Features

In defence of Christianity

Despite a tidal wave of prejudice and negativity, faith remains the foundation of our civilisation

4 April 2015

9:00 AM

4 April 2015

9:00 AM

Jeremy Paxman was on great form last week, reminding us that when it comes to being rude to prime ministers he has no peers.

Jeremy’s rudeness is, of course, magnificently bipartisan. However elegant the sneer he displayed when asking David Cameron about Stephen Green, it was as nothing compared to the pointed disdain with which he once asked Tony Blair about his faith. Was it true, Jeremy inquired, that he had prayed together with his fellow Christian George W. Bush?

The question was asked in a tone of Old Malvernian hauteur which implied that spending time in religious contemplation was clearly deviant behaviour of the most disgusting kind. Jeremy seemed to be suggesting that it would probably be less scandalous if we discovered the two men had sought relief from the pressures of high office by smoking crack together.

Praying? What kind of people are you?

Well, the kind of people who built our civilisation, founded our democracies, developed our modern ideas of rights and justice, ended slavery, established universal education and who are, even as I write, in the forefront of the fight against poverty, prejudice and ignorance. In a word, Christians.

But to call yourself a Christian in contemporary Britain is to invite pity, condescension or cool dismissal. In a culture that prizes sophistication, non-judgmentalism, irony and detachment, it is to declare yourself intolerant, naive, superstitious and backward.

It was almost 150 years ago that Matthew Arnold wrote of the Sea of Faith’s ‘melancholy, long, withdrawing roar’ and in our time that current has been replaced by an incoming tide of negativity towards Christianity.

In his wonderful book Unapologetic, the author Francis Spufford describes the welter of prejudice the admission of Christian belief tends to unleash. ‘It means that we believe in a load of bronze-age absurdities. It means that we don’t believe in dinosaurs. It means that we’re dogmatic. That we’re self-righteous. That we fetishise pain and suffering. That we advocate wishy-washy niceness. That we promise the oppressed pie in the sky when they die… That we build absurdly complex intellectual structures, full of meaningless distinctions, on the marshmallow foundations of fantasy… That we destroy the spontaneity and hopefulness of children by implanting a sick mythology in young minds…’

And that’s just for starters. If we’re Roman Catholic we’re accessories to child abuse, if we’re Anglo-Catholics we’re homophobic bigots curiously attached to velvet and lace, if we’re liberal Anglicans we’re pointless hand-wringing conscience–hawkers, and if we’re evangelicals we’re creepy obsessives who are uncomfortable with anyone enjoying anything more louche than a slice of Battenberg.

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Even in the area where Christianity might be supposed to be vaguely relevant — moral reasoning — it’s casually assumed that Christian belief is an actively disabling factor. When Paxo asked Blair about his praying habits he prefaced his question by suggesting that the Prime Minister and the President found it easier to go to war in Iraq because their Christianity made them see everything narrowly in terms of good and evil, black and white, them and us.

Far from enlarging someone’s sympathy or providing a frame for ethical reflection, Christianity is seen as a mind-narrowing doctrine. Where once politicians who were considering matters of life and death might have been thought to be helped in their decision-making by Christian thinking — by reflecting on the tradition of Augustine and Aquinas, by applying the subtle tests of just-war doctrine — now Christianity means the banal morality of the fairy tale and genuflection before a sky pixie’s simplicities.

How has it come to this?

The contrast between the Christianity I see our culture belittle nightly, and the Christianity I see our country benefit from daily, could not be greater.

The reality of Christian mission in today’s churches is a story of thousands of quiet kindnesses. In many of our most disadvantaged communities it is the churches that provide warmth, food, friendship and support for individuals who have fallen on the worst of times. The homeless, those in the grip of alcoholism or drug addiction, individuals with undiagnosed mental health problems and those overwhelmed by multiple crises are all helped — in innumerable ways — by Christians.

Churches provide debt counselling, marriage guidance, childcare, English language lessons, after-school clubs, food banks, emergency accommodation and, sometimes most importantly of all, someone to listen. The lives of most clergy and the thoughts of most churchgoers are not occupied with agonising over sexual morality but with helping others in practical ways — in proving their commitment to Christ through service to others.

But Christian charity — far from being applauded — is seen by many as somehow suspect. Again and again, as a politician, I have found that when people who were open and proud of their Christian faith wished to help others — in education, in social work, in prisons and in hospices — their belief was somehow seen as an ignoble ulterior motive sullying their actions. Their charity would somehow be nobler and more selfless if it weren’t actuated by religion.

The suspicion was that Christians helped others because they wanted to look good in the eyes of their deity and earn the religious equivalent of Clubcard points securing entry to Heaven. Or they interfered in the lives of the less fortunate because they were moral imperialists — getting off on the thrill and power of controlling someone else’s life and impulses. Or, most disturbingly of all, they were looking to recruit individuals — especially in our schools — to affirm the arid simplicities and narrow certainties of their faith.

This prejudice that Christian belief demeans the integrity of an action is remarkably pervasive. And on occasion singularly vehement.

One of the saddest moments during my time as Education Secretary was the day I took a call from a wonderfully generous philanthropist who had devoted limitless time and money to helping educate disadvantaged children in some of the most challenging areas of Britain but who now felt he had no option but to step away from his commitments because his evangelical Christianity meant that he, and his generosity, were under constant attack.

I suspect that one of the reasons why any suggestion of religious belief — let alone motivation — on the part of people in public life excites suspicion and antipathy is the assumption that those with faith consider their acts somehow sanctified and superior compared with others.

Relativism is the orthodoxy of our age. Asserting that any one set of beliefs is more deserving of respect than any other is a sin against the Holy Spirit of Non–Judgmentalism. And proclaiming your adherence to the faith which generations of dead white males used to cow and coerce others is particularly problematic. You stand in the tradition of the Inquisition, the Counter-Reformation, the Jesuits who made South America safe for colonisation, the missionaries who accompanied the imperial exploiters into Africa, the Christian Brothers who presided over forced adoption and the televangelists who keep America safe for capitalism.

But genuine Christian faith — far from making any individual more invincibly convinced of their own righteousness — makes us realise just how flawed and fallible we all are. I am selfish, lazy, greedy, hypocritical, confused, self-deceiving, impatient and weak. And that’s just on a good day. As the Book of Common Prayer puts it, ‘We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts…And there is no health in us.’

Christianity helps us recognise and confront those weaknesses with a resolution — albeit imperfect and fragile — to do better. But more importantly, it encourages us to feel a sense of empathy rather than superiority towards others because we recognise that we are as guilty of selfishness and open to temptation as anyone.

More than that, Christianity encourages us to see that, while all of us are prey to weakness, there is a potential for good in everyone. Every individual is precious. Christianity encourages us to look beyond tribe and tradition to celebrate our common humanity. And at every stage in human history when tyrants and dictators have attempted to set individuals against one another, it has been Christians who have shielded the vulnerable from oppression. It was Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Christian-inspired White Rose movement that led the internal opposition to Hitler’s rule. It was the moral witness of the Catholic church in Poland that helped erode Communism’s authority in the 1980s.

In his magnificent book Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism, the Oxford academic Larry Siedentop shows how it has been the Christian conception of God which has given rise to the respect for individual conscience, rights and autonomy which underpin our civilisation.

In pre-Christian times, moral reasoning and full human potential were assumed to be restricted to an elite. Greek city states depended on a population of helots, the Roman Empire on the subjugation of slaves and barbarians, to sustain their rule. Their achievements were built on a foundation of radical inequality. Christianity, by contrast, like Judaism before it, gives every individual the dignity of a soul, the capacity to reason, the right to be heard and equality before the law. Because every individual is — in the image of God — capable of moral judgment, reflection and responsibility.

Belief in the unique and valuable nature of every individual should make us angry at oppression, at the racism which divides and the prejudice which demeans humanity. And it was deep, radical Christian faith which inspired many of our greatest political heroes — Wilberforce, Shaftesbury, Lincoln, Gladstone, Pope John Paul II and Martin Luther King. There should be nothing to be ashamed of in finding their example inspirational, the words and beliefs that moved them beautiful and true.

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Show comments
  • GraveDave

    The homeless, those in the grip of alcoholism or drug addiction, individuals with undiagnosed mental health problems and those overwhelmed by multiple crises are all helped — in innumerable ways — by Christians.

    Which have all got worse under the so called Tory led coalition.
    No wonder you want to keep them on your side.

    • ilPugliese

      I assume Christians have jobs and do their bit, but what does that have to do with Christianity?

  • JDale

    You’ve nailed what I think of you Michael (and thus admitted why you were always such a supporter of those Christian factories that you like to call “faith” schools). Well done. Piss poor effort at defending your position though.

  • mine

    It’s not Christianity that needs defenders. It has many powerful protectors, including politicians, the law and of course the Queen. Let us not forget it’s massive war chest of wealth in its coffers and those of its patrons, or perhaps this is what most concerns you.
    What needs defending are the values of the Christ figure. I have yet to see the likes of Mr Gove or any other born again defender of the faith actually espouse theses values in their actions.
    Values such as love thy neighbour, look after the poor, heal the sick and feed the starving where ever they may come from.
    I’m sorry Mr Gove you are defending the wrong people yet again , but nice attempt to once again hijack the values of decent humanity for your establishment gang to justify it’s grip on privilege.

  • Joe Long

    Where was the Church of England when our girls were being raped en masse in Rotherham and so many other towns and cities? in the case of the Bishop of Sheffield hand wringing and latterly paying court at a Pakistani welfare centre

    I despise this gutless, chinless, quiche munching, open-toed sandal crew with the weird, unearthly, “spiritual” glint in their eyes.

    • SimonToo

      Indeed. And where were you?

    • Coastliner

      Excellent post – well said.

    • freddiethegreat

      “I despise this gutless, chinless, quiche munching, open-toed sandal crew with the weird, unearthly, “spiritual” glint in their eyes” I know thousands of Christians, including Anglicans. Not one is even close to this description. A caricature, perhaps? Like “all agnostics are violent and eat raw meat”???

