My Member of Parliament is a Liberal Democrat. Their new party leader, Nick Clegg, when asked whether he believed in God, said "No". I took the opportunity to write to both of them, identifying my desire for religious bias to be removed from government, law, and organisations supported by taxes.
Dear Nick Clegg and Andrew Stunell
(I am sending this letter to my MP and to the party-leader of my MP).
Nick Clegg responded to the question "do you believe in God" with "no". I commend him for openness. It is a sad commentary that this resulted in so much media commentary, and that few other MPs have been so open when it is clear that Nick Clegg is one among many.
I am an atheist, and I feel that it is time to react against the UK's "official" (but nonsensical) position of being a religious, specifically Christian, specifically Church of England, nation.
I want all religious bias to be removed from Government and Law:
- My main desire is disestablishment of the Church of England, and the removal of their automatic right to have many bishops in the Upper Chamber giving a religion (any religion) privileged influence on the legislative process.
- I want to see the removal from law of any protection for religious belief. The obvious case is Blasphemy law. This law now has little effect in practice but has symbolic effect, and removal of such laws would establish a more satisfactory relationship between citizens and the state, and neutralise complaints from other religions.
I want all religious bias to be removed from organisations funded by taxes:
- Obviously, the main such case is state-funding for faith-schools. I believe that these are a massive mistake that will haunt many of us, who care about a coherent integrated UK, for a long time. We are in a hole, and first we should stop digging, then we should try to identify how to reverse the divisiveness.
- But if religion in any form is to be taught in schools, atheism/humanism must be given equal time and quality of teaching. Observation of some regional syllabuses demonstrates that this is not currently the case, and there is actually no compulsion in law.
In practise, I believe the French approach of providing education in good civic behaviour without tying this to religion (which obviously doesn't have a monopoly of good behaviour) is better.