The emergence of the Conservative Humanist Association
Yet Jonathan Isaby of The Telegraph refers to the Conservative Humanist Society as ‘a potentially controversial new faction’.
All that he adduces to support this is their invitation to ‘the leader of the Atheist Opus Dei’ Professor Richard Dawkins, who has agreed to officially launch the group at the Conservative Party's conference in the autumn. But this is simply a logical consequence of the natural Protestant progression which began when the Church of England ceased being the Conservative Party at prayer. That great schism occurred during the reign of Margaret Thatcher, during which era one or two meddlesome priests went further than swimming the Tiber; they came out as Socialists.
But the Conservative Humanist Association is controversial for a number of other reasons. Its intolerance of the public role of religion in society is itself the very sort of extremism the Conservative Party ought to eschew if it is to remain a broad church. They assert that 'politics and religion do not mix', and point to Northern Ireland, the Middle East and the Balkans as 'very tangible proof'. Have they not considered the appalling consequences of humanism and atheism in a number of other nations throughout history? Militant secularism is an inviolable political creed and atheism itself seeks to propagate an absolutist worldview and infallible doctrine as repugnant as any it seeks to repudiate.
If religion is bad and God does not exist, the Conservative Humanist Party must oppose a very great deal of what Conservatism is supposed to conserve. Indeed, they refer to the Christian 'strangle-hold on our institutions of state'. Whilst one may legitimately question the relevance of the Established Church, or express concern over the discrimination inherent in having 26 bishops sitting in the House of Lords, this settlement is woven into the fabric of Parliament and is foundational to its functioning. But the Conservative Humanists must be opposed to the position of the Monarch as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and thereby they seek to undermine the role of Christianity in the public sphere. At a superficial level they require that British coinage be reformed to eliminate ‘D G REG F D’, but at a much deeper level they seek to abolish all faith schools.
This is not only totalitarian; it is fundamentally anti-Conservative. By removing the individual right of parents to educate their children as they wish, they undermine their profession of Conservatism with the imposition of a bland Soviet conformity to their arid worldview. A liberal democracy ceases to be liberal when it attempts to prevent the passing on of those very foundations by virtue of which it has developed. The liberal state is obliged to listen if it is not to turn secularism into another tyranny. Liberalism Conservatism accommodates the Established Church and the public role of religion: indeed, disestablishment and the diminution of the role of Christianity are more likely to permit an absolutist ‘humanist’ liberalism to emerge which would be just as monolithic as the days when the church was sovereign.