      • Joe Long

        Well name one Churchman who spoke out then

    • Arthur Rusdell-Wilson

      So, the tide of negativity rolls on. Quelle surprise.

    • Always_Worth_Saying

      This was covered up by the liberal elite in London. Plenty of Christians and non Christians complained about it for years while being shouted down by ‘liberals’.

      • Joe Long

        Well that simply isn’t true, it was covered up mainly in the grooming heartlands of West and South Yorkshire and East Lancashire.

        One example of a C of E bishop, dean, vicar who spoke out about the epidemic rape, torture, trafficking, pimping? Just one will do.

        There are tens of thousands of victims, and when one takes account of family too that needs to be multiplied by a factor of 4 or 5

    • Peter Stroud

      No, where were the police? Where were the social workers?

    • Kat

      What a great job you’re doing of proving Gove right!

      • Joe Long

        if the cap fits, wear it

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Where indeed.

  • freddiethegreat

    “The suspicion was that Christians helped others because they wanted to look good in the eyes of their deity and earn the religious equivalent of Clubcard points securing entry to Heaven.”
    As usual, 100% misunderstanding. Do muslims get to heaven by eating pork? or Hindus by eating cows? Do all atheists do yoga to get closer to their deity?

    • Jafe

      “Do all atheists do yoga to get closer to their deity?”

      you miss the point somewhat

  • http://www.twitter.com/jmedwards Jamie Edwards

    Most of the things Gove discusses in this article preceded and are by no means exclusive to Christianity.

    • Richard Baranov

      And how is your remark relevant? I could give you an almost never ending list, indeed it would fill hundreds of pages, of practices that are not exclusive to any religion, all of them borrow or are inspired by what precedes them or are inspired by contact with other religions and cultures. Most practices concerning almost all religions are not exclusive but the central core of what they believe usually is exclusive to that religion otherwise it would hardly inspire. An artist or scientist builds on what has come before, so what! Does it in some odd way render that artist or scientists discovery invalid?. That things are not “exclusive” does not in anyway render a particular belief or practice irrelevant. Your observation is a banality and like most banalities, pointless.

      • http://www.twitter.com/jmedwards Jamie Edwards

        Because in by doing so, Gove is faliciously elevating Christianity and “the mission of Christianity” to some kind of be all and end all of human kindness and ability to be conduct ourselves in civilised society, falsely propagating the myth that without it we’d all be murdering each other, or that without it we would have less “debt counselling, marriage guidance, childcare… [etc]” and we wouldn’t each be blessed with “the capacity to reason”.

        • Richard Baranov

          No he is not, all he is doing is pointing out a fact, that within the context of Western civilization it is Christianity that counts. Frankly, it is idle to pretend otherwise and, as a non-Christian sane enough to see that Christianity is absolutely pivotal to this civilization, I would like to know what you and others propose replace it? Now, I’m not asking about the could be’s, the maybe’s, or perhaps’es. We have all heard that clap trap about we will all be better of as atheists and all the other pie in the sky observations. However, the existential situation, to use an expression, cuts no ice with that argument. So what are you going to defend Western civilization with, reason? Because I can assure you that with Islam and other dangers such nonsense cuts no ice at all, e.g. 40% of British Muslims want Sharia. Reason with that sort of thinking and see how far you get!

          • ilPugliese

            It usually comes out. We need Christianity because of the threat from Islam! Like the communists, Christians hide in waiting for an opportunity to make a comeback.

          • Richard Baranov

            As I pointed out, I am not a Christian. I am asking a reasonable question. How do you combat a religion such as Islam or, if you like Communism, with rationality or any of the other liberal fetishes? As far as I’m aware non of them work very well at all. And, as I have pointed out before, I grew up under Islam. Only the naïve think it is not a threat.

          • ilPugliese

            It is definitely a threat, but “faith” enjoys a privileged position in our society, even though many adherents ignore the human right to choose your own faith, or none. I don’t think my views on how to combat it are of much import.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            So we counter barbaric medievalism by being slightly less barbaric and medieval, rather than sticking to secular, modern, scientific rationalism. Islam is raging against the machine, literally. Islam has failed to modernise as it has never had a Reformation.
            There is a place for Christianity, and yes it is a strong part of our western culture. It has given us great architecture, great music, great art and great thought.However, we cannot cleave to it as our sole prop against the barbaric and the backward, mainly because so much of it is backward itself.

          • SparklingMoon,

            Islam has failed to modernise as it has never had a Reformation.
            ******************************************************
            In a prophecy the Prophet of Islam(sa),has told that as had happened with all previous religions,a time would come when the state of Muslims would become ruined and corrupted. The Muslim scholars would spread false doctrines and ideologies and there would be great division and conflict within the Muslim world. Whilst the Holy Quran would remain preserved in its original state, false commentaries and interpretations would be made which would lead Muslims away from its true teachings. According to the prophecy, when such a desperate state of affairs came to pass, God Almighty would send a person as the Promised Messiah to rejuvenate Islam. He would clarify the correct meanings of the Quran and would inform the world of the true Islam practiced by the Holy Prophet (sa) and his rightly guided successors 1400 years before. The Promised Messiah would guide the world towards living together in love, peace and harmony and would foster a spirit of mutual understanding and reconciliation. Furthermore, the Promised Messiah would bring an end to all forms of religious warfare.The Promised Messiah who had appeared in the middle of eighteenth century according to the prophecies of previous Prophets.

        • tompiper

          “Faliciously”? What the hell is that?

          • http://www.twitter.com/jmedwards Jamie Edwards

            a typo

          • Jack

            Oh his whole point is in bits now….tompiper down, you absolute child.

      • Jack

        “Does it in some odd way render that artist or scientists discovery invalid?” – He isn’t suggesting that it does. Nowhere does he say that Christian values are invalid, he just suggests that ‘pushing’ Christianity based on these values is rather arbitrary. You always take so long to understand what people are actually saying, you quite often seem to just give up and assign them claims that have little to do with what they said.

    • la catholic state

      Sorry….but many things are exclusive to Christianity. Chief among them being that God became Man, died for our sins, rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and will judge us. If this is found in earlier pagan religions…it is intuition of what was to happen.

      • http://www.twitter.com/jmedwards Jamie Edwards

        To clarify; by “most of the things”, I am talking about human and societal traits: kindness, civility, charity, etc. They exist with our without Christianity (or any religion).

        • la catholic state

          These virtues exist….alongside great evil. Christ demands we lessen evil and increase good. Of course many pagans truth seekers concluded the same thing….but their views carried no more weight than those who held the opposite view. Christ being God seals the deal as it were.

          • NHares

            God the Father was also prone to a rather worrying number – for a ‘perfect’ deity – of the more unpleasant societal traits: jealousy (Exodus 20:5); vengefulness (Hebrews 10:30-31); caprice and vanity (Genesis 22); I could go on. Accepted that these are Old Testament quotes, but the Old Testament is a part of the ‘Christian’ teaching of most denominations.

          • la catholic state

            Sure….but aren’t these normal and good responses in certain circumstances. It would be a strange and cold wife who wasn’t jealous of a straying husband.

          • NHares

            But a rather psychopathic wife who then resorts to murder or genocide to avenge herself; and I don’t really see that capriciousness and vanity are particularly edifying traits under any circumstance – in fact they are particularly sinister traits for a perfect god who supposedly loves his ‘children’ and for whose vices he must surely be responsible, given that he is both omniscient and omnipotent.

          • la catholic state

            God is the giver and taker of all life. It all belongs to Him. And if God were sinister….I wouldn’t love him. In fact…Id say He’s a lot more loving than you. That’s my opinion…..and Im sticking with it in the light of all evidence.

          • Jack

            Most people, including I, demand that we promote good and lesson evil, and I am not a Christian, not by any means. I have a lot of moral sympathy with Aristotle, who is essentially the inspiration behind much of Christian and European ethics, but I have no truck with Christianity, other than seeing that we owe to it as much as we owe the steam engine in giving us a push forward. Christ wasn’t God, and dismissing everyone who came to the same conclusions as Jesus as of unequal worth is pretty arbitrary, childish and conceited, don’t you think?

          • la catholic state

            It depends on what your definition of good is. Quite frankly anyone can dress evil up as good…and they do.
            Christ was God…and everyone will proclaim in on the Last Day. So says the Holy Bible. And remember….nobody is forced into Heaven.

          • Jack

            Well yes, anyone can dress up good as evil and vice versa. This makes it rather nonsensical to think that Christians or anyone else for that matter somehow have monopoly on knowledge of ‘the good’. Are atheistic people who have identical ethics to Jesus still not quite getting it right because they aren’t Christians?

            So says the Bible? Doesn’t mention him in the Gita, or any of the Vedas, doesn’t say he’s God in the Koran. Why is the Bible so special, being as it is the work of man, edited and cobbled together over centuries, at the whim of exploitation and amendment?

          • la catholic state

            Why is it?! I don’t know any atheists who have identical ethics to Jesus.
            The Holy Bible is so special….as it is God’s word not man’s. It is also the greatest book ever written…the world’s best seller….and it will outlive ever person ever to be born..

          • Jack

            “I don’t know any atheists who have identical ethics to Jesus. ” – I’ll repeat myself. Are atheistic people who have identical ethics to Jesus still not quite getting it right because they aren’t Christians?

            Why is it that everyone of religious orientation thinks THEIR book, despite it being created for the same purposes as other religious texts, is THE correct book? Why is the Bible the word of God while the Koran isn’t, when adherents to both religions swear blindly that theirs is pukka? Genuine question.

          • la catholic state

            If such people exist…..they are good. But they lack Faith. Do they want to go to Heaven to be with Christ in whom they don’t believe for eternity?!

          • Jack

            So without faith they are doomed the hell? Then what of pre-Christian society? Or sick children who died before they could ‘receive’ Christ? Do they go to hell as well? There is no indication that we have ever, until now, broken from a completely unjustified egocentric view of the universe, so why do you choose to believe the logic of people born 2000 years ago regarding our special place in the universe? If your answer is ‘because Jesus is God’, who said he was? Him? So do loads of people through history, and we tend to lock them up, despite their persistent good following.

