Friday, February 04, 2011

Roman Catholic Bishops demand secular state

It is curious, after the visit of Pope Benedict to the UK last year, when he railed against the encroaching ‘aggressive secularism’, that his bishops in Pakistan are demanding precisely that.

According to CathNews India, ‘Church commissions and human rights NGOs in Pakistan have called on the government to allow “freedom of conscience and expression” by curbing increasing extremism in the country’.

It is written in Section 295(C) of the Pakistan Penal Code that the act of insulting the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is punishable by life imprisonment or death. Leaders from the country's ‘religious right’ are determined to retain this penalty, and Allah help any politician who advocates abolition or amendment to the Blasphemy Law: they are likely to suffer the same fate as Punjab Governor Salman Taseer.

Yet the intervention if the Pakistan Catholic Bishops Conference is interesting, for they hardly practise what they preach. They say: “We support the political process without any armed or religious interference. It is imperative to separate religion from state matters.”

It is one thing to urge repeal of a particularly barbaric blasphemy law, as Pope Benedict XVI has done: it is undoubtedly used to terrorise and persecute minorities, and is contrary to fundamental precepts of human rights. But it is quite another to demand the separation of the temporal from the spiritual.

The bishops decry that ‘religious parties are using street power for political gains’, and yet we have all across Europe political parties with an undoubted and undeniable Roman Catholic provenance (‘Christian Democracy’), which are not infrequently influenced by bishops for political gains (‘Social Doctrine’).

The demand of Pakistan's Roman Catholic bishops raises some perfectly reasonable questions, and His Grace is delighted to seek the wisdom and learning of his communicants on the matter.

Is the Pope supreme in ecclesiastical matters only, or does he exert jurisdiction in civil matters?

In church-state relations, which authority is greater? Since man cannot serve two masters, and since both the civil power and the spiritual power exert authority over the same subjects, the two powers cannot be equal. And since it may be argued that the end of man is salvation, and it is observed that the state has no means to order that end, must not the temporal give way to the spiritual?

Many Muslims, of course, will follow this precise reasoning, demanding all the necessary precepts of sharia in the state in order that they, too, may attain their salvation. When there is conflict between the state and sharia, it is quranic virtue and hadithic truth which must prevail.

The King is one of the flock as a member of the Church, and so he must submit to the shepherd, the successor to St Peter.

Salman Taseer is one of the Ummah, the worldwide Islamic brotherhood,and so he must submit to.... ah, there we have a problem. For there is no evident successor to Mohammed (pbuh).

But it is interesting that Roman Catholic bishops should be advocating the secular state, thereby depriving Muslims of their undoubtedly perceived and devoutly believed temporal path to salvation.

In light of the fact that some British Roman Catholics agitate for the repeal (or amendment) of the Act of Settlement, principally because it enshrines the Anglican Settlement in the State Constitution and binds together the Church of England and the Monarchy to the exclusion of their co-religionists, when a Catholic Bishops’ Conference says: ‘It is imperative to separate religion from state matters’, does that only apply to those states in which Roman Catholicism does not constitute the state orthodoxy? Or does the demand apply only to states which are Anglican or Muslim? Or is this a seismic shift in the position of the Roman Catholic Church on the relationship between temporal and spiritual authorities?

Or has this Bishops’ Conference been woefully misrepresented by CathNews India?


Blogger Graham Davis said...

A secular society is the only guarantor of religious freedom. Authentic democracy can only exist within a secular state where the rights of individuals to worship whatever God they please is enshrined in law. However batty I think your beliefs are I will “defend to the death (well perhaps not death) your right to hold them”.

The conflict between religion and secularism occurs when personal beliefs spill over into the public sphere and when you claim special status for behaviour that is driven by what you call conscience but what is simply a means of justifying your actions by claiming that they are sanctioned by God.

The Catholic Church cannot be trusted period! It is a self-serving empire concerned primarily with its own survival. What good it does is overwhelmed by the harm that it continues to cause, primarily as a result of its objection to contraception.

It is of course a tragedy that people are still being killed in the name of religion. Although Christian communities (currently) bear the brunt of these atrocities it is the conviction that when sanctioned by God almost any behaviour is justifiable. The discrimination of homosexuals (that many here support) is simply a lesser extreme but in kind the same as the murder of Christians by Moslems, or Sikhs by Hindus or Moslems by Zionists, they occur because believers see the world only through the distorting lens of their own faith.

4 February 2011 at 10:02  
Blogger The Thirsty Gargoyle said...

Leaving aside the absurd question of whether the Pope exerts jurisdiction in civil matters -- he doesn't -- I don't really see a contradiction here.

When people in Britain use the word 'secularism', they all too often do so as a cloak for, in effect, state-mandated atheism where religion is driven from the public space. They may claim otherwise, but as you well know and have often made clear here, that's at least the effect of their aim.

When the Catholic Church uses the term, nowadays at any rate, it generally does so in the belief that true secularism requires religious freedom, not in the sense that the state should be free from religion, but that the citizenry should be free to practice their religions, whatever they may be. Such, at least, is the teaching of the Second Vatican Council's declaration on religious freedom.

Said document says, that 'Government therefore ought indeed to take account of the religious life of the citizenry and show it favour, since the function of government is to make provision for the common welfare. However, it would clearly transgress the limits set to its power, were it to presume to command or inhibit acts that are religious.'

Religion and politics do not and cannot operate in hermetically sealed bubbles. There is, therefore, an inevitable interplay between the two. As such, the distinction between religion and state matters is a matter of degree, rather than an absolute affair. Of course religious individuals and bodies should have the right to comment on political affairs -- this is simply an expression of their political right and indeed duty to do so. This, however, is a far cry from their manipulating or even dictating political events.

The golden rule, always, is that, allowing for the just demands of public order, one should act in accord with one's conscience. The declaration explores this point in some detail.

It's with this in mind that there is a consistency between what the Pope spoke of in Britain and what the Pakistani bishops of speaking of in Pakistan. In both instances, freedom of conscience is being challenged.

