Should Britain become a secular state?

#1
I’ll lay my cards on the table; I am religious believer a Christian to be precise. But I am coming to the conclusion that Britain needs to officially accept that is post religious secularist state, which of course means dis-establishing the Church (ha!) of England.

Reasons for secularism

The vast majority of people are not actually practising Christians. They may be ‘culturally Christian’ and there is no doubt that Britain as does the rest of Europe owe a lot to its Christian heritage and yes there are nods to religious festivals such as Easter and Christmas but the truth is even these festivals have taken on their own non-religious identity.

Social Morals/values – Christianity, whether you like it or not is actually at odds with some of liberal values that we accept as being main stream today.

It makes everything a lot fairer, don’t like the veil, crucifixes in public? simple in a secularist country, you can ban them from the public spheres. Schooling wise withdraw state funding from religious schools means that the majority of children would be taught the same ‘societal values’. Religious schools would of course be free to operate independently.

There can be no such thing as pure secularism but official secularism may actually strengthen the role of religion within the country. The Church of England could actually figure out if it was a Christian church and actually start acting like one. Religion is a powerful force and independence for the Church of England from the state could actually make it a more of an effective force. Also there is also nothing stopping the secularist government with having ties or helping religions to regulate themselves.

The acceptance of Britain as a post religious state would also in my mind help the country culturally and socially to come to terms with its self. It would also end many of the stupid debates that we have about religion today.

edited to add definition of state secularism from wikipedia

State Secularism

In political terms, secularism is a movement towards the separation of church and state. This is the idea that religion should not interfere with or be integrated into the public affairs of a society. This can refer to reducing ties between a government and a state religion, replacing laws based on scripture (such as the Ten Commandments and Sharia law) with civil laws, and eliminating discrimination on the basis of religion.

Secularism is often associated with the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, and plays a major role in Western society. The principles, but not necessarily practices, of Separation of church and state in the United States and Laïcité in France draw heavily on secularism.

It is claimed to be an essential component of a secular-humanist political ideology, the justification being that it adds to democracy by protecting the rights of atheist and religious minorities.
 
#2
castlereagh said:
I’ll lay my cards on the table; I am religious believer a Christian to be precise. But I am coming to the conclusion that Britain needs to officially accept that is post religious secularist state, which of course means dis-establishing the Church (ha!) of England.

Reasons for secularism

The vast majority of people are not actually practising Christians. They may be ‘culturally Christian’ and there is no doubt that Britain as does the rest of Europe owe a lot to its Christian heritage and yes there are nods to religious festivals such as Easter and Christmas but the truth is even these festivals have taken on their own non-religious identity.

Social Morals/values – Christianity, whether you like it or not is actually at odds with some of liberal values that we accept as being main stream today.

It makes everything a lot fairer, don’t like the veil, crucifixes in public? simple in a secularist country, you can ban them from the public spheres. Schooling wise withdraw state funding from religious schools means that the majority of children would be taught the same ‘societal values’. Religious schools would of course be free to operate independently.

There can be no such thing as pure secularism but official secularism may actually strengthen the role of religion within the country. The Church of England could actually figure out if it was a Christian church and actually start acting like one. Religion is a powerful force and independence for the Church of England from the state could actually make it a more of an effective force. Also there is also nothing stopping the secularist government with having ties or helping religions to regulate themselves.

The acceptance of Britain as a post religious state would also in my mind help the country culturally and socially to come to terms with its self. It would also end many of the stupid debates that we have about religion today.
Hello Castlereagh,

Whilst I can see the logic behind your reasoning, I can't help but compare it to the current debate over the monarchy, namely that if we got rid of it,then decided it wasn't such a good idea, it would be very hard, near on impossible to 'get it back'.
 
#3
Will be brief... perhaps too brief...

But yes, it should be accepted that, in real terms, the vast majority of the population are secular and have little or no truck with religion.