          • la catholic state

            No. Faith hope and love….and the greatest of these is love. If we love God…then we have a good chance of entering Heaven.
            It’s not the logic of a people 2000 years old. It’s the logic of Christ….God Himself. Christ intimated His Divinity and the Trinity at the same time. And yeah….He was put to death for it. You are free not to believe. But you must accept the consequences.

          • Jack

            What if a child dies before having any real conception of God, let alone love for him? Do they go to hell then? You do realise this rather circular pattern of reasoning that is totally contrary to the ‘reason’ that Christians seem to think is a Christian virtue, rather than something cultivated by humans for millennia? There will be no consequences other than those that face you, and everyone. Heaven is the result of the human mind being unable to comprehend it’s own end, and so fudging things and making them fit no matter the sparsity of evidence. I mean, all this “it is true because Jesus said so, and he said he is God therefore he must be God cos everything God says is true” is just a bit sad. I don’t mind people doing what they can to get through their short time in the sun, but they really shouldn’t force others, who have the capacity for reason, to endure this kind of petty, childish absolutism.

          • la catholic state

            Heaven we are told is full of children. To such as children the Kingdom of Heaven belongs Christ said. Whoever becomes like a child shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven said Christ. If you don’t like kids….I don’t think you will like Heaven.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            “So isn’t Heaven getting crowded?”
            Books of so-called holy text are so stupid and deluded that even a child can see through them.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Limbo: St. Augustine’s cruel and stupid solution to a non-existant problem.

          • SparklingMoon,

            “it is true because Jesus said so, and he said he is God therefore he must be God
            *******************************************
            Jesus was the last prophet in Israel. always referred to himself as having been sent by God, meaning that he was a Divine messenger. For instance: ”This is Eternal Life: to know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”(John 17:3)

            It was long after his time that the expression son of God was transmuted into God, the Son, meaning thereby that Jesus was the second person in the Trinity. The entire concept of the Trinity was foreign to the thinking of Jesus.

            It is true that in Luke 1:32, he is called the son of the Highest and in 1:35, the son of God; but these expressions in Biblical idiom do not at all connote Divinity or partnership in Divinity. These expressions were in common use in scripture but were always employed metaphorically and in no single instance did it connote God. As we read in the Bible: Israel is My son, even My first born. (Exodus 4:22) Also I will make him (David) Myfirst born, higher than the kings of the earth. (Psalms 89:27) He (Solomon) shall be My son, and I will be his Father. (1. Chron 22:10) Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. (Matt. 5:9)

          • Jack

            In any case, we have wandered far from the salient points. You think that by re-embracing Christianity, the country will become more culturally, artistically and scientifically successful, for want of a better word? What then do you say of cultures that produce a great deal of art and science, or have done in the past, but that do not buy into Christianity? The renaissance was based on Greek and Roman culture and theology, particularly Aristotelian ethics. Did the Greeks and Romans fail to produce any art or culture due to a lack of Christianity? Please answer.

          • la catholic state

            Nobody surpassed Christians. We surpassed the Greeks and Romans in breath, output, diversity, richness and depth. Sorry Greeks and Romans…but we did.
            THe Renaissance was Christian. The greatest art has a Christian theme. As for our Medieval Cathedrals…nothing surpasses them.

          • Jack

            I’m sure the Egyptians said the same of the Pyramids at the time. As did the Romans of their monuments. I disagree that nobody surpassed Christians; you just happen to like them more. But then you don’t seem to be able to see beyond that preference.

          • la catholic state

            I think…..an objective view would say the same as I….that nothing has surpassed the brilliance of Christian cultural achievement. But honesty in this field is rare….and people are guided by their hatred of Christ instead.

          • Jack

            You’re wrong then. It is a matter of taste and plenty of people prefer Islamic architecture. Look at Muslim Spain; spectacular, and fair to deem superior if you think so.

          • la catholic state

            Islamic art is repetitive and very limited in its scope. Nobody outdoes Christians on anything.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            Not hatred. Just doubt and contempt.

          • SparklingMoon,

            Why is the Bible the word of God while the Koran isn’t, when adherents to both religions swear blindly that theirs is pukka?
            **********************************************
            Firstly, The revelation of the Quran has this claim in its descriptions that it is a final and complete law of Guidance for whole mankind. The duration time between Prophet Adam to prophet of Islam is about four thousand years. All other existed revelations have no claim of universality in their message but they address only to a particular people or nation.

            Secondly the message of the Quran has a complete Law of guidance.All important teachings of previous revelations (in their original form) with some new teachings had been assembled in the Quran and it was informed by God Almighty to all mankind: ”This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favors upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion.”(5:4)

            As it is a Final Law for mankind therefore He had promised to safeguard the integrity of His Word for all times to come: “Verily, it is We Who have sent down this Exhortation, and most surely We are its Guardians.” (Quran 15:10).

          • Dylan

            The Bible is actually a collection of books written by men who attribute their words to God. Massive difference, old chum.

          • la catholic state

            Who is to say the Holy Bible is not the inspired words of God. If they are not….to whose words do you look for guidance. Mere mortals?! Your degraded soul is showing.

          • Dylan

            Because if I told you God had spoken to me and I had words to modify the Bible with, you’d call me a madman institutionalise me.

          • la catholic state

            It depends on what you claimed God told you. Plenty of Saints have claimed that God has spoken to them. Some have been deemed frauds….others not so.

          • la catholic state

            No….I’d just ignore you.

          • Dylan

            Even if my prophesies were common sense, inclusive, and a proclamation of equality?

            Says much.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            Do stay away from sharp objects and take a deep breath.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            Pity they waited 300 plus years to write it down. It would be like waiting until the year 2275 to describe the Moon Landings.

          • SparklingMoon,

            Had there not been individuals in every nation who were innately good, a mere change of religion or faith could not have created goodness, for the Divine law of nature is irrevocable.It would be wrong to think that a whole nation or people are by nature good or evil.The Divine law of nature allows every people to claim that, just as there are innately corrupt, immoral and evil people among them, there are also those who are by nature meek, noble and virtuous.

            Long before the dawn of religion, God had ordained that some people would by nature have a greater share of love and compassion, while others would be more prone to anger and fury. Religion teaches that all the love, obedience, sincerity and faithfulness which a worshiper of idols or of men has for these objects should actually be directed towards God and the same degree of sincerity should be exhibited in His path.

          • SparklingMoon,

            it is not the function of religion to change the natural faculties of man or to turn wolves into lambs.Just as people belonging to every nation of the world have been blessed with physical features such as eyes, noses, mouths, hands and feet, so have they been blessed with inner faculties, and among every nation there are people, good and evil, depending on their moderate or immoderate use of those faculties.

            Neither the Hindus nor Parsees nor Jews nor Sikhs nor Buddhists are outside this law, As a people grow in civility and courtesy and gain knowledge and prestige as a nation, to the same degree, the righteous among them also gain renown for their virtuous lives, character and exemplary conduct. (Ruhanikhazain)

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            I conclude you are as dumb as a bag of hammers./

      • CHBrighton

        An impossible fairy story.Just nonsense.

  • Dylan

    I do feel a terrible grip in my chest when someone describes Great Britain as a Christian nation, today. At best we are about 50/50 believers/non-believers and the believers portion is shared amongst a variety of religions. YouGov polls illustrate this quite well.

    Just because the highest portion of believers are Christian doesn’t make us a Christian nation. We are, fortunately, atheists or agnostics in the main.

    • Zanderz

      5-7% of the population go to a Christian church regularly. Believing Christians have a significant benefit to our society given their small number.

      • Dylan

        OK…

      • ilPugliese

        I don’t know what your society is, but it is very lucky.

    • Always_Worth_Saying

      Only in your own bubble. Look at the census, the vast majority are Christians and the vast majority of the rest are belivers in other faiths. Thirty thousand said they were atheists in the census – out of about sixty three million.

      • Dylan

        Last year’s YouGov poll on the subject.

        “Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion?”

        50% – no.

        “Half (50%) of the population, including around six in ten under-40s, don’t feel they belong to any religion at all.
        Plus, the vast majority (77%) of British adults do not describe themselves as religious.”

        Yes, my own bubble.

        • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

          51% No religion. 20% Anglican. 9% Catholic.7% other Christian.3% Muslim. Social Attitudes Survey 2009.

  • Arden Forester

    Michael Gove is spot on. However, politically he might have had a word in Dave’s ear when the latter was rather pompously putting down traditionally-minded Christians who found an orthodox view of the sacraments preferable to new found meanings and interpretation.

  • Dan Grover

    I actually think this article is a great example of the very divide you discuss, Michael.

    On the one hand there are the loving, generous, open-armed charity-givers who give not only money but their time towards people that society otherwise washes its hands of. They may not do this because they want to convert, and they may not doing it for religious “clubcard” points, and it may well be because their faith engenders them with the desire to help people.

    On the other hand, you have a group of people who genuinely believe that an omniscient deity sent a manifestation of himself to earth just so he could die and take away the sins that it’s within that same deity’s power to forgive in the first place. They genuinely believe that this deity can talk to them in the form of prayer and, for some sections of the faith, that he can make them talk back in tongues. They believe the ten commandments to be the basis of morality, which is absurd even within their own canon given that the Good Samaritan himself pre-dates Moses.

    The first “hand” shows a group of people who, whatever the source, have a great deal of empathy and good will towards people. The second “hand” sounds like a psychiatric evaluation of symptoms. Michael appears to primarily be talking about the former group (in fact, in his defence of Christianity as a modern force for good, he hasn’t one mentioned Jesus), which is all well and good but of course whilst I’ve split them out into two hands, they are one and the same. The latter is a worrying set of beliefs, to me, for a leader to have because they necessarily trump enlightened liberalism (the idea of the individual being the primary source of freedom and liberty – that what one does is of no business to anyone else unless it harms them). And if this isn’t trumped, I’d argue you’re not really a Christian.

