Tag Archive | Privilege

Religion isn’t a special case, but that cuts both ways

Minaret 3Since I wrote about Katy Perry and the Dark Horse video, I’ve been involved in quite a lot of discussion about the subject in various places, which I’ve found helpful in crystallising the issues, and where any disagreement might lie. Ideally, I would have liked to cover these areas in the first place – blame fatigue and lack of time – but I think this is a topic that’s worth covering on its own.

One subject that appears to be at the root of a fair amount of disagreement is the sincerity or otherwise of the complaint. Was it a respectful request, or was it cynical rabble rousing? I favour the former, though the latter is definitely a possibility. I’d prefer to err on the side of assuming good faith, especially as none of us can know either way, but it’s an open question, and potentially has a bearing on how it should be responded to. However, this also ties up with a bigger issue. Read More…

Religious complaints are just so childish


It’s not a tantrum, it’s passive resistance. Haven’t you heard of Gandhi?

Now, I know what you’re thinking, but you’d be wrong. This isn’t about mocking religion, or portraying it as some sort of deficit of intelligence or maturity, and there will be no reference to a Sky Daddy (apart from that one, obviously). This isn’t about the beliefs, but how they get applied.

Something I noticed recently, while covering various arguments about social policy, employment legislation and the inevitable complaints of persecution, is that when you scratch a religious person of a certain stripe (and let’s be fair, there are plenty who don’t behave like this), it seems there’s a small, sulky child just under the skin. Here are a few examples to show what I mean: Read More…

Why even the non-religious should regret the church’s backwardness

Cricket LordsOnce, many years ago when I was younger and even more stupid, I found myself hoping that an England cricketer would fail. The year was 1995, and Robin Smith, who I quite admired as a middle-order batsman, had been recalled to open the batting against the West Indies. I thought he was being misused, and that the selectors were most likely to realise their mistake if he suffered a series of low scores, so every run he scored was an irritation.

Maybe I was right about the selectors’ mistakes, but I missed the point, as my friends pointed out to me. What I wanted was to see England perform well, but I’d allowed my personal view of how that should be achieved to take over. I’d missed the obvious truth that if Smith did well, that was good for England. My focus was my preferred means, rather than the end.

My mistake there was glaringly, embarrassingly obvious, but a lot of people fall into a very similar error in relation to the church. Read More…

Practical secularism: Can we distinguish between people and positions?

I was woken this morning by a rather strange story of the Sunday morning variety on the radio. The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police was talking about his faith, and how important it is to him at times like this, after two of his colleagues were killed on duty. It jolted me out of my sleep because it seemed like an egregious intrusion of religion into public service, but the more I think about it, the more complicated it seems to be. Read More…

An Olympic-sized sense of privilege

I reckon I might get hassle if I use any sort of Olympic image, so here’s a kitten instead.

Did you enjoy the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics? I did. I have a tendency to be cynical and mocking about this sort of thing, and there were parts which weren’t really my thing, but overall, I thought it had a really nice blend of history, spectacle and humour, and I thought it was great, in a slightly odd and very British sort of way.

Some people hated it, though, and not just those who are afraid of anything that could be construed as being slightly left-wing, like celebrating the NHS or having some black people involved (yes, really). I know people who have been objecting that it didn’t celebrate our Christian heritage enough. Seriously. Apparently, it’s an important part of our history, so it should have been properly represented. Read More…

Is secularism a gateway drug?

Religion seems to fear secularism. I often hear people saying that secularism is a threat to religion, or treating it as synonymous with atheism. I find these arguments rather odd – secularism has no relation to religion, being a position that can be held by all beliefs or none, and it actually protects believers from persecution by ensuring that no religious belief can take precedence over others and claim the right to enforce its own particular dogma in the public sphere. But my own experience makes me wonder if that fear of secularism might be more rational than I previously thought. Read More…

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