The idea that this is a 'christian country' is ridiculous.... it was, at one time, but religion has lost its hold over society thankfully. (with the exception of a few - and the obvious ethnic groups and their religions, which they still ardently believe in apparrently)
 
#5
Why would anyone want to chuck away our nations traditions and heratige, It's what we are collectivly, it's what defines us as a nation.

Inividually we are turning into fat useless lazy techno mongs with no sense or thought beyond getting wasted, sitting infront of the telly or fraping off infront of the 'puter.

Were all turning into the same boring ******* watching the same shite programs listening to the same music that is all over the globe, national identity is disapearing, community spirit is all but gone, and there is a lot to be said to believing in the things that made your nation great, and choosing to risk your life for those things.

i would walk into the gates of hell for god, queen and country!
 
#6
Random_Task said:
Hello Castlereagh,

Whilst I can see the logic behind your reasoning, I can't help but compare it to the current debate over the monarchy, namely that if we got rid of it,then decided it wasn't such a good idea, it would be very hard, near on impossible to 'get it back'.
What does the official religiosity offer to the country today? Church jokes, religious participation in state function? Secularism would IMHO actually revitalise Christianity in this country and would in a way makes the country more aware of the debt it owed to religion. For example without Christianity and its role in society there would have been no enlightenment, no development of human rights etc, etc.
 
#7
mark1234 said:
Why would anyone want to chuck away our nations traditions and heratige, It's what we are collectivly, it's what defines us as a nation.

Inividually we are turning into fat useless lazy techno mongs with no sense or thought beyond getting wasted, sitting infront of the telly or fraping off infront of the 'puter.

Were all turning into the same boring ******* watching the same shite programs listening to the same music that is all over the globe, national identity is disapearing, community spirit is all but gone, and there is a lot to be said to believing in the things that made your nation great, and choosing to risk your life for those things.

i would walk into the gates of hell for god, queen and country!
No one is saying that in a secularist country you have to get rid of religious heritage or traditions. The French haven't, the Americans haven't!
 
#8
Who says that the majority are not practising Christians, just because in the past you were supposed to go to church every Sunday etc etc.

Times change and perhaps there is no reason for believers now to attend church in order to be put on the straight and narrow by the flock officer. Perhaps the flock is now intelligent enough to be able to keep itself on the straight and narrow.

This is still a Christian country despite what you say; we don't have to be zealots our pious to be Christian. Our head of State is part of the Christianity and our Government is entwined with it.
 
#9
I for one think it is a great idea.

Can see a couple of problems though, if the state and the church are completely seperated then what happens to the monarchy?

No state cash for any royal crownings/funerals/weddings etc?

Padres in the forces?

It is doable but it would need very careful rules.
 
#10
castlereagh said:
mark1234 said:
Why would anyone want to chuck away our nations traditions and heratige, It's what we are collectivly, it's what defines us as a nation.

Inividually we are turning into fat useless lazy techno mongs with no sense or thought beyond getting wasted, sitting infront of the telly or fraping off infront of the 'puter.

Were all turning into the same boring ******* watching the same shite programs listening to the same music that is all over the globe, national identity is disapearing, community spirit is all but gone, and there is a lot to be said to believing in the things that made your nation great, and choosing to risk your life for those things.

i would walk into the gates of hell for god, queen and country!
No one is saying that in a secularist country you have to get rid of religious heritage or traditions. The French haven't, the Americans haven't!
really, because you appear to be saying the opposite in your first post.
 
#11
castlereagh said:
mark1234 said:
Why would anyone want to chuck away our nations traditions and heratige, It's what we are collectivly, it's what defines us as a nation.

Inividually we are turning into fat useless lazy techno mongs with no sense or thought beyond getting wasted, sitting infront of the telly or fraping off infront of the 'puter.