    Finally, if Michael finds himself running into a lot of people who find Christians to be “intolerant, naive, superstitious and backward” or that they “were looking to recruit individuals” – maybe there’s a reason? Maybe it’s a result of people’s actual, first-hand experience?

    • GUBU

      And on the third hand – metaphorically speaking – there are people who do the former because they believe wholeheartedly in much of the latter.

      • Dan Grover

        I don’t have three hands, but the third paragraph of my post was essentially that – it’s indeed the case that the latter is the cause of the former. But A leading to B – where B is considered a good thing – does not always mean that A is a good thing. For starts, A may also lead to C, D and E.

        • GUBU

          Nor have I, last time I looked. I was trying, in my own cack handed way, to point out that your original post did not acknowledge that A is the motivation for B. C, D and E – whatever they may be – are irrelevant in this context.

          Perhaps your ‘enlightened’ liberalism should accept that an individual’s personal motivation for ‘doing good’ is their business – to adapt a phrase from your third paragraph, why you do something to someone else should be of no business to anyone else unless there is evidence that some harm is involved.

          • Dan Grover

            I entirely acknowledge and accept that. I’m not sure what I wrote that makes you think I don’t. My problem is that it’s an inherently illogical and irrational belief. That it has happy outcomes at times has to be tempered with the fact that it can also have unhappy outcomes and they both have the same root justification – that the person conducting such behaviour is doing so because they believe they’re doing the right thing in the eyes of their creator. Surely you can see why this might be a problem in a leader?

          • GUBU

            ‘Englightened liberalism’ also has a history of producing both happy and unhappy outcomes.

            You deem Christian belief ‘inherently illogcal and irrational’. I in turn could plausibly claim that your rather pristine notion of ‘freedom and liberty’ is inherently naive and impractical.

            Should your – or anyone’s – beliefs therefore be excluded from the public sphere and their actions considered questionable purely on the grounds of the perceived flaws in their motivation?

            Surely you can see why this might be a problem for all of us?

          • Dan Grover

            Of course.

            That’s OK, I’m a big boy, you can claim that if you like.

            I don’t want anyone’s beliefs “excluded from the public sphere” – I’m expressing my disagreement, not asking that Michael stop writing about it.

            Not really. You don’t seem to disagree with my notion that religion – and Michael’s talking about Christianity and a hunch tells me you are too, but in reality the problems I’m expressing are the case with any “revealed” religion wherein you use a religious text as a blueprint for how to live your life – can cause negative outcomes. And it’s also true that there have been liberals who, believing they were acting in the best interests of liberalism, have produced bad outcomes. No disagreement here. The difference, though, is that liberalism attempts, at least, to use logic and rationality as the basis for its outcomes. Indeed, rationalism is the very crux of liberalism – you can’t have individual liberties if you do not also believe man capable of acting rationally. If someone tries something and for whatever reason it achieves an unhappy outcome, I at least have “faith” that an actual liberal will take stock of that and alter their approach appropriately – to do that is rational. If they don’t do this, then they aren’t actually a liberal. With someone whose basis for what’s right and wrong is a revealed religious text that they believe to be the word of god has no such need to re-think their choices and priorities. To them, they are doing God/G-d/Allah/Whoever’s will and – as this article demonstrates – no amount of criticism of that act can change a true believer’s mind that what they’re doing is the right thing. *That* is why I think it’s a troublesome ideology for a leader to have, and also why I think it’s inherently different to a set of beliefs that rely on rationality and logic.

  • Zanderz

    I’m surprised at the negative comments. Michael makes a very clear and truthful argument. I suppose the negativity is a combination of party politics, and as he describes, contemporary society’s hatred of Jesus and Christianity.

    • Dan Grover

      Michael didn’t even mention Jesus – which is telling in itself.

    • Always_Worth_Saying

      There isn’t a general hostility to Christianity. There’s a small bubble of haters – drawn to BTL – and an establishment in London terrified of, and appeasing, Islam.

    • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

      Not hatred ,just rational incredulity and a massive helping of contempt resulting from Christianity’s dreadful, violent, intolerant history. The Bible is obsolete as an explanation. Christian leaders have preyed on the innocently credulous for centuries with their unfounded superstitions.Their distrust of modern science, outlawing condoms and taking a ludicruous view of HIV has led to much suffering even in modern times, let alone the millions who died for practising the wrong Christianity in the last 600 years.
      Christianity has been used as an excuse to harm children, to ethnically cleanse societies, to line the pockets of Bishops and Abbots.
      The concept of sin has led to low self esteem, especially for many women. I accept some folk need to believe or even worship something, usually publicly.Hence we have the new religions of Gyms and Shopping Malls. Both sets of worshippers sneer at the other and take to their new faiths with maniacal devotion. The Gym bunnie is the modern day Protestan self denier, The Shopaholic the Catholic sinner.

      • la catholic state

        What a load of baloney. Christians have the most peaceful record of anyone. And we led the world in scientific achievements, arts, finance, exploration, architecture, literature etc. Not perfect…but nothing in a Fallen world is perfect and we are always battling against wilful human nature.
        HIV is due to sexual promiscuity….not chaste Christian living.

        • CHBrighton

          there you go again! with your belief in ‘I’m better than you are’.

        • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

          Have you not read about; the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Thirty Years War, the persecution of Cathars and the Hugeunots, Cromwells ravages of Ireland, Theodosius’s massacre of pagan kids, the battles of Askalon, Belgrade and the White mountain, the siege of Jerusalem, the Waldensian herecy, the burning of witches, the pogroms and slaughter of Jews, the Conquistadores and the Jesuits….to name but a few?
          Maybe not. Probably in the bits of history Gove wanted removed from the curricullum.

          • la catholic state

            And?! The Inquistion killed a mere 3000 persons in all its centuries of operations…..unlike the secular courts who gave the death penalty for stealing a goat as a sheep. How many lost their lives thus in England alone?!
            And Crusaders are Catholic defenders. They are our heroes.
            Please remember…wars will always happen….but Christians alone are commanded to love their enemy and not exact revenge.
            Ever heard of secular leader’s 2 world wars?!

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            I have listed 17 events which led to the death of almost 7 million people. But you choose to spin the Inquisition terror as a minor incident of 3,000 executions.

          • la catholic state

            And?! Are you saying Im lying?! Proof please.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            No I am saying you are selective and evasive. Try the Thirty Years War. Some say Europes bloodiest conflict.

          • Gerschwin

            As are you.

          • Gerschwin

            All of your examples are very, very old, nothing within living memory, nothing within the last two hundred years. Given Atheism’s contribution to humanity has been the filth that is the Nazis, Communists and Socialism, all within living memory of plenty of people, then thanks I’ll stick with Christianity.You’re going to have to do a lot better than trotting out old and redundant arguments about all the bad things Catholic priests did in the 16th Century… it’s like dismissing Ancient Roman civilization because once they had slaves – narrow minded, uneducated and frankly just plain thick.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            I am replying to a post that said Christianity had the most peaceful record. Meaning ever, not just in the last 200 years. By the way the pogroms went on until 1920. I didn’t get into French priests in Vietnam, the Rwandan genocide, N Ireland troubles…..

      • http://www.ukipforbritain.co.uk/ ukipforbritainwebsite

        Rubbish! We’ve been ruled by elites for a thousand years, and we’re still tuled by them. Claiming the church was all powerful is just a smoke-screen to keep people from knowing who really holds power in society.

        • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

          Where have I referred to Christianity as an elite or all powerful?

      • Zanderz

        Uh oh, it’s Angry Atheism time. It’s time to stop reading Dawkins and get some perspective.

        • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

          Never read any Dawkins, but do like Christopher Hitchens.

    • CHBrighton

      Not hatred, we just don’t like being told what we should believe or what we shouldn’t believe. And christians have a nasty tendency to tell others how they should live their lives while not always adhering to their own belief system.

      • Zanderz

        Just like everyone else then? There’s only been 1 perfect man and he’s not on Earth at the moment.

        • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

          Do you have any idea what a fool this makes you appear?

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          No but his bones are.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    What piffle. And isn’t it ironic that Gove chooses Tony Blair as the role model for Christianity. Within a paragraph of mentioning him Gove refers to Christians as, “the kind of people who built our civilisation, founded our democracies, developed our modern ideas of rights and justice, ended slavery, established universal education and who are, even as I write, in the forefront of the fight against poverty, prejudice and ignorance.” Just as Tony Blair wasn’t one of “that kind of people” it is ridiculous to suggest that people of one faith, whose faith is simply an accident of birth location, have some type of monopoly on morality and social justice.

    There would be little point me listing those of no faith who exemplified all of those virtues that Gove bestows only on Christians. Gove overlooks those who predate Christianity who also had virtue. He overlooks those of other faiths who fought for social justice. His logic is that of the tribe: “my tribe is better than yours because I say so.”

    But let me list some of the people on the libertarian right who would take issue with his puerile argument. Hayek was an Agnostic. Adam Smith was a pillar of the Scottish enlightenment and there is evidence that he questioned his faith. Milton Friedman had no belief in a god or gods. Many Conservative MPs have no religious faith. Indeed when I organised a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference a few years ago – the meeting addressed by Professor Richard Dawkins – we had a packed house and loud cheering from the packed room as Dawkins made his unarguable case for disestablishment of the Anglican Church and the removal of Anglican bishops from the House of Lords.

    Christians are, indeed, losing their privileged position in UK society – and that’s a good thing. No group should claim a monopoly on virtue. Each has to win respect based on force of argument and winning hearts and minds. Liberal democracy has a tendency to move away from closed shops – that’s why we broke the stranglehold of the trade Unions. It’s also why we need to remove religion from education – because it isn’t educational. It simply presents an unquestioning world view on malleable minds. Our children should be taught to think, not simply accept.

    Gove seems uncomfortable in a world that’s moving away from his world view. That’s a good thing, for all of us – those of us of faith and those of us with none.

    • Zanderz

      Gove wasn’t referencing Blair as an example of Christianity, but of Paxman’s approach to it. The remainder of you argument confuses practised religion with biblical truth. For example, you imply Gove says that one has to be a Christian to have virtues, when the bible clearly says that all are made in the likeness of God.