Cardinal O'Brien was, I think, speaking for himself rather than for the Church when he advocated the repeal of the Act of Settlement. It does discriminate against Catholics, but most Catholics don't care about it either way, and it certainly isn't official Church policy in any sense. Indeed, most people I know who are opposed to it are atheists, liberal, and in favour of the wholesale disestablishment of the Church of England. I happen to think that might be a good thing for the Anglican Church, but a rather bad one for the United Kingdom.

4 February 2011 at 10:10  
Anonymous John Thomas said...

Graham Davis, the RCC has its faults but is still the only organization of any size in the world that consistently and comprehensively defends the value and valuing of individual human life - remember, 32m people destroyed by abortion in 2010(no, I'm not RC myself) - certainly no politics or politicians defend life, or do very much humanitarian good; in fact, when a total programme of politics - in which politicians and their ideologies are in control - the individual get totally devalued. Pope or Stalin? I'd go for the pope any day.

4 February 2011 at 10:22  
Blogger Battersea Boy said...

In respect of the Roman Catholics plea for separation of state and religion, perhaps the Vatican City could set an example to the world?

4 February 2011 at 10:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

True secularism in a modern society is not the introduction of a de-facto atheist state. True secularism is plural and diverse in welcoming all people of faith alongside those of no faith in the public domain. All have access on the basis of mutual respect and tolerance.

Contrast this with the misrepresentation of secularism favoured in this country in the pages of the Groaniad or on the website of the NSS (who should have the honesty to rename themselves the National Anti-God Squad!). This form of secularism exhibits clear prejudice against religious people by requiring them to do the impossible ('leave your religion at home') and showing no basic human respect but rather seeking every opportunity to ridicule and vilify religious beliefs. This is the mirror image of the worst excesses of religious extremism.

Give me a respectful pluralism anytime rather than that sort of nasty secularism.

4 February 2011 at 10:38  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Anon (why not give yourself a name) said

This form of secularism exhibits clear prejudice against religious people by requiring them to do the impossible ('leave your religion at home')

The problem with not leaving your religion at home is that it encourages people think that they can discriminate because their belief system sanctions it. Many Muslims would like Sharia because it is part of their belief system, are you happy to accept their right to act in accordance with their “conscience” or perhaps like me you would prefer they leave their religion at home?

4 February 2011 at 10:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace

You wrote:

'And since it may be argued that the end of man is salvation, and it is observed that the state has no means to order that end, must not the temporal give way to the spiritual?'

It is that which is being contested by the Hegelian inspired EU fascist superstate.

4 February 2011 at 11:17  
Anonymous graham wood said...

Cranmer said:

"Is the Pope supreme in ecclesiastical matters only, or does he exert jurisdiction in civil matters?"

The question is not clear.
Is the premise of the Pope having either ecclesiastical or civil power a statement of your belief Cranmer, or a question as to the supposed extent of his claims? You leave the it hanging in the air on what I suggest is a false premise.

For those who take the Christian scriptures as their sole authority The pope is not supreme in either ecclesiastical matters or in civil matters - though a succession of popes arrogantly claim such power.
This is all about the issue of authority, and there is only one in "ecclesiastical" matters which is found in the Person of Christ himself as head of His church, not in any substitute human figure.

The claim of the pope therefore to act in some way as "the vicar of Christ" is, as the C of E Prayer Book rightly states - " a blasphemous fable". It is now, as it has ever been, completely false and without Biblical foundation.
This being so the extent of the pope's claim does not arise.

Scripture is clear on two points here:
1.There is no hierarchical structure allowed in the Church of Christ. (Matthew 20:25,26) - be he pope, priest, or any other claimant.

2. The claim by the pope to represent any other being spiritually or in civil matters is also false.
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (1 Tim.2:5)
No ambiguity there!

Once these basic principles are grasped, only then can the role of the State to that of the Christian church be understood in terms of the relevant discussion in Romans 13.

Perhaps Cranmer you could clarify for your readers whether you accept the Biblical teaching or the assumption that the pope has any jurisdiction in either realm?

4 February 2011 at 11:30  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

I would have thought we have had enough religious turmoil in the history of this country to set us on the right path.

I'm with John Stuart Mill. I don't know if the CofE, the Catholic Church, Islam, Hindusim or whatever has some or all of the truth. If they were honest, even allowing for the Holy Spirit, followers of those religions know they don't know either. Therefore, we have to let people go their own way.

Of course, going their own way in the same society is going to cause conflicts. So, we all need a State, shared values, and a set of laws which allow us to live together as best we can. Secular organisation is surely the only way we have of achieving that, and a set of liberal values is a very good way of reducing the number of two-master dilemmas to a minimum.

4 February 2011 at 13:33  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Anon: "True secularism is plural and diverse in welcoming all people of faith alongside those of no faith in the public domain."

But what does that actually mean? Isn't it merely fluffy with no substance?

We must reach try to reach some sort of consensus when laying out the rules of society.

What consensus is to be had with religious certainty when we have multiple religions and none?

4 February 2011 at 14:12  
Anonymous Voyager said...

1. The Republic and its territories
(1) Pakistan shall be a Federal Republic to be known as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, hereinafter referred to as Pakistan.

2. Islam to be State religion
Islam shall be the State religion of Pakistan.

Islamic Provisions


4 February 2011 at 15:58  
Anonymous Voyager said...

227. Provisions relating to the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah.
(1) All existing laws shall be brought in conformity with the Injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, in this Part referred to as the Injunctions of Islam, and no law shall be enacted which is repugnant to such Injunctions.

[242] [Explanation:- In the application of this clause to the personal law of any Muslim sect, the expression "Quran and Sunnah" shall mean the Quran and Sunnah as interpreted by that sect.]

(2) Effect shall be given to the provisions of clause (1) only in the manner provided in this Part.

(3) Nothing in this Part shall affect the personal laws of non- Muslim citizens or their status as citizens.