Were all turning into the same boring ******* watching the same shite programs listening to the same music that is all over the globe, national identity is disapearing, community spirit is all but gone, and there is a lot to be said to believing in the things that made your nation great, and choosing to risk your life for those things.

i would walk into the gates of hell for god, queen and country!
No one is saying that in a secularist country you have to get rid of religious heritage or traditions. The French haven't, the Americans haven't!
I don’t really think the yanks can be considered a secular state, religion is involved at every level of government, and always has been.

Personally I hold no stock in religion at all, and cant understand how others do, which is why I would support removal of religion in any official capacity as part of the country. However, I am also more than aware that others do how religion as important (My entire schooling was Roman Catholic – joy), as such any action would have to be tactful and not seen as brash and an attempt to remove the individuals right to religion.

It would raise problems, especially because in the UK we essentially invented our own religious organisation specifically to give us greater control and to integrate it into the country as an institution of government. Really, I think it is just going to be one of those things that is slowly removed over time, bit by bit. It would be near impossible to achieve otherwise.
 
#12
Well I agree we should be a secular state, if only because it will bring back into everyday usage the longest word in English - antidisestablishmentarianism! Seriously, I'm a secularist myself but disestablishing the CofE could open a huge can of constitutional worms. Perhaps it'll happen anyway if Charles ever does become King and wants to be 'Defender of Faiths' rather than 'Defender of THE Faith'. .
 
#13
Redshaggydog said:
Who says that the majority are not practising Christians, just because in the past you were supposed to go to church every Sunday etc etc.

Times change and perhaps there is no reason for believers now to attend church in order to be put on the straight and narrow by the flock officer. Perhaps the flock is now intelligent enough to be able to keep itself on the straight and narrow.

This is still a Christian country despite what you say; we don't have to be zealots our pious to be Christian. Our head of State is part of the Christianity and our Government is entwined with it.
Roger that.
 
#14
We are steadily secularising and europeanising.

But, having attended my daughter's Harvest festival assembly this morning where we sung overtly Christian songs, the message and ethos was overtly Christian, and as a result the values were clear and unambiguous and something that caused me to walk out with a warm glow, I'm wondering if this opportunity would have been made less possible if we further distance ourselves from this clear and tested credo.
 
#15
as a practising pastarfarian may his knobbly appendeges protect you always :D
don't really care
but if not broke don't fix although muslims might just need to be told once and for all UK is predomentially a christian country ok now settle down and chill out :x
 
#16
Some responses and clarifications

To RSD and Sprjim – You are right that to be a Christian, you do not have to go to church though the epistles do encourage Christians to commune with other Christians. However to be a member of the Church of England, you are actually supposed to go to church. Also I would also say that as a Christian, the bible does expect us to be pious and zealots in our faith but we may have different definitions over the terms.

To Drago – America is actually a constitutionally secularist country, even though it may not act like one at times! Again this one of the reasons why I do actually support secularism as I think it would actually strengthen the role of religion within society as complacency over its role would be removed and debates over values could actually be had. As secularism also asserts the freedom of religion, and freedom from religion, so the right to practice your religion is actually protected.

On the British constitutional front - as I said there is nothing wrong with the state having ties or inviting religious bodies to play a role in national events or roles.
But as I see it the Church of England is actually being damaged by its link to the state and to save the church in the long run, disestablishment may be the best thing for it.

Also to repeat a point I made earlier, secularism may also allow the country as a whole to acknowledge the debt it owes to religion in line to values and tradition.
These values and traditions would not be removed because just because the state was now secular.
 
#17
I hate to say it but we already have become one. Oh the trappings are there, with Lords spiritual in the house, religious calendar raided for holidays for the general population and state and church interwoven.

However the number of practising Christians declines, attendance in churches (Cof E and allied pisky ones) drops and multi-faith events are being big-upped though very few seem to care one way or the other.