    • Genci

      Give some time and you will see the end…

    • Kat

      ‘It is ridiculous to suggest that people of one faith, whose faith is
      simply an accident of birth location, have some type of monopoly on
      morality and social justice.’

      Gove never suggests this at any point – he says that this is exactly what the secular world does to people of faith.

      • ilPugliese

        Because people of faith are imposing their views on others. “debt counselling, marriage guidance, childcare, English language
        lessons, after-school clubs, food banks, emergency accommodation and, sometimes most importantly of all, someone to listen.” It’s none of the business of a religion to do these things. It might have been 500 years ago, but we are way beyond that now.

        • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

          Exactly. Christians cannot take the credit for ending slavery and they only taught people to read so they could read the Bible.

          • la catholic state

            Sorry….but the Catholic Church was teaching the poor to read…when the Government couldn’t give a fig. (The rich already had private tutors). And we do take credit for ending slavery. Unless you are going to tell me Muslims set up the Abolitionist movement.

            And the Catholic Church has been educating girls for hundreds of years at least. You can never separate Catholicism from education….real education…not government propaganda as in state secular schools.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            They didn’t help the 60% of Sicilians who remin

          • la catholic state

            Maybe there wasn’t enough nuns and monks to do the work. OR maybe young Sicillians didn’t have time to attend school…working on their farms. Still….without the Catholic Church…literacy among Sicillians would have been 10% Im sure. I mean…what interest does a government have in a well educated populace. You can see this in the dumbed down state education we have today.
            The Abolition movement was a Christian movement my dear.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            The Crusades, the Inquisition, persecution of the Jews, injustice to women, the forced conversion of peoples in Central and South America, the African slave trade, support of Facist dictators, the teaching that AIDS is bad but not as bad as birth control, abuse including sexual abuse of children in Catholic care homes from Ireland to Australia. And I haven’t even got my trousers off yet.
            Catholicism, the most evil organisation in the history of history itself. Compared to which the Third Reisch was little more than a college hasing that got a little out of hand.
            Better order up a industrial supply of whitewash, state. You’re going to need it.
            Jack, Japan Alps

    • Peter Stroud

      You mention Dawkins. Now, I cannot think of a single Christian who demonstrates the absolute fanaticism to their faith, that the good professor directs to atheism. He has elevated it to a religion.

      • WJH19731

        You’ve obviously never been to the creationist “museum” in the U.S. if you have never seen a Christian as fanatical about their religion as you think Dawkins is about athiesm.

  • Bob John

    The reason why many people have disdain for the Christian faith and the Bible is because the devil has blinded them (read 2nd Corinthians 4 v 4).

  • Molly NooNar

    The Church of England are horrified at the vindictiveness of the cuts imposed by the Tories, were 900,000 people rely on foodbanks. The Tory attempt to head of the Church’s criticisms is ridiculous- you actually could have addressed their concerns, if you cared.

    • Always_Worth_Saying

      No, nine hundred thousand have used foot banks. Many of them only once.

    • Zanderz

      Use does not denote need.

  • grahambc1

    A well worded article whose impact is reduced by the very fact that the man who wrote it displayed little of the lauded virtues when as education secretary he showed no empathy to those affected by his dogmatic curriculum changes or compassion as he voted through policies like the bedroom tax producing a litany of distressing situations.

    • Thomas Pelham

      What bedroom tax? Do you mean cutting the spare room subsidy? Do you want to pay for people to block up the council housing ladders? I don’t understand why this is such a huge thing with labour. How do you know he showed no empathy? You can have empathy and still disagree.

      All of the decent teachers I know love his reforms – rigour is returning to our classrooms.

  • BillRees

    I’m not a practising Christian, but I am a cultural Christian.

    And I have great sympathy with Christians generally, and with much of what Michael Gove writes. Christians have been an overwhelming force for good in our society, despite some of the scandals that some have been associated with.

    I’m amazed to see so many negative comments about this article.

    The decline of Christianity has unfortunately mirrored the decline in our society.

    • Bert

      “The decline of Christianity has unfortunately mirrored the decline in our society”

      Absolutely. And how society has declined. The decay has been mirrored by the rise of the barbaric & aggressive religion that is Islam – coupled to modern day consumerism and sense of entitlement(regardless of whether one has worked for it or not) these three factors have utterly destroyed the moral fabric of the UK.

      • ohforheavensake

        Yes, how it’s declined. We’re more peaceful, more tolerant, less likely to be violent, and generally nicer than we were.

        Where will it end?

        • Bertie

          “We’re more peaceful,more tolerant, less likely to be violent – and generally nicer than we were…”

          Is that how you describe the grooming and raping of white girls in Northern England ??

          What of the brutal killing of Lee Rigby on the streets of his own country by some African with a machete. Would that have happened in the past? Dont recall it ever happening before.

          Any chance of some of what you’re clearly smoking?

          More tolerant, less violent.

          These are the actions of a BRIT!
          Jihadi John, apparently British according to the press – not in my view he isnt. Remind me when the last time was that a British person violently beheaded 5 people with a carving knife and recorded it.

          http://ekurd.net/beheadings-and-bikinis-the-new-dark-ages-2015-04-02

          • Richard Sanderson

            What have you got to say about the rampant racism, bigotry, sexism, discrimination of the past?

            People, especially Christians, look to the past with rose-tinted glasses. I’d rather not go back to a time when the Church had power and influence – you only have to take a look round the world to see how destructive that is.

          • la catholic state

            So….you think Cameron et al have your best interests at heart while the Pope doesn’t. Very short sighted and nieve if I may say so.

          • David Hopkins

            How does the Pope fit into this conversation? We are discussing Christianity, not a money spinning sect.

          • Hironimous Nostril

            Christianity was invented to exert power and control over the peasants. It still works on the intellectually challenged today.

          • pobjoy

            It was Catholicism that was invented to exert power and control over the plebeians, then the serfs, then (with less success) the working classes. Catholicism is a pretty neat inversion of Christianity.

          • Hironimous Nostril

            No true Scotsman fallacy.

          • pobjoy

            What do you mean?

          • Leo Marconel

            Yes, it annoys them.

          • http://www.ukipforbritain.co.uk/ ukipforbritainwebsite

            The Church in England never had supreme power – that’s a figment of the liberal, progressive, atheist imagination. The king (or queen) and his subordinates held supreme power. Then a political class emerged 300 years ago. England has never been a theocracy.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            Correct. But from around 1200 until1536 the Church was at least the equal of the King.

          • cityboy

            if you look at Martin Luther, and the 95 theses you will see that his problem with the church at the time was the use of priests taking money given for prayers and last writes etc. was being used by the priests to for their own use, to pay off their own debts. This money came mainly from peasants and to help fund the building of the sty peters Basilica, which replaced the basilica that Constantine built, in answer to Church and State, during this period the church had the power to excommunicate kings and princes, there for forcing them to bow to the church’s commands, after all it was the pope that ordered the first crusade.

          • Dogsnob

            And this is relevant, how?

          • https://twitter.com/shrobb2 Rhoderick Gates

            Not even when under the grip of the Catholic Church?

          • http://www.ukipforbritain.co.uk/ ukipforbritainwebsite

            Nope!

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            No. Not even then in the UK.Maybe in Spain, or the Papacy and other backward natiions, but not here.

          • Leo Marconel

            Exactly, but try explaining that to progressive robots who think that Britain only became a civilized country in say 1977 and that its pre-1977 history is one of Germanophobia, raaayycizzzm, theocracy and dark ages. Truth is, none of these morons could even argue with say a learned 19th century Englishan, they hardly know what WW II was all about, understand next to nothing of Christianity, and even less about XIX century history or before.

          • Connor Tuvey

            While you’re right its merely by technicality. We were never officially a theocracy but we did answer to the popes wishes out of fear of war with the whole of Europe for several hundred years. The pope held more power in Europe than any single monarch and any monarch who opposed the pope was quickly dispatched. its hardly a figment of the imagination to say that Christianity had power over England. It had power over the whole of Europe.

          • Ormond Otvos

            Wow! Just Wow! No religious government in England?

            You don’t read history, do you?

          • http://www.ukipforbritain.co.uk/ ukipforbritainwebsite

            I’ve got a degree in it!

          • Ormond Otvos

            I guess that’s an argument for decline.

          • http://www.ukipforbritain.co.uk/ ukipforbritainwebsite

            Ha ha!

          • Tynam

            …and there have definitely never been people in the House of Lords, making public policy that affected everyone, present solely because they were Church officials.

          • Bertie

            In the past surely? As is slavery….or so we thought. And why do you imply they were Christian specific? Attempt at diversion perhaps.

            This atheistic cultural vacuum we now live in is not healthy.And I say this as only a non practising Christian btw.

            Not a religious zealot but I’m sure you’ll find a way to twist that piece of info…

            All those “isms” you quote are still practised by Islam around the world yet you cannot bring yourself to say a single bad thing about the barbarism of that religion. No, it’s all the fault of Christianity….

            Pretty obvious where you’r coming from Dick.

          • Kenneth Crook

            Try reading The Better Angls of our Nature by Steven Pinker and see real data to show a decline in violence over the years, despite what the Daily Mail would have you believe.

          • Bertie

            I dont read the daily mail. Telegraph and Spectator.
            Wouldnt be seen wiping my botty with the Guardian either.

          • Leo Marconel

            A decline in violence over the last millennia, mind you, Professor. Violence didn’t just begin to decline in the 1950s, when English Christianity started to crumble.

            In fact, from the 50s on, crime went up, Professor, coinciding with the decline in Christianity, just as the Mail indeed would have you believe.

          • Kenneth Crook

            Check the data Leo Marconel. It’s gone down. And as you must realise, a Bronze age book full of rape, genocide, incest, murder etc is not likely to be the basis for this decline.

          • Leo Marconel

            “It’s gone down” – since when? Compared to when? As in your previous post your failure to be specific, and the corresponding regurgitation of brain-dead propaganda slogans make meaningful conversation with you impossible. I’m arguing with a robot.