The Islamic Council shall consist of such members, being not less than eight and not more than [244] [twenty], as the President may appoint from amongst persons having knowledge of the principles and philosophy of Islam as enunciated in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, or understanding of the economic, political, legal or administrative problems of Pakistan.

Provided that, where a law is referred for advice to the Islamic Council and the Council advises that the law is repugnant to the Injunctions of Islam, the House or, as the case may be, the Provincial Assembly, the President or the Governor shall reconsider the law so made.

4 February 2011 at 16:00  
Anonymous Voyager said...


1. The Republic and its territories
(1) Pakistan shall be a Federal Republic to be known as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, hereinafter referred to as Pakistan.

2. Islam to be State religion
Islam shall be the State religion of Pakistan.

If Britain could have a Written Constitution with the word "Christian" substituted for the word "Islam" I think even Muslims in Britain would be very happy with the result.

4 February 2011 at 16:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the Vatican City State secular.

Do Imams have a right to live freely and vote in the democratic secular State of the Vatican City.

4 February 2011 at 16:42  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

"If Britain could have a Written Constitution with the word "Christian" substituted for the word "Islam" I think even Muslims in Britain would be very happy with the result."

About 96% of the population in Pakistan is Muslim. About 4% or less of the population in the UK is church-going Christian.

I don't suppose the majority of our population worry much about religion when it is the nice, benign, rousing hymn singing, church fete Christianity of mainstream CofE.

However, if it were to become a significant presence, and intrusive, then I think there would be a large pushback.

4 February 2011 at 16:49  
Anonymous Oswin said...

It's no seismic shift, but a pre-execution aberration, Your Grace; a few brave souls who, when offered their final, pre-blndfold cigarette, were bold enough to ask for a cigar.

I'm inclined to agree with Graham Davis on this one; notwithstanding the provisio of the C-OF-E, which ia a clever amalgam of religious and secular rights (mostly!).

Rather than poking a pointy stick into some doctrinal crevise here, we must recognise the now increased, and very real danger, to the lives of these Pakistani Catholics.

4 February 2011 at 16:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Vatican City needs to become more Cosmopolitan, its not Multicultural enough.

How come they have so many churches in Muslim States but not one Mosque in theirs State.

Is the Vatican State a Sovereign State or a dependant, does it loot others for its needs.

4 February 2011 at 16:57  
Anonymous Oswin said...

DanJO @ 16:49

It might be as you say, but that IS the strength of the C-of-E! It is the organic growth of the same, that precludes excess.

To a substantial degree, it meets the needs of all. We might often deride the C-of-E, but it is in truth, a marvel ... a shambling, shambolic nonpareil!

4 February 2011 at 17:14  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Is the Vatican City State secular.

Trying to be provocative makes you simply stupid. Of course The Vatican State as such is secular.

If you weren't stupid and lazy you could look it up for yourself...Vatican City State was founded following the signing of the Lateran Pacts between the Holy See and Italy on February 11th 1929. These were ratified on June 7th 1929. Its nature as a sovereign State distinct from the Holy See is universally recognized under international law...

Vatican City (Listeni /ˈvætɪkən ˈsɪti/) or Vatican City State,[11] officially Stato della Città del Vaticano (pronounced [ˈstaːto della tʃitˈta del vatiˈkaːno]),[12] which translates literally as "State of the City of the Vatican", is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, the capital city of Italy. It has an area of approximately 44 hectares (110 acres), and a population of just over 800.

PAKISTAN land area 796,095 km2 or
307,374 sq mi Population 170.6 million

Maybe you should try harder to READ, COMPREHEND before sounding off in FULL IGNORANCE

4 February 2011 at 17:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading alone is not evidence, is the Vatican a self sufficiently independant State or is it dependant upon others for its needs.

You feeling provoked Voyager is not the issue.

How many of its inhabitants are allowed to pracise other faiths.

4 February 2011 at 18:14  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Voyager @ 17:19

I think you've more or less covered most of the essential points there ... I must remind myself never to offend you too greatly! (tee hee)

4 February 2011 at 18:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I may seem a primate in my understanding voyager but it would be nice to know, when Governments we once thought loyay to our Country are looting it and flooding us with alien hostiles, exactly how does a City State survive the Economic downturn.

What is their GDP.

4 February 2011 at 19:32  
Anonymous len said...

Secular States are as aggressively anti- religious as any of the so called 'Religious' States.
Lets be clear about that!
Communist Regimes in Russia, and China ,N Korea , are they pro Christian?.

Even here in the U K Our Christian heritage is being steadily undermined and freedom restricted.
All that is being done is replacing Religion which has God as a focal point with Secular Humanism( a religion in it own right) which has replaced God with man.

4 February 2011 at 20:18  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Oswin: "To a substantial degree, it meets the needs of all. We might often deride the C-of-E, but it is in truth, a marvel ... a shambling, shambolic nonpareil!"

Well, quite. I was raised CofE and have some affection for it. I rather like the idea of church fetes and eccentric vicars.

It's unfortunate that Islam in the UK has asserted itself, causing some Christians to assert Christianity in response, making me think that a secular state is an absolute requirement now.

As an atheist, I'm alarmed by both religions being asserted and I'm beginning to feel that atheists and agnostics need to assert non-religion more. Of course, this is what we're seeing.

Islam is fairly alien to our way of thinking here but Christianity isn't at all and it has history. As such, I'm a lot more worried by an assertive Christianity to be honest.

4 February 2011 at 20:48  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Your Grace

At 16.54, Oswin said: 'Rather than poking a pointy stick into some doctrinal crevise here, we must recognise the now increased, and very real danger, to the lives of these Pakistani Catholics.' Bingo!

Your Grace will recall Benedict's superb Regensberg Address in 2005 which caused a furore in the Muslim world. Despite their general non-cohesiveness, 139 Muslim clerics wrote to Benedict in complaint. Now, despite the geriatric state of its incumbents, your communicant suspects there is no trace of Alzheimer's in the institutional memory of the Vatican. The 1981 assasination attempt by Turkish sniper Agca on John Paul II would have been front of mind following the Regensberg Address. Thus Benedict would seem very properly concerned for the safety of Catholics of every degree living in Pakistan.

