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Muriel Gray on religion August 5, 2005

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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I’m linking to this half because I can (have just learnt how to) and because it gave me such a flashback to see Muriel Gray’s name in print. Obviously I haven’t thought about her for 20 years, and didn’t know she was still in the public eye. Well, I’m not too sure I’d express my irreligiousness with this level of vitriol, quite, but I’m always happy to read an atheist’s words in what I still view as tough times for atheists. (Don’t) Read her words here. (Article deleted again.)

Update: article here.

Or in full:

What’s the definition of a Conservative? A liberal who’s been mugged. I’ve kept this gag close over the last few weeks, lodging it as a reminder that immediate responses to the London nightmare are unlikely to be reasonable or helpful. But it’s been hard.

As the body parts of the murdered commuters were being bagged, and Iraqi children were blown apart for taking sweets from an American soldier, I sat by our daughter’s intensive care bed where, for the second time during her regrettably eventful 10 years, medical geniuses had saved her life. A pair of surgeons who shame Michelangelo with sculpting skills in flesh and bone, an anaesthetist possessed of the magic to rekindle glowing embers of life back into flame, and a team of tireless doctors and nurses grafted and toiled or her behalf in the sweltering temperatures of the Edinburgh heatwave, and then carried on grafting and toiling on behalf of all the other tiny mites and scraps of existence passing through their care.

It was impossible, while sitting reading the news in the pallid gloom of a ward silent save for ventilators breathing and heart monitors bleeping, not to make the sentimental juxtaposition of those who work so hard to fix broken human beings and those who work hard at breaking them. The difficulty was keeping not just tears, but hatred at bay. But thankfully it has come to a head.

As the news broke of the suspected bomber shot dead in the London Underground, a revolting emotion bubbled to the surface like marsh gas, that of exultation in revenge. It whispered: “Take that you murdering sod.” It was the dark shame of having felt such a primitive tug that served the reminder not to be the mugged liberal, and even before we learned of the man’s innocence, the unconditional love of my fellow man was thankfully rebooted. That dead man was once someone’s darling baby boy, a bouncing, burbling bundle with all the pieces in place to delight in life. He is yet another victim now; murdered in error as a direct result of the insane, murderous, repugnant fascist philosophy that is driving young men across the globe to tear their own flesh apart alongside their victims.

Everyone is being blamed, from the obvious villainous duo of George W Bush and Tony Blair, to the inaction of Muslim “communities”. But it has never been clearer that there is only one place to lay the blame and it has ever been thus. The cause of all this misery, mayhem, violence, terror and ignorance is of course religion itself, and if it seems ludicrous to have to state such an obvious reality, the fact is that the government and the media are doing a pretty good job of pretending that it isn’t so.

Bush’s fundamentalist Christian insanity seems temporarily forgotten, and there is much talk of moderate Islam as if this is a jolly good thing, when in fact, in tandem with all other world religions, very much including Bush’s, it is a Dark Ages nonsense that should, of course, be tolerated and its adherents protected and permitted to practice it peacefully, but falls a very long way from meriting respect. The age of enlightenment freed reasoning humans from the shackles of crudely hewn anthropomorphic gods, leaving these man-made deities to serve those who wished to keep them alive for the purposes of comforting self-delusion, social control – particularly the control of women – and the validation of power, violence and aggression.

For the government of a secular country such as ours [Britain] to treat religion as if it had real merit instead of regarding it as a ridiculous anachronism, which education, wisdom and experience can hopefully overcome in time, is one of the most depressing developments of the 21st century. Religious people must be treated with the same respect as non-religious people, but their religions should quite properly be regarded with the weary contempt they deserve. Instead we have debates on TV news shows between hardline Muslim scholars and moderate Muslim politicians without any intervening voice of scepticism suggesting that the whole darned thing might be just as invented as virgin births and Mormon tablets.

We have bishops arguing with Christian women about ordination as if this is an important issue, again without the obvious interjection that it is unlikely in the extreme that there exists any god at all, never mind a peculiar one who cares what sex wears the cassock. And there goes old nutty Ruth Kelly using taxpayers’ money to introduce a whole new clutch of assorted religious schools that will abuse the innocence of trusting children by teaching them superstition alongside facts to ensure they cannot separate the two.

The defence of any attacked faith is always to say: “You don’t understand our religion.” It’s considerably more likely that those defenders of their irrational beliefs have failed to understand Montesquieu, Hume, Rousseau and Diderot. The tattooed drunken morons attending an Orange walk are hardly theologians.

Since these are dark days, it’s time to stop all this polite tiptoeing around religion and harden up accordingly. Our elected leaders constantly bleating their respect for religion is not political correctness but a public declaration that intellect, tolerance, democracy, reason and enlightenment are of less value than dogma and delusion. Now’s the moment for a clear, definite, distinct line to be drawn between state and religion, one that defends the individual’s right to follow whatever ideology he or she wishes within the law, but also firmly declares and vigorously defends our collective ideals of gender equality, respect for differing sexual orientations and reinforces the message that there is no room whatsoever for the supernatural and the irrational. No bishops, mullahs, Presbyterian ministers, rabbis, or Scientologists should be gifted special hearings at Downing Street, but should confine themselves to wielding their power and freedom as the rest of us do, namely as ordinary voters, and the state-funded faith schools that shame us all with their manipulation of young minds must cease. We have all been mugged, but the shock must take us back to reason and as far away from religion as we can get.

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