          • Kenneth Crook

            I’ll avoid your invitation to start throwing insults and say that I’m not going to precis a 1000 word book for you. If you care to challenge your beliefs with sourced data you’ll read it. If you don’t you won’t.

          • Ormond Otvos

            I’m glad to say “Bad Islamic fundies!” Keep your silly cult-think to yourself.

            Religion is personal. Government is social.

          • Andrew Pantelli

            People, especially Christians, look to the past with rose-tinted glasses. I’d rather not go back to a time when the Church had power and influence – you only have to take a look round the world to see how destructive that is.

            No! Christians do not look at history through rose tinted glasses! And yes! church separated from State is best for us all.

          • Leo Marconel

            Separation of state and church is a Christian principle, Professor.

          • Dogsnob

            I’ve taken a look round the world. Where are churches being destructive?

          • Tynam

            Off the top of my head, mostly places in Africa and the US. And everywhere Catholic. And a few other places.

            In all of those places, churches are _also_ being constructive, helpful, beautiful models of social support. But that doesn’t mean they’re not being destructive as well.

            It’s possible for institutions to do more than one thing.

          • Dogsnob

            What are Catholic Churches destroying in Africa and the US? How are they doing this?

          • Tynam

            Women’s rights and sexual health care, mostly. They do this primarily by spreading lies and ignorance about contraception, because pushing the doctrine of women-as-babymakers is more important than actual health or education.

            In the US the Catholic church is less responsible for this, possibly because the evangelical church is attacking women’s rights and health care with such total commitment and zealotry that there’s really no need for anyone else to do anything.

            Issues of harm are complicated. The Catholic church is beyond doubt the single biggest provider of care, support and treatment for AIDS patients in the world.

            On the other hand, it’s policies in Africa were a primary contributing factor to the massive AIDS epidemic there. (In rich “first world” countries the Church’s ban on safe sex was mostly ignored by a better-informed public; not so in many areas of rural Africa.)

            Senior officials of the church outright lied – repeatedly – about contraception, claiming that condoms couldn’t stop the AIDS virus. John Paul’s African tours did a lot to discourage safe sex, and hence encourage the spread of the disease.

            (Pope Francis is doing a little better, but hasn’t done anything about the underlying problem, and isn’t likely to.)

          • Gerschwin

            ‘On the other hand, it’s* policies in Africa were a primary contributing factor to the massive AIDS epidemic there’
            Their message was don’t have sex except to procreate and only after marriage – think you’ll find that if people had followed that AIDS would have been very limited in Africa. Fairly logical really. Don’t blame the Church for the spread of AIDS simply because they refuse to sign up to the left wing dogma of deconstructing the family unit which did spread AIDS – it is you and your ilk (although I suspect you’re only about 17) that spread AIDS and you and your ilk are, finally, facing a reckoning for this in Africa – as you deserve.
            *its not it’s.

          • Tynam

            Their message was NOT “don’t have sex except to procreate and only after marriage”. I wish it had been. That would still have been medieval, stupid and harmful, but it wouldn’t have spread disease.

            Their message was “don’t have sex except to procreate and only after marriage, and if you break that rule don’t bother using a condom, because condoms do not prevent AIDS”. This was a flat-out lie, told because pushing their messed-up theology – even on non-Catholics – for authoritarian reasons was much more important than telling the truth about disease prevention.

            Since this lie is on record, repeatedly, from multiple senior Catholic officials, I find it disingenuous of you in the extreme to pretend that’s not the message they were spreading. Even the Church itself doesn’t hide that that was the agenda they were pushing.

            Your last paragraphs of (ineptly attempted) personal attack are beneath contempt, and unworthy of response.

            Thanks for pointing out the typo, though. Corrected.

          • Gerschwin

            Bulls’ eye again. You’re too easy. Are you a student? Read a couple of books, been infected with 1960s Marxist enthusiasm? It’s very sweet, you’re almost in need of a cuddle – everything is a conspiracy by the rich, the Catholics, Bilderbeg, the Jooos ! I am Tynam and I am not responsible for my crappy no hope 2:2 from the University of Nowhere (formerly Nowhere Polytechnic), best I could get into and no idea how I will ever pay off the debt! Love it.

          • Tynam

            Wow. I point out one lie – so well documented it’s in encyclopedia articles and news for the last ten years – and you’re so unable to cope, you have to quickly change the subject to personal attacks.

            Obvious troll is obvious.

            Free hint for next time: If you had replied to my comments with, say, evidence, or an argument, or reason, or something, your need for attention would have been less obvious, and you might have kept the scam going another five or ten posts before everyone realised you weren’t actually interested in the debate.

          • Gerschwin

            Ha, magic. Two hours stewing over that one. You’re wonderful, like I said – too easy.

          • Guest

            ‘so well documented it’s in encyclopedia articles and news for the last ten years…’ Wikipedia ain’t evidence.

          • http://rantingoldgit.blogspot.co.uk/ Arthur Sparknottle

            Ha ha ha – you just blew a gasket there and engaged in a stupid ad hominem attack because you have no other answer to him.

          • Gerschwin

            Weak.

          • Dogsnob

            Strange that you view a woman giving birth as a kind of destruction. The Church argues that there are other, more advisable ways to deal with AIDS, because in the long term, contraception will, at best, marginally curtail spread.

            I think your criticism of this one religion would be more effectively levelled at the one which is bent on forms of destruction altogether more concrete and immediate. Genital mutilation, campus slaughter and honour killings: now that’s destruction.

          • Leo Marconel

            I have argued with people about this but you can’t get this in their heads.
            They say “the Church creates deaths by protecting life” and can’t seem to understand the obvious self contradictory nonsense of that statement.

          • Autolocus

            Henry VIII had a go and got Thomas Cromwell to do the recording.

          • Hironimous Nostril

            Look up the word generally in the dictionary you berk. All the crimes you list are religious based. It’s religion that is the problem.

          • Bertie

            Eh? I’m well aware of what the word “generally” means.
            What’s the context in which you make your statement above as youve not specificed which point(s) you are referring to.

        • la catholic state

          There is nothing tolerant or peaceful about legalised abortion. Remember….when we allow our unborn children to be slaughtered….some day we will be the victims of slaughter to come.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            Now this is nutty stuff.

          • Hironimous Nostril

            Non sequitur. God based drool.

          • A_Kill_Ease

            Yeah its a big shame that women think they have rights to their own lives and bodies…its just so irreligious and ludicrous thinking on their part.

        • http://www.ukipforbritain.co.uk/ ukipforbritainwebsite

          In the past 12 this has become a country of liberal progressive warmongers. Slavery, female genital mutilation, destruction of freedom of thought are now regarded as a normal part of British life.

          • Bertie

            Surprising this individual thinks we’ve become more peaceful,more considerate – which, given your comments above paint this naive comments in a very unfavourable light.

            ohforheavensake Bertie • an hour ago
            Yes, how it’s declined. We’re more peaceful, more tolerant, less likely to be violent, and generally nicer than we were.
            Where will it end?

          • Jack

            None of those things are regarded as normal British life. What a disgusting thing to say about my country.

          • http://www.ukipforbritain.co.uk/ ukipforbritainwebsite

            They have been normalised due to political correctness. Your disgust is with what now constitutes ‘British’ culture.

          • Jack

            No they haven’t been normalised. FGM is in the papers all the time precisely because it is an issue. I find that a deeply offensive thing to say about my culture. Please explain how political correctness has somehow made FGM normal; I hope you are able to and you’re not just making childish claims.

          • http://www.ukipforbritain.co.uk/ ukipforbritainwebsite

            If it were not seen as ‘normal’ then it would be stamped out within 12 months and the families of those girls would be deported. Doctors know it is immeasurably more widespread than has been admitted.

          • Jack

            That’s quite an absurd diagnosis isn’t it? Stamped out? It is a cultural practice that has to be eradicated over time, as it occurs in private and often goes unreported, requiring it to be dealt with subversively; teaching generations to come that it is not alright at all. Your fix is a child’s fix; unworkable and unhelpful but sounds very big and final.

          • http://www.ukipforbritain.co.uk/ ukipforbritainwebsite

            No – child abuse is a crime and the law should be applied universally. The criminals should be arrested, imprisoned and deported. It can be done quickly and efficiently. There’s absolutely no excuse to tolerate this horrendous child abuse. Those who adhere to such vile beliefs will bring other vile beliefs as well. They’ve proven by their actions they’re a waste of space.

          • Jack

            It is applied universally – the parents are punished. We don’t tolerate it, the same way we don’t tolerate domestic violence. But there are limits to what is possible. We then do the sensible thing and work with the children so that they grow up as unhindered by their terrible experiences as possible, but also so that they don’t grow up with the same strange views and prejudices. To be honest I don’t think the best way to deal with a problem is to keep chipping away at the visible symptoms, purely because agreeing to deport people who are a waste of space would have us deport a load of native English people as well, who also have pretty abhorrent views, are violent, and who offer little.

            I hope you are basing this on your experiences as a social worker. That is, I hope you’re not just assuming you know best without any hands-on experience.

          • Andrew Pantelli

            The situation that the civilized world finds itself in, has been brought about by the religion that is called Islam. There are no! redeeming aspects of this ideology.

          • Jack

            Again, what exactly in my point are you replying to? If you’re a grown up this is a pretty pathetic attempt at being significant, just raving about things that aren’t being discussed.

          • Autolocus

            Presumably wife beating does not count as domestic violence. Islamic logic rearing its ugly head again.

          • Tynam

            You’ve proven by your bigoted rants that _you’re_ a waste of space, whose vile beliefs will bring other vile beliefs as well. The last war we fought for this country was precisely to prevent racist scum like you being in charge it.

            But I have more sense than to suggest that you should be deported. It’s our responsibility to deal with you.

          • Gerschwin

            The last war fought for this country had nothing to do with racism – despite what your GCSE text books are telling you.

          • http://www.ukipforbritain.co.uk/ ukipforbritainwebsite

            Ha ha ha!