If we are a Christian (protestant communion) state, then we need a little less ecumenicism outside the christian faith and a lot more religion in education and development. We now have a generation in school, who are the children of parents, whose own parents were not regular church-goers. The result is that the warp and weft of society is straying from the original Christian alignment. Schools and coleges, Universities and hospitals, parliament and the armed forces all appear to be majority christian institutions. however it is now becoming more of an impression than a real, vibrant and organic flavour.

It saddens me, as I am a church going christian, married to a church going christian and our daughter is being educated in that frame. My eighteen year old son however, who did not grow up with me is god-less. His mother and step-father were violently anti-church on one hand and mocking and cynical of religion on the other. We shall see how he comes along!

At present most people attend church the bare minimum in order to get allowed to marry in the pretty church and have a naming ceremony in the pretty church for their fruits of the loins. Frankly if you put your child forward for baptism without belief, you might as well dip the poor brute in a bucket in your back-garden.

I am starting to believe that we are the new dark continent indeed. I am not upset though because the harder it becomes to bear Christian witness in this country without mockery, discrimination and under threat of law, then perhaps the purer that witness will become. The CofE needs to sort itself out for example, getting its dogma and faith settled and stopping the trimming of tenets of faith, just to avoid upsetting some sexual or religious minority whilst sitting on an estate that could be more influential if it was converted into active capital!
 
#18
actually I think being godless is a really postive move. If as a christian country we'd actually lived up to the commandants then a fair one but we did'nt there was just more hypocaracy about :roll:
I don't need the fear of everlasting damnation to be good or a middle eastern religious figure as an example for my children.
a creator of any universe I'd belive in would have a few more important things to worry about than what growns up get up to in there own bedrooms and with who they do it :twisted:
 
#19
I think we're slightly barking up the wrong tree here. The fact is that Christianity in the mainland UK is NOW a religion of peace and tolerance, hence the very efforts that churchmembers go to to welcome and get along with members of other faiths.

That being said, the various christian churches need to get their acts sorted out and start working together to bring people "back into the fold". By that I do not mean outright conversion, a return to tithing etc, but a more subtle engendering of christian principles - the basis of a moral contract that people should have with each other - eg their own responsibilities in a democratic and free society. The ties that the CofE has as the official religion of the state have served a good purpose - that of ensuring that religion in this country is a force for good.

I do not think that the CofE has done anything that has damaged its position as the official church of the state, and actually serves a useful purpose as a useful moral (albeit christian) reference point for society as a whole.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#20
Square question - difficult answer....

Most of the religion I have came through the Forces....I've been to Church a coupla times this year....and come November 11th I'll keep my head bowed.....so a rough approximation of a Christian then....

I'm inclined to agree with Cuds (Auld Mackerel-Snapper!).....I don't think the majority of people in this country profess Christianity ( and only a tiny proportion of those who do practice it).

So, whether or not the State and the Church of England are indivisible is, in my view, not really relevant.

Britain long ago got past the point of only allowing Christians to die for their country.....and on Remembrance Day my hat will be off to all who laid down their lives - Christian, Jew,Hindu, Muslim, Jain ,buddhist,Quaker, Gnostic,Atheist,Communist , Templar, Jedi, Pastafarian or Wiccan.


I might even spare a thought for the Yanks.....( who, as the Very Rev. Rowan Atkinson tells us, were damned as a race in perpetuity after the Great Architect had a disagreement with one of their Founding Fathers :-D )


Le Chevre

PS...had to laugh (sardonically, for Sawdusty) on Monday....I sat an OU exam on a course called 'Poverty and Development' the very right-on, multifaith, apologist course material for which resolutely ignored the contribution of Christian mission workers throughout the former British Empire and elsewhere.....in a muscularly ornate Methodist chapel sitting at a desk facing a large wooden cross and surrounded by signs exhorting me to 'Glow for Jesus' ........surprisingly, not one of the 200 odd OU students sat with me appeared to be wearing Hijab ( or Yarmulka come to that).....
 

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