A call for a secular state is simply a device to legitimise the competition of ideas without Islamic apostates suffering execution for their dissent.

It is a pity that Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali is not available to comment, his insight would be invaluable.

4 February 2011 at 21:11  
Anonymous Ares, God of War said...

Your Grace, Bread in the Bone is quite right, how can the Vatican be a "secular" state, when its only religion is Roman Catholic Christianity? How many Bhudists, Jews and Muslims are allowed to worship there? It seems that the catholics are typically hypocritcal- if they want a secular state in Pakistan then fine. But make the Vatican a secular state, where all can practice religious freedom!

A mosque, an Anglican Church or a Bhuddist Temple would go well in the middle of St Peter's Square.

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Papist fools!

4 February 2011 at 21:29  
Anonymous Solomon the Wise said...

First thoughts are: why does anyone take any notice of the pedophile ring that is the vile Roman Catholic Church? They twist the Bible to suggest that Priests should NEVER have sex, which makes the Priesthood into perverts, Child Rapists and much worse. F Them.

Perhaps the Vatican would like to spend its trillions on actually helping the world's poor, rather than hording vast treasures?

Of course the Catholics are two faced in this; wanting a secular state in Pakistan, but decrying the secular state in the UK and Europe, yet also denying secular state status to it own little empire in the Vatican.

What a load of balls. Mind you,if you really think a wafer and wine can become the body and blood of a God... what twisted view do you think will come out of the woodwork?

4 February 2011 at 21:36  
Anonymous Divine Brown said...

Is it just me or is Voyager a silly prick; often Voyager is an atheist, today he is pro- Pedophile.

Is this man just up for a fight or is he a twat?

PS -please don't delete! I want to give this fool a good thrashing!

4 February 2011 at 21:38  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ DanJ0 (20:48)—It’s unfortunate that Islam in the UK has asserted itself

Shouldn’t that be ‘fortunate’? Now that Islam has drawn attention to itself and its doctrines, we are forewarned and can organize to defeat it. Given the Islamic punishment for atheism (death), Messrs DanJ0 and Davis will doubtless lead the charge.

4 February 2011 at 21:57  
Anonymous Darth Benedict said...

I find the lack of faith as displayed by many on this blog, including Bread in Bone, in the one true Church and way to salvation.... disturbing.

May the one true believer, Voyager keep suggesting that the Vatican is secular, just like the USA, France and Vietnam.

As D Singh says democracy is a Judeo-Christian concept. Whilst is why there is bugger all democracy in the Vatican.

Keep up the intellectual thoughts chaps.

4 February 2011 at 22:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is sad to see so much displays of anti-catholic bigotry. But then his Grace is an anti-catholic bigot.

4 February 2011 at 22:40  
Anonymous Truth Seeking Middle Aged Lady said...

Just to sort this out : Voyager thinks the Vatican is a "secular" state; D Singh has said that democracy is Judeo-Christian. So do either of this posters think that the Vatican is

1. Secular
2. A democracy

4 February 2011 at 22:43  
Anonymous Hordak said...

If the Vatican is secular, why is there no Balti house anywhere within its 100 acres? Or an Anglican Church? A Mosque? A Methodist Chapel? A Synagogue?

Oh, but of course! Because the Vatican is the HQ of the Catholic Church! Which was of course agreed to by a Fascist regime way back in the 20s!

Voyager thinks anyone who makes provocative suggestions is stupid. Yet Voyager is the one who looks stupid now.

4 February 2011 at 22:47  
Blogger Owl said...

Democracy had it's roots in Athens and developed slowly throughout the western world.

Christianity had a strong influence on this developement, especially reaction to the abuses of the more extreme pratices.

The reformation in Europe and in the UK allowed Christianity and democracy to move forward. This forward movement was also within the Catholic church which is far broader than just "the Vatican".

The Arab world does not have this cultural background and democracy is poorly understood.

The main choice in Pakistan is between the Army and Islam. Pick the lesser evil.

The Bishop's appeal for a secular government is a stand against Islam.

Currently we now have a three cornered fight, Christianity, Islam and Secular Humanism which would like to set itself up as a religion to replace all others, just with Man as God. Stanton Coit made no pretenses about this and the BHA have followed his lead. Julian Huxley linked it to Fabianism and Eugenics and we know where this is leading.

As democracy is strongly bound to Christian culture and therefore not acceptable to a mainly Islamic population and their dogmatic leadership, I can't see what else the Bishops could suggest to protect Christians in Pakistan.

All this talk about the Vatican city is totally beside the point.

At the moment the Christian side is the least aggresive but I doubt that it will stay that way.

I think HG is perhaps being a bit playful today. This goes far deeper than he cared to openly explore.

4 February 2011 at 23:13  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

YG, why can't Christians cut the c**p and get to the point. We are at war with islam. And until the majority of us acknowledge this fact, the enemy will prevail. Arranging the deckchairs by talking about women priests, or gay clergy is a diversion. The enemy is at the gates and if you don't all confront him, he will sweep you away. The muslim doesn't have any concern for your niceties and delicacies. He wants to conquer. So, for Jesus' sake can you all get on message and give a direction to the general public. Because if you don't then surely God will and He won't forgive you just because you wear 'holy' vestments. If you don't believe in God, or that Jesus is the Son of God, then get out of the way so that the true believers can provide the leadership that many of us so desperately cry out for.

4 February 2011 at 23:30  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ john in cheshire—Even as Islam is battering down the door of Canterbury Cathedral, the bishops will remain adamant that multiculturalism can be made to work and that it’ll be our fault if it fails.

4 February 2011 at 23:55  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Johnny: "Given the Islamic punishment for atheism (death), Messrs DanJ0 and Davis will doubtless lead the charge." [1]

Well, we're certainly advocates if you're talking about a charge towards secularism so that Islam doesn't gain the sort of power which allows that sort of thing, or the Church doesn't regain that sort of power and abuse it again.