          • http://www.ukipforbritain.co.uk/ ukipforbritainwebsite

            I will repeat my words: Child abuse is a crime and the law should be applied universally. Defending the indefensible and claiming Britain fought the Second World War in support of child rapists is deluded nonsense.

          • Tynam

            Child abuse is a crime, and the law_is_ applied universally. Many people have challenged you to prove otherwise, and you have failed, because you are talking nonsense.

            The Second World War was fought against bigotry and racism.

            Like yours.

          • http://www.ukipforbritain.co.uk/ ukipforbritainwebsite

            Rotherham, Derby, Halifax, Oxford, Manchester – there’s a few examples to being with. The law was not applied for 30 years – pretending otherwise is ignoring the horrific truth.

          • Leo Marconel

            It was fought out of nationalistic British principles that today would sound bigoted and racist.

            It was not, not in the first place, an ideological war, and to the degree that it was it was a pro-freedom, pro-Christian war against neo-pagan bigotry.

            Sound familiar?

          • Connor Tuvey

            it wouldnt be such a problem if it was easy as “just stamp it out”. You dont just destroy the root of evil in someones life by stamping your little foot in anger and saying BAD

          • kittydeer

            If you don’t think fgm and routine abortion of baby girls is not going on wholesale throughout some parts of the UK then I fear you are a long way from reality. People who work in hospitals will tell you but the mainstream media is scared sxxtless about reporting it.

          • Jack

            “If you don’t think fgm and routine abortion of baby girls is not going on wholesale throughout some parts of the UK ” – I don’t necessarily not think that. I have nowhere said that I do not think that is going on. Why have you assumed that to be the case? All I said was it has not become normalised into British culture, which it hasn’t, otherwise the hospitals wouldn’t be scared of it.

            Have these people been telling you? Genuinely?

          • Andrew Pantelli

            My culture has been eradicated by people like you. You are in effect condoning the grooming of young vulnerable children.

            You are condoning the covering of women from head to toe, with only their eyes showing.
            You are condoning FGM, and having many wives, that we are paying for. You are condoning halal foods that have been prayed over for your destruction, and which you probably buy, and which a percentage is taxed and given to those who want to kill you!
            You are condoning the intimidation of people who were born here with roots that go back hundreds of years.
            You condone the benefit cheating that is endemic in this country (I have proof, just a sample! signing on at 40! benefit offices!) you are condoning the destruction of civilization by a religion that is HELL bent on taking over the world, let alone My culture! by force if necessary.
            Read the Koran and Hadiths before you post an answer!

          • Jack

            How am I condoning those things? Read my comments properly before you reply to them you absolute moron. I would like nothing less than a full explanation of how I condone those things, or a recognition that you are an imbecile who doesn’t belong talking to grown ups.

          • Andrew

            Nice show of true christian love and understanding there by a true grown up.

          • Autolocus

            Indeed the Koran states that religion should not be a matter of compulsion. The Hadiths require non believers to be killed.
            That all seems logical- no compulsion but guaranteed destruction if you don’t go along with their demands.
            What it must be like to practice a religion of so called peace!

          • SparklingMoon,

            Indeed the Koran states that religion should not be a matter of compulsion. The Hadiths require non believers to be killed.
            **********************************************
            A hadith that is against the message of the Quran is not acceptable as Hadiths ( sayings of prophet of Islam ) were just explanation of the Quran. It has ever been the way of God that the Prophets bring the Word of God for the guidance of people and illustrate it in practice with their conduct so that no doubt should remain in the minds of people with regard to the Divine Word. They act upon it and urge others to do the same. Holy life of prophet of Islam (sa) was a mirror of the Quran.

          • A_Kill_Ease

            “Holy life of the profit of Islam” ? you’re kidding right?,
            HOLY COW!

          • Ormond Otvos

            You mean Mohammed warring on neighboring cities, killing hundreds? Yeah, real peaceful example.

          • SparklingMoon,

            The following Charter of Freedom and Peace that Prophet of Islam Mohammad (sa) granted to St. Catherine’s Monastery in Mount Sinai in 628, the 6th year of Hegira (the migration of Prophet of Islam and his companion from Mecca to Madeenah) is, perhaps, the best illustration the Holy Prophet’s desire for inter-religious peace. It was promised by Prophet of Islam::

            “This is the document which Muhammad, the son of Abdullah, God’s Prophet, Warner and Bearer of glad tidings has caused to be written so that there should remain no excuse for those coming after. I have caused this document to be written for the Christians of the East and West, for those who live near, and for those of the distant lands, for the Christians living at present and for those who will come after, for those Christians who are known to us and for those as well whom we do not know. Any Muslim violating or distorting what has been ordained will be considered to be violating God’s Covenant and will be transgressing against His Promise and by doing so, will incur God’s wrath, be he a monarch or an ordinary subject.

            ”I promise that any monk or wayfarer who will seek my help on the mountains, in forests, deserts or habitations, or places of worship, I will repel his enemies with my friends and helpers, with all my relatives and with all those who profess to follow me and will defend them, because they are my covenant. And I will defend the covenanted against the persecution, injury and embarrassment of their enemies in lieu of the poll tax they have promised to pay. If they prefer to defend their properties and persons themselves, they will be allowed to do so and will not be put to any inconvenience on that account.

            No bishop will be expelled from his bishopric, no monk from his monastery, no priest from his place of worship, and no pilgrim will be detained in his pilgrimage. None of their churches or other places of worship will be desolated or destroyed or demolished. No material of their churches will be used to build mosques or houses for the Muslims; any Muslim doing so will be regarded as recalcitrant to God and His Prophet. Monks and Bishops will be subject to no poll tax or indemnity whether they live in forests or on rivers, in the East or in the West, in the North or in the South. I give them my word of honour. They are on my promise and covenant and will enjoy perfect immunity from all sorts of inconveniences. Every help shall be given to them in the repair of their churches. They shall be absolved of wearing arms. They shall be protected by the Muslims.

            Let this document not be disobeyed till Judgement Day.”

            (Signed: Muhammad, the Messenger of God) (Letters of the Messenger) (Al-Wasaiq-ul-Siyasiyya, pp. 187-190)

          • Tynam

            He is condoning no such thing, and has expressly argued against it.

            Quit the BNP speechmaking and answer the question you were asked. Or admit you have no answer, and shut up. But don’t pretend your inability to talk without raging anger is some kind of virtue.

          • Dogsnob

            It’s not your culture, that’s the whole point. Your culture is being displaced by another, with all its nefarious ways.

          • cping500

            What about the boys?

          • Andrew Pantelli

            You are not living in the real world. Or possibly living in an idyllic English village.
            The treats to vicars, ordinary folk, prisoners et al! the intimidation and indeed the beheading and killing that is committed in the name of Islam, replicating what the self proclaimed prophet himself did.The continual demands, and forever seeking justification for the demonic acts committed in the name of Allah, seems to have passed you by?

          • Jack

            No such things haven’t passed me by, why? Please explain yourself clearly, including exactly what you are responding to.

          • Jack

            Still waiting for an explanation of why those things must have passed me by. What an idiot.

          • Tynam

            Oh noes! I must be terrified, immediately, or horrible things will happen!

            Jack is living in the same real world that you do. But unlike you, he is not scared of it.

            Free hint: Ian Duncan Smith has killed more British citizens during his time in office than every terrorist of the last two decades, put together.

            So why do you think his government keeps yelling “be scared of Islam?” Free hint: it’s not because they’re scared themselves.

          • Dogsnob

            Nothing disgusting about saying it.
            They are regarded as normal to the extent that we all know they are here and will only increase as the number of people who engage in such practices are allowed to be part of our nation.
            There’s the disgusting bit.

          • Tim Gilling

            You appear to have confused Britain with the Planet Zog.

          • Connor Tuvey

            If you want to complain about female genital mutilation slavery or destruction of freedom you might want to check the history of the catholic church a little before making such bold sweeping statements. “for the past 1000 years this has been a society of christian progressive warmongers. Slavery, female genital mutilation and destruction of freedom of thought have been considered a normal part of Christian life.”

          • Tynam

            …pretty certain it was the Conservatives who formally made debt-slavery legal again, although the other parties rushed to back them up, so no prizes there.

        • Shazza

          Within 30 years the evolving demographic will achieve it’s ambition. That is where it will end.

        • http://deanroberts.net/ Dean Aaron Roberts

          Really? That’s not what I see on the news every day. The “tolerant” brigade are the most intolerant bunch of people I know!

          • Jack

            Well the news is bringing you sights from across the globe, so the fact you see it every day is no indication of whether or not violence or intolerance has increased or not. It’s the same fallacy that my nan commits when she claims she never heard about paedophiles when she was young; there was no TV news, and what 8 year old reads a paper, what parent buys one when they can’t afford shoes?

            The fact that you are able to watch said news form your house, free from bandits, delivered by journalists not being hung for being foreign, is pretty amazing in terms of how far we’ve come.

          • http://deanroberts.net/ Dean Aaron Roberts

            Yes – I’m not disputing that coverage is better… but it’s a mistake to think that humanity is improving. Humanity just replaces old vices with new ones. Seriously – the sooner we realise that we are not evolving into better people, the better.

          • Jack

            We clearly are though. We have invented the concept of human rights and it is now pretty widely accepted and put into practice. We’re getting somewhere.

          • http://deanroberts.net/ Dean Aaron Roberts

            I don’t think so… and any way, seeing as this article is about Christianity, Christians have a very different concept and idea of “rights”, seeing as you’re talking about human rights. You may think we’re more civilised in the West, but the more civilised we become the more polarised we are between “us” and those who are not like us. Poverty polarises us more than ever, yet we have more means and ability to stamp out poverty than ever before. That in itself is enough to make me vehemently disagree with your claims.

          • Jack

            I don’t necessarily think “we’re more civilised in the West” (not sure where you got that from!), I do think people generally are more virtuous than they have ever been. Poverty polarises us more, but we put great effort into making sure that the poorest people in our society are less poor than they have been before. The poorest 10% in the UK for example have an infinitely better life now than they ever have done, partly because average people see that they have a duty of care to them, so don’t mind paying lots of taxes for them even though plenty of people don’t work.

