate atheists because they hold religion to be harmful.[4][3][2]

Baroness Warsi warns of a 'rising tide of militant secularisation reminiscent of 'totalitarian regimes'.  As a secular from the moderate wing, I was curious to know what our militant comrades could be doing, somewhere in the UK, linked in some way (apparently) to those radical secular Europeans.  She is, of course, defending the actions of Eric Pickles, Community Secretary, in reversing a High Court ban on councils in England holding prayers 'as part of a formal authority meeting'.  Before the case was heard, Archbishop Rowan Williams suggested what seemed to me like a reasonable compromise - councillors could hold prayers immediately before a meeting, or a moments silence as the meeting start for those who wish to pray, compose thoughts, whatever.

Wihile the seculars have been labelled 'militant', I have not yet heard what adjective is attached to judges or vicars stemming from this hearing and its outcome, but judging from Rowan Williams and other bishop's criticisms of coalition plans on welfare reform, it may not be so long. We've already had 'grubby', 'drunken' and 'promiscuous' nurses', 'scruffy' teachers, any number of adjectives describing union leaders and those scrounging single mums.

I found a site dedicated to help politicians find the right adjective to insult someone - a political insult generator.  Militant, or extremist, are favourites at the moment, and as technically the opposite of 'conservative', a clear favourite with Conservatives.

At least Conservapedia, in the interest of balance, states:

Catherine Fahringer of the Freedom From Religion Foundation suggested that the label militant was often routinely applied to atheist for no good reason – "very much as was the adjective 'damn' attached to the noun 'Yankee' during the Civil War."[154] The Freedom From Religion Foundation, however, has been called a "militant atheist group" in The Washington Examiner.[155]

What exactly is meant by 'militant', and in this case why do we all appear to be arguing for tolerance, but end up putting forward intolerant and confrontational solutions?  Why is it the 'moderate' voices seemed to get drowned out by noise, insults and mud-slinging?

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