The problem with both religions is that they encourage their adherents to extend their influence over non-adherents.

Obviously Sharia presents a problem for most of us in the UK as, unlike English law, the purpose of the laws is explicitly religious and most of us don't follow that religion. But I haven't forgotton Cormac Murphy O'Connor's attempts to nobble the Cabinet.

[1] Compare with the Christianity-oriented Blasphemy laws in Scotland and England, only repealed 2-3 years ago, which at one time led to the death penalty too.

5 February 2011 at 07:15  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Owl: "Stanton Coit made no pretenses about this and the BHA have followed his lead."

You can hardly expect to get away with a clumsy sleight of hand like that.

5 February 2011 at 07:25  
Anonymous Voyager said...

When Hordak gets off his high horse he will learn the difference between The Holy See and The Vatican State.

There is no Balti or Mosque in Whitehall either.

Vatican State is twice the size of Buckingham Palace site with the same population.....800

The sum thereby given to the Holy See was actually less than Italy declared it would pay under the terms of the Law of Guarantees of 1871, by which the Italian government guaranteed to Pope Pius IX and his successors the use of, but not sovereignty over, the Vatican and Lateran Palaces and a yearly income of 3,250,000 lire as indemnity for the loss of sovereignty and territory. The Holy See, on the grounds of the need for clearly manifested independence from any political power in its exercise of spiritual jurisdiction, had refused to accept the settlement offered in 1871, and the Popes thereafter until the signing of the Lateran Treaty considered themselves prisoners in the Vatican, a small, limited area inside Rome.

To commemorate the successful conclusion of the negotiations, Mussolini commissioned the Via della Conciliazione (Road of the Conciliation), which would symbolically link the Vatican City to the heart of Rome.

The Lateran Agreements were incorporated into the Constitution of the Italian Republic in 1947.

In 1984 an agreement was signed, revising the concordat. Among other things, it ended the Church's position as the state-supported religion of Italy, replacing the state financing with a personal income tax called the otto per mille.

5 February 2011 at 07:25  
Anonymous Voyager said...

unlike English law, the purpose of the laws is explicitly religious and most of us don't follow that religion.

No Sharia isn't religious law it is integral to Islam and Dar-al-Islam - it exists wherever Islam exists and is imposed on Non-Muslims wherever Islam is predominant.

English Law imposes itself on people who do NOT believe in it and has no principles beyond State Power or it could not reverse itself so often repeatedly nationalising and de-nationalising the steel industry over 25 years or failing to have any clear policy on EU or banking law

5 February 2011 at 07:34  
Anonymous len said...

Anyone who thinks the Vatican State is secular is seriously deluded.
Just a cursory glance at Catholic history will see that Catholicism(Constantine`s religion, born out of a desire to control by consuming all opposition)is anything but secular.
Catholicism stands as a testimony that compromise will and does corrupt and render worthless the Word of God..

5 February 2011 at 08:24  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Voyager: "English Law imposes itself on people who do NOT believe in it and has no principles beyond State Power"

We're a liberal democracy. Authority and its legitimacy comes from the people as a whole. Law is made with that authority and law is a codified form of our social values, amongst other things. The fact that some people don't accept some laws is neither here nor there really. The second part of your comment above is palpable nonsense.

5 February 2011 at 08:42  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Law is made with that authority and law is a codified form of our social values

Rubbish ! Laws emanate from the European Commission which has sole law-making power and implements into UK Law without debate.

MOST Acts of Parliament are SECONDARY LEGISLATION enacted by Ministers using Order in Council.

DanJ0 has clearly been fed the GCSE Civics Course and has no comprehension of the legal system,. We are not living in a "democracy" the concept is alien.

This country is an overweaning EXECUTIVE unrestrained by any assembly and IMPOSING its Will on a subject people.

Law is made by Judges. There has been NO Divorce Law in England since 1973 and clearly social mores are unchanged since 1973

5 February 2011 at 10:39  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Anyone who thinks the Vatican State is secular is seriously deluded.

Chacun a son gout !

England is not a secular state by your definition, nor is Denmark, nor is the Irish Republic nor is Russia, nor is Serbia, nor is Turkey

5 February 2011 at 10:46  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

There is little wrong with secularism per se; after all it is the institutionalisation of religion that is the major corrupter. You only need to see the influence of kings on the papacy to see this.

Our problem now is similar to HG comment on the Cameron speech where he says...

''Liberalism', rather like 'Conservatism', has come to mean whatever the speaker wants it to mean.'

and indeed so has secularism; or democracy for that matter. People use the words to mean something intrinsically and unquestionably good, and then define it in their own terms.

What is secularism more than the separation of Church and state? Depends on who you ask I suppose. To militant atheists, sorry, secularists it means the relegation of all spiritual and theological thought to the private realm. But then if it didn't work for Stalin then I doubt it would work here. The reason they want this, is because they truly believe that the world would be better off without Christianity; considering that the more one approaches it with an open mind, the more one is drawn to it, it makes sense that to stop people learning about God is the best way to eliminate belief. But I digress...

In this country I have little problem with our integration of Church and State; yes up until Sir Arthur Wellesley it meant the intermittent high and low level persecution of Catholics, but things have changed. The Church of England is a part of our national culture, merely existing ceremonially when it comes to politics. True secularism is valid only in a small government society. The state cares for our safety and the Churches care for our soul; the state does not interfere with people's expression of belief and religion does not interfere with diplomacy. Compare this to our society; we view secularism as the privatisation of faith, something that is the opposite of true secularism, and we have a society where the government sees it as its duty to control our thoughts and beliefs.

Secularism wouldn't work here, but it might in Pakistan, where no one would use it to relegate faith to nought but belief.

5 February 2011 at 12:58  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

The Vatican secular or not argument is a rather ridiculous straw man don't you think. Does it not distract us from the real point?

Let us for a minute suppose that rather than having their own state, the Catholic Church had to reside within another country, as they had to do for many years. Would that not render them more vulnerable to any corrupt influences of their host? If we have learned anything from the pre-reformation era, it is that secular influence on the papacy is a very bad thing.

The Vatican is a state like no other; it exists solely as a seat of leadership for the worlds 1.1-1.5 billion Catholics. Its income comes mainly from donation, supplemented by tourism and investment in real estate. There is no question to its recognition as a state, but its unique status and purpose makes whether it is secular or not void.

Just as a point I ought to make

'About 4% or less of the population in the UK is church-going Christian.' shows this to be 15%, rising to 25% if you include yearly goers. That's rather a lot, espicially when it doesn't include the believers who think they don't have the time.

5 February 2011 at 13:26  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Voyager: "DanJ0 has clearly been fed the GCSE Civics Course and has no comprehension of the legal system,. We are not living in a "democracy" the concept is alien."

I'm a bit older than that. Democracy is a variously defined term but we are undoubtedly living in a democracy even if its processes are not to your taste.

"Rubbish ! Laws emanate from the European Commission which has sole law-making power and implements into UK Law without debate."

Our parliament is sovereign. Our involvement in the European Union is based on treaty. The European Union, even after Lisbon, is a inter-governmental organisation with supra-national aspects.

So, if I can find a single law which did not originate in the European Commission and which was debated in parliament then your assertion collapses. How about the Criminal Justice Act 2003?

5 February 2011 at 13:30  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Hmm depends on what democracy is really. Democracy isn't necessarily good. Our notion of one man one vote would be completely alien to the Greeks, and also to our own nation 200 years ago. Just ask yourself, why is my considered and thought out vote equal to the man who pathologically votes for his party's candidate regardless of his policy? Why is it equal to the man who reacts to what politicians say during a speech, rather than what they do and believe? Why is it equal to the non-informed man who crosses the box of a party rather than a candidate?

FPP is democracy, AV is democracy, PR is democracy, yet none of them work properly, producing career politicians who are more obsessed with public relations than political reasoning.


You're right, both that we live in a democracy, and that Europe has no real power over us, other than that which we grant them. I just debate whether that has any meaning in modern politics.

5 February 2011 at 13:41  
Anonymous len said...

Can Church and State ever be united?
I suppose it depends what you mean by 'Church'.
Catholicism was born out of a desire to control the masses,to unite them under a common 'religion'.Unfortunately (for Christianity) this mean a blending and incorporating of pagan practices and ideas into 'Christianity'.It is not for nothing that Catholicism is called the Universal Church.Constantine liked the Christians because they were passive and posed no threat to him!.
A State Church will inevitably be one that is seriously weakened by compromise and will be unable to comply with the true message of the Gospel because it will offend the secularists and those practising religions other than Biblical Christianity!

The Anglican Movement was born out of (a cynic who say the lust of Henry)but of a prayer by Tyndale who was strangled and burnt at the stake (for the immense crime of translating the bible into English). Tyndale was betrayed by a friend, Philips, the agent either of Henry or of English ecclesiastics, or possibly of both. Tyndale was arrested and imprisoned in the castle of Vilvoorden for over 500 days of horrible conditions. He was tried for heresy and treason in a ridiculously unfair trial, and convicted. Tyndale was then strangled and burnt at the stake in the prison yard, Oct. 6, 1536. His last words were, "Lord, open the king of England's eyes." This prayer was answered three years later, in the publication of King Henry VIII’s 1539 English “Great Bible”.
Tyndale's place in history has not yet been sufficiently recognized as a translator of the Scriptures, as an apostle of liberty, and as a chief promoter of the Reformation in England.

5 February 2011 at 13:42  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Len you're tiresome and you bore me

I should have guessed it would be you who would find a way to weedle in a little sectarianism into a completely unrelated debate. Stick to the point for God's sake. There'll be plenty of opportunities in the future for you to peddle your hate of your Christian brothers for the grand crime of believing in things that are ever so slightly different to you.

5 February 2011 at 13:56  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Lakester91, possibly you're right. But 15% of 55 million in England is 8.25 million. Which is still a lot to muster.

From the CofE:

Approximately 1 million participate each Sunday and 1.7 million each month according to that.

I've been to church at Christmas too every now and again and I'm an atheist.

I would love the census to ask very specific questions instead of allowing self-identification. I used to say I was CofE for years when I wasn't.

A suitable question might be: "Do you believe that there is one creator god who became man about 2000 years ago, was crucified by Romans, arose from the dead, and that the Holy Spirit infuses your very being if you accept that only by the intercession of Jesus, rather than by just good deeds, can you be saved from hell/oblivion (delete as appropriate) on a day of reckoning before god.

That would probably sort the wheat from the chaff, to borrow a suitable phrase.

5 February 2011 at 13:57  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Lakester91: "To militant atheists, sorry, secularists it means the relegation of all spiritual and theological thought to the private realm."

I'm not sure what a militant atheist is. Richard Dawkins is probably one, I suppose. But we atheists aren't usually members of organisations for atheists. We don't tend to rally, although perhaps we should. We're probably not alike. We're just not-theists really. Sort of like not-golfers who aren't interested in golf unless golfers try to take away our football.

But anyway. What you say about secularists applies to me. I think religion should remain in the private sphere. But to me that doesn't mean Christians can't be Christians in public, it just means that Christianity is a bit like golf: a private interest which has no special privilege or creates no special obligations.

5 February 2011 at 14:11  
Anonymous len said...

Lakerster 91, What gives you the 'divine' right to stand on your soap box and spout your twaddle then to the exclusion of others(I though that was what this debate was about?

You bore me with your religion and your incessant pontificating and posturing.

If you indulge in public debate expect to have your feathers ruffles sometimes/often.

5 February 2011 at 16:05  
Anonymous len said...

Lekerster 91, If you want to know what hate is all about have a rummage through the Vatican records (If they will let you!)