            People everywhere are so considerate of the liberty and happiness of others now; I really don’t think that is a feature of society some 100 years or so ago.

          • http://deanroberts.net/ Dean Aaron Roberts

            Well I think this is the relativism that is so widely spouted in our times. I think we can agree to disagree on this one 🙂

          • Jack

            And suggesting that we just get rid of old vices and replace them with new ones is not moral relativism? To think that we just find new ways of being as morally ‘wrong’ as ever, even when tending towards the rule of law, levelling playing fields (try being a disabled woman any time before the 1980s), and caring about the poor in an institutionalised way is to suggest that we bend and create morality at will.

          • http://deanroberts.net/ Dean Aaron Roberts

            I’m not suggesting that we do… what I’ve described simply happens, and that’s a fact. We create the means to be better but because it is in our nature to think of ourselves more than others we abuse things made or thought of with good intentions to harm others. Anyway, I think you like arguing too much… you have a lot more time than I do to comment! So I’m leaving it there. I’m sure you’d like the last word, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to warrant you a reply!

          • Jack

            I was just enjoying a discussion. No need to be like that.

          • http://www.ukipforbritain.co.uk/ ukipforbritainwebsite

            Ha ha ha!

          • Jack

            Oh my position is shattered. Don’t you wish you were more of a man than commenting with laughs on the internet? Don’t you wish you’d become more than this? Pathetic isn’t it; is your wife proud of this?

          • http://www.ukipforbritain.co.uk/ ukipforbritainwebsite

            Don’t – now you’re really making me laugh!

        • Coniston

          Read Jonathan Sacks for his understanding of how British society has changed since he was young.

          http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/4049/full

        • David

          You’re in a bubble.

        • Dogsnob

          Dhimmitude, that’s where.

        • Dryermartinithanyours

          We were becoming more civil until the New Religions, as the late Victorians called them, like Marxism, sent us into reverse. We have become profoundly incivil in recent decades and yet liberals still look to WWI and WWII as proof of the reverse, not seeing how much worse were what followed.

        • Hironimous Nostril

          Indeed. Also as we become more educated and intelligent religious faith declines. Perpetuating faith schools is the wanton perpetuation of superstitious ignorance.

        • Andrew Cole

          If you take into account the proportion of those that feel that entitlement and do not work for it, that sit on the rears watching garb all day on the TV or play on their console then their inactivity might well account for the difference we see in terms of violence etc.

          Just don’t venture onto a council estate (I live on one) because you will very very quickly realise that the tolerance and racism is far from improved. I would venture that it is much worse now than it was a decade or 2 ago!!!

          The estates are very close to exploding with hatred where EU migrants have joined the Asian and black communities as targets for other’s anger.

          Should have been inevitable to those who make decisions and focusing continually on minorities while ignoring all the failings of past governments has left masses of uneducated, unskilled people (mainly white.)

          This will continue unabated until we stop hearing policy soundbites focusing on a certain age group, ethnicity or other demographic and start looking at the whole of the population as one. The desire to divide the population up into demographics will always leave some behind.

          This is one of the main problems when reading media or watching TV is that the people who are commentating on most of this stuff have no idea what is really happening anywhere that isn’t high street or suburbia.

        • whiskymike

          More peaceful, you have to be joking.
          There is more carriage of knives, guns and knuckledusters than I ever remeber in my youth
          In the small town where I live in in the West Midlands litter is everywhere, the Police have moved out and opened a new Police Station out in the countryside far away from the people they are policing.
          As fast as shops close they are converted into wine bars or pubs.
          Elderly people are genuinely afraid to go out at night, homeless are sleeping in shop doorways.
          Support for young people somwhat worse for wear after a night out is provided by a handful of Christian supporters who provide tea/coffeee and arrange transport home.
          The relaxation of alcohol controls and unlimited availablity of booze has been a disaster for society.
          My ex died from alcoholism so I do know what I am writing about.

      • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

        Nonsense. Islam isn’t beligerent and uncivilised because of the absence of a Christian rival. It is that way as a kneejerk reaction to science and a secular modernity.

        • http://www.ukipforbritain.co.uk/ ukipforbritainwebsite

          Personally I think it was born that way.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            The Qu’ran is mainly plagiarised from the Christian Old testament ,an ill-carpentered fiction of non-events implausibly described from hearsay long after any actual event took place. Islam is naked because the lack of firm evidence for it’s written foundation leaves the adherents reliant only on faith and ridiculous misinterpretations of these old texts.

          • Autolocus

            The oldest version of the Qu’ran is in Aramaic and not Arabic.
            One can only wonder as to whether or not Mohammad really did exist.

          • DeltaNaught

            There’s a significant body of evidence to prove that he didn’t.

          • Connor Tuvey

            “The bible is mainly plagiarized from old Egyptian mythology, an ill carpeted fiction of non-events implausibly described from hearsay long after any event actually took place. Christianity is naked because the lack of firm evidence for its written foundations leaves the adherents reliant only on faith and ridiculous misinterpretations of these old texts.” just thought id point out the hypocrisy in this comment

          • Paul Wonnacott

            Like all religions it has fallen under the control of people using it for their own aggrandisement, this happened to christianity within 200 years of Christ’s death. It happened to buddhism too which several regimes had tried to Impose on the Chinese throughout history.
            Hinduism never made any claim to be the “Good Guys” in their pantheon of Deities they have Creators, Healers and Destroyers. gods and Goddesses of LOVE, male AND Female. The Hindu Creator and Destroyer is Female, Kali.

        • Tom M

          I didn’t take that interpretation from Bertie’s post. He didn’t imply cause and effect he said that the events were concurrent.
          As far as Islam goes history would confirm that there never has been an epoch when they were at peace with the world (or each other for that matter).

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            You are indeed correct. They are troublesome priests.

          • Autolocus

            That’s the solution! Send them all to Canterbury Cathedral.

      • Muttley

        Unfortunately, I do think the rise of Islam has had a negative effect on the regard for all religion. Whereas we used to uphold the gentle, Christian culture Gove writes of even if we didn’t practise it, political correctness now dictates that it is racist to claim one culture is superior to another and in those circumstances people just say a plague on all your houses, better to oppose religion altogether than have to acknowledge a barbarous creed as equivalent to our own.

      • bockers56

        You mean the Britain of my childhood – one of almost universally ignorant racism and sexism coupled with routine violence, theft and dreadful road carnage just to mention a few

        • rj

          Those ignorant, misogynist, racist traffic accidents, Grr I hate them!

        • Bertie

          If you associated yourself with Football – then yes, I can see how you might have experienced all those. We;ve flipped to the other extremem now, where Political Correctness sees us unable to question any faith/behaviour contrary to our own indigenous one is deemed racist- which is absolutely preposterous and permits those aggressive religions to walk all over us.

          We’re run by a bunch of spineless limp wristed liberals

          who don’t give a damn about the indigenous population.

      • Paul Wonnacott

        The “Christians” in N Ireland set a very good example to all don’t they? Still at it, if not at the same level as the past, never mind all the paedo priests.
        The Australian Aborigines did not have words in it’s language for Liar, Thief, Murderer or Rapist, before the white man came along. A lot of it is desert, but the rest was their Garden of Eden. They didn’t have alcoholics or drug addicts like many have been reduced to having had their “Mojo” Stolen.

        • Bertie

          They’re hardly as bad as the Moslems in the Middle East – you know – the ones that rape under age girls, behad or set fire to others purely based on their religion…

          “The Australian Aborigines did not have words in it’s language for Liar,
          Thief, Murderer or Rapist, before the white man came along.”

          Nor, I suspect did many other nationalities around the world – they’ll most likely have had another word for it, or perhaps it was just accepted as being normal. eg Raping,murdering.

          Dont think you can assign those bad traits just to whitey.

    • Jack

      How has our society declined?

      I think Christianity has been coincidental to improvements in people’s lives rather than incidental to them. Gove’s understanding of world history as “inequality pre-Christianity, total economic parity after” is dishonest, particularly given how unequal many christian societies are today (look at Mexico), and his claim that Wilberforce’s evangelicalism led to the abolition of slavery is, as is common in this article, pointing at something that furnishes the story rather than explains the history. A lot of the values that he claims as Christian are just values that aren’t against Christianity, rather than being particular to that religion.

      • la catholic state

        When I see how paganised our society is becoming….I certainly want a better, more Christian society. Also…when I hear of barbaric practises of other pagan societies….it makes me glad to belong to what’s left of Christian Britian.
        I understand now why immigration tends to be towards Christian societies. The irony is….this immigration will kill Christian society. But no matter what….I want a Catholic state from the ruins.

        • Jack

          How is society becoming more paganised? Can you give me a time in British history that you see as genuinely Christian so I can have a more focussed discussion with you?

          • la catholic state

            Pre-Reformation England.

          • Jack

            Do you think society has regressed since the 15th Century? You are yet to tell me in what way society has become more ‘paganised’.

          • la catholic state

            I think in the 20th century and really since the Frence Revolution, we become pagan barbaric and backwards in our thinking and habits. We deceive ourselves if we think we are better than those who went before. Do remember we have had 2 world wars….in one century alone. Not very humane! And remember the slaughter of the unborn children. Barbaric.

          • Jack

            What is it about society that you think makes us somehow less virtuous (I’m assuming that for you pagan means the same as barbaric) than we were in the 15th Century? You do know what life was like then, don’t you? “We deceive ourselves if we think we are better than those who went before.” and we deceive ourselves if we think we were once amazing and morally superior to the way we are now. I think you should look at violent crime rates throughout history, and really take stock over how safe a woman is walking the streets now compared to 300 years ago, regardless of what instant news coverage can make you assume.

          • la catholic state

            Divorce, fornication, abortion….all the usual. Plus the fact that we are contracepting ourselves to oblivion. And the fact that we can’t seem to educate ourselves or behave honourