ROME, February 14, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Muslim member of the House of Lords told Vatican officials today that Europe must beware of growing “militant” secularism and become “more confident” in its Christianity. Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a political appointee to the House of Lords and chairman of the Conservative Party, led a delegation of British ministers this week on a visit to the Vatican.
“For me one of the most worrying aspects about this militant secularization is that at its core and in its instincts it is deeply intolerant. It demonstrates similar traits to totalitarian regimes – denying people the right to a religious identity because they were frightened of the concept of multiple identities,” she said.
In a speech today to future Vatican diplomats at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome, Warsi quoted Pope Benedict’s speech at Westminster Hall in 2010, warning against an “intolerant” and “militant” secularization that is taking hold of British and other European societies.
“Too often there is a suspicion of faith in our continent. It all hinges on a basic misconception – that to create equality and space for minorities we need to erase our religious heritage,” she continued.
Referring to the many cases in recent years of secularists suing or harassing Christian believers, Warsi warned that Britain is sliding into a totalitarian mindset, “when signs of religion cannot be displayed or worn in government buildings; when states won’t fund faith schools; and where religion is sidelined, marginalized and downgraded in the public sphere.”
Warsi made her comments as a growing public backlash spreads in Britain over a court ruling against Bideford town council in Devon. The National Secular Society (NSS) sued the council to abolish Christian prayers before public meetings, a custom that had been in place since the 17th century. Legal experts said the case could have affected a wide array of public activities, including the celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
An atheist town councilor, Mr. Clive Bone, complained and the NSS took the council to court, which ruled the prayers were not lawful under the Local Government Act 1972, but said the prayers did not conflict with Mr. Bone’s human rights under the European Convention. The court said that prayers could be said as long as councilors are not formally summoned to attend.
The case has sparked an outcry, with supporters of freedom of religion saying they have had enough of aggressive secularists riding roughshod over the country’s traditions. Unlike Canada or the US, Britain has no formal legal separation of Church and State and the Church of England is the constitutionally established religion with the Queen as its head.
Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, called the ruling “surprising and disappointing” and the case “ludicrous” and has vowed that the government will oppose it. He said, “Public authorities – be it Parliament or a parish council – should have the right to say prayers before meetings if they wish.” Pickles’s comments have been backed up by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.
But the apparent support for Christian freedom of expression by politicians has failed to impress some Christians, who point out that both the current coalition government, with a Conservative prime minister, and the former Labour government, have supported “Equality” legislation and the militant homosexualist political movement that have been the twin perpetrators in the campaign to shut Christianity out of public life.
Julian Mann, writing in Christian Today, said responses like Warsi’s speech in Rome are typical of the “soft PC” or “moderate” politically correct left who enjoy the pomp and trappings of a “residue of safe, formal Christianity” represented by the mainstream of the Church of England.
While “hard” secularists like the NSS are actively campaigning to abolish all public expressions of Christianity, the politicians objecting to the Bideford ruling, Mann said, are merely enjoying “the ceremonial trappings” and substantial MP payscales involved in supporting “a constitutional monarchy with a liberal and ineffectual established church.”
Christians’ “conviction about the Lordship of Christ,” he wrote, is in direct opposition to the general left/liberal and sexually permissive drive of modern politics, whether of the Labour or Conservative party.
“Soft PC leaders, even Conservative ones, for all their vociferous talk against aggressive secularism, are still arguing for same-sex pseudo-marriage and are not arguing for the repeal of the Sexual Orientation Regulations 2007.”
“It was under those Stalinesque PC rules that Christian bed and breakfast owners, Peter and Hazelmary Bull, were prosecuted for wanting to uphold biblical standards in their own home,” Mann said.
While politicians are joining the general cry against shutting “religion” out of the public sphere, actual statistics have shown many times that it is specifically Christianity, not generic “religion” that is being targeted.
A recent study taken in Scotland showed that of 693 charges of religiously aggravated hate crimes in 2010-11 the majority, 58 percent, were against Catholics, who represent only about 16 percent of the Scottish population. Thirty-seven percent of the incidents were against Protestants, 2.3 per cent against Jews and 2.1 per cent against Muslims.