5 February 2011 at 16:07  
Anonymous Voyager said...

but we are undoubtedly living in a democracy

You might think so but apart from putting a cross in a box I see no evidence of any accountability or control over political power.

Britain is in fact an oligarchy run for the benefit of same. It has a State Broadcaster funded by legal compulsion for propaganda purposes - and the EU whilst challenging Postal monopolies never pushes for abolition of State Broadcasters inside Europe.

The legal system represents the clique of London Chambers and 84% judges emanate from public schools as most are barristers.

The concentration of influence and power in certain postcodes and certain schools is without parallel in any OECD country.

As for Secular States - only by creating Surrogate Religions can this be maintained. The French Revolution created its own deity as did the USSR and China and Himmler's Germany.

The only people who think Britain is a "democracy" are those pulling the strings

5 February 2011 at 16:15  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

"The only people who think Britain is a "democracy" are those pulling the strings"

And me.

Oh, and the rest of the nearly 30 million people who chose to vote last time too.

5 February 2011 at 16:28  
Blogger Owl said...


"You can hardly expect to get away with a clumsy sleight of hand like that."

No sleight of hand, the information is freely available if you care to check it.

The problem in our democracy is that if you have the choice of three puppets controlled by the same puppet master, you always end up with the same puppet master but you have had your democratic choice of puppets.

5 February 2011 at 17:22  
Blogger Lakester91 said...


Trust you to actually respond; I wonder how you are unable to understand that no one responds to your more bilious posts because, like a stuck record that no one fixes, you have become little more than background noise.

Do you really think that the reason I don't make hateful comments about protestants like yourself is because they're so perfect? No, like nigh on every other poster here I can see that it helps no one and only fosters divisions between brothers. Sola Scriptura isn't biblical, therefore any minor differences in belief we might have will not save or condemn us. We are all orthodox Christians; believing that Mary might or might not have remained a virgin for her entire life makes no difference to our final judgement.

You may think that you're being insightful, that perhaps you are coming up with novel points that haven't been raised before, but sometimes you just come up with naive cliches against people you don't like (be atheists, Catholics or Moslems). You're not being insightful you're being a shit-stirrer (pardon the expression).

'You bore me with your religion and your incessant pontificating and posturing.'

The only way you could identify me as a Catholic is when I defend the Church against moronic simplifications and glaring historical inaccuracies. That is hardly pontification or posturing. You inserted this clause as a witty comeback but it just sounds desperate. You're better than that.

Keep up with the insight into religion and politics, that I welcome fondly (and I have truly learned a decent amount). Just stop with the sectarian nonsense; no one enjoys it.

5 February 2011 at 17:41  
Blogger Lakester91 said...

Owl and DanJ0,

Does it not depend on your definition of democracy (a broad church as His Grace might put it). DanJ0 is technically true, in that we do have a choice, but Owl is also right, in that the three parties we have are so similar, that the choice we have is almost superficial.

I believe that the state should make it so that married couples have tax breaks that are at least on par with cohabitees; who do I vote for?

I believe that equality legislation, although well meaning, is too prone to corruption to be useful; who do I vote for?

I believe that national sovereignty should be maintained, and that we should flout EU regulation when necessary; who do I vote for?

I believe that many secularists are trying to push the majority religion to the fringes and attempting to equate is with this phony community called 'religion'. I believe that law and legislation is not helping matters; who do I vote for?

There might be fringe parties that agree with one or two of these, but they are not viable parties, lacking the funds and public confidence to aggregate votes. None of the three (actually two) viable parties agree with any of these (in practise). So where is the choice?

5 February 2011 at 17:51  
Anonymous non mouse said...

The problem in our democracy is that if you have the choice of three puppets controlled by the same puppet master, you always end up with the same puppet master but you have had your democratic choice of puppets. ... Nicely put, OWL; thank you!

The other problem is, of course, ensuring that nothing compromises the integrity of the ballot itself.

5 February 2011 at 17:58  
Anonymous len said...

Lakester 91,

That sectarian nonsense as you so arrogantly call it gave birth to the Reformation and ended the dark ages.

I will continue to expose your'religion; whenever possible !

Oh` and whilst we are instructing each other how to behave( much to the boredom to the other posters I imagine)keep your posts short.(nobody reads long posts unless they are interesting!.

Bless You .

5 February 2011 at 18:11  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Can someone post that we have a false consciousness, except a few enlightened people, so that my evening is complete? Thanks in advance? :)

5 February 2011 at 18:19  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Dan-Jo @20:48

Yes, I share your worries re' certain 'fundamentalist'Christians;they scare the bejasus out of me too. Which is why I appreciate the mild (?)hypocrisies of the C-of-E, and of their communicants too; be they nominal or otherwise.

However, I feel it behoves us all: the religious, the 'nominally' religious, the atheist, the agnostic, the whatever, to 'play the game' by participating within the relatively civilised, and unifying entity, that is the C-of-E.

Let 'each according to their need' etc.

Fracture, dissonance and polarization serve nothing other than enmity and eventual chaos.

The organic growth, and nature of the C-of-E should ensure, if we ALL
play our minor parts, a wholesome framework for a civilised society.

I cannot believe that God would be overly offended by such.

PRAISE BE to village fetes,
eccentric vicars, flower-arrangments, home-emboidered hassocks, the Women's Institute and 'Jam and Jerusalem' ... for they are simple, and nourishing fare, beyond exception!

So Stuff the extreme, the fundamentalist, and the exotic; they've been tried before, they don't work, they don't suit, and they don't answer!

5 February 2011 at 21:04  
Blogger Owl said...

I humbly take my hat off.

5 February 2011 at 21:16  
Anonymous len said...

Christian fundamentalists !

In these last days we will see the return of the Spirit of Elijah! This is what is needed now, a wild man who does not fit into our world.

...A wild man to pray for a spiritual famine in the hearts of men.
...A wild man to bring fire on men's hearts when they preach.
...A wild man to bring men to the river.
...A wild man to pray for spiritual rain to fall on men.

Our tame world does not have many like John the Baptist, but there are a few. Someone prayed because he does not live in this tame world.

It is not our events that bring repentance; it is a man with the spirit and power of Elijah.

Elijah was a prophet in a time when Israel had turned to the worship of pagan gods. Ahab's wife Jezebel had killed as many prophets of the Lord as she could find, and supported hundreds of prophets of Baal and of the Asheroth. The people had known the God of Israel; they knew their history. But they had adopted the religions of the peoples around them, religions of prosperity and sexuality.

"...How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him..." I Kings 18:21

Jesus warned us that the lukewarm Christians ( the half hearted, ineffectual,token Christians will be spewed out of His ( Jesus`s) mouth like vomit!

In other words these Christians make Jesus sick!.

6 February 2011 at 07:51  
Anonymous Voyager said...

PRAISE BE to village fetes,
eccentric vicars, flower-arrangments, home-emboidered hassocks, the Women's Institute and 'Jam and Jerusalem' ... for they are simple, and nourishing fare, beyond exception!

How Southern England....such a different country from Bradford, Oldham, Burnley.....

6 February 2011 at 08:08  
Anonymous len said...

The ministry of Elijah will be in the warning of impending judgment and the broadcasting of restoration principles to a church starving for truth and thirsting for the power of the Holy Spirit. Elijah will warn the church of its false practices, denounce the false leadership and prophesy the downfall of the false church and false prophets.
He will come and "restore all things." Restoration principles are the apostolic truths and spiritual power that the church has rejected. "He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers." This will not be business as usual. Will the people listen? Many will and it is in this acceptance that more drastic judgments will be averted: "Else I will come, and strike the land with a curse."

Daniel writes that "many shall be purified and made white and tried, but the wicked shall do wickedly and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand."

6 February 2011 at 08:18  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Len @ 07:51

My own view of what you term ''luke-warm Christians'' is that they, when push comes to shove, will be the very people to bash in the brains of the enemy.

If you want 'wild men' you've got them, Len. They might not be the spark, or even the tinder, but as sure as hell, they'll be the kindling and the fuel!

It's best not to confuse the ordinary, the average and the seemingly reasonable, with ''luke-warm'' or 'tepid' ... rather, see them as having something of a head-start on attaining boiling point.

The C-of-E, as with the Curate's egg, is good in parts ... but often the 'less good' parts are at least gracious. We might make Jesus a tad queasy at times, but I doubt he'll chuck-up; not when considering the other restaurants in town!

6 February 2011 at 18:46  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Voyager @ 08:08

I'm a Northumbrian; to me the likes of Bradford, Oldham and Burnley are the effete South! Or were, until they were subsumed by Islam...

6 February 2011 at 18:53  
Anonymous Jan said...

I have never visited this blog, and feel a bit like I have fallen down the rabbit hole. What a fascinating group you are! Having read all the comments, I am sleepy. But before a nap on the crumby table, a little word on the topic, which if I recall was the calling out of Rome for denying Pakistan its religious state. Well, the thesis was that the Pakistani bishops' conference contradicted Rome, who only called for the revocation or amendment of the blasphemy law; and a secondary thesis regards a second contradiction, that Rome reverses itself, calling on one hand for more separation of church and state for muslims, and yet less, in Europe.

The first thesis is false. Although in this case, Rome did only call for a modification of the blasphemy law, Rome usually--with BXVI's relentless commenting on the subject--calls for 'religious freedom,' which is code for secular state. Which muslims detest!

The second is true. That is, Rome does contradict itself, denying islam the religious state, and wishing for it in Europe.

It's so tiresome. And it's getting Catholics killed. A recent conference of bishops in the middle east, last October, noted the incredible increase of violence against Christians in communities where they had co-existed peacefully, but tied it to the Palestine-Israel conflict. I think it is also tied to Benedict's consistent invocation of Vatican II's revisionist position regarding the secular state. Islam is not having it. And it makes Catholics trojan horses for the plague. It puts Catholics in the crosshairs, not for their faith, but for secularism.

I say we follow islam's lead. Let them have religious states where they are in the majority, if they will be tolerant of other faiths (greatly different than religious freedom). Let us have ours where we are in the majority, perhaps a political (not a religious) compromise based on the ten commandments, but firmer on divorce than protestants. (So there.) We, too, would be tolerant of other faiths, so long as they behaved.

If it is true that islam wants the religious state because they have not yet swallowed the koolaid that church and state can possibly be separate things and yet give at the same time a sufficiently coherent message to provide a relatively predictable, relatively safe environment for human beings to engineer their salvation, then don't we want that, too? I think it is high time we recognized that. One commenter here said if Britain had the ten commandments, wouldn't muslims be happier. I think that is true. And I think Christians could live better under sharia law than under secular. I am going to visit Malaysia soon, to investigate the world in Kelantam, the most islamic state there. My friend just sent me a link that made fun of the 'morals police' there, who the link said planned to raid some known make-out spots on --Valentine's day! Now, my friend was highly amused. But this friend conducted an affair the entire time we worked together. His mind was never on his students , I know because I had reason to know, and he hurt his wife terribly when it became known. He has since returned to the Church, and joined Sex Addicts Anonymous and so forth and so on. And I had to think, reading his amused comment on the stupidity of people who have morals police, how much pain, how much ripping off of the taxpayer for his salary all those years, would have been saved if we'd just had a little morals police where we worked. But what can you say?
Yes, Rome is a muddle right now, because of Vatican II. Traditional Catholics are trying to get it straight. I don't know any other traditional Catholics who think as I do, I should point out. We'll smarten up about the thousandth time the Republican party in the US lets us down again regarding abortion or homosexuality or marriage or divorce or euthanasia or the economy. (Did you know that Kelantan went to gold/silver backed money? Because that's the quoranic way? I'm supposed to hate them for that, right?)

10 February 2011 at 01:56  
Anonymous Kevin Monk said...

For a moment there I thought you'd found a picture of Milton Friedman dressed as a bishop.

1 March 2011 at 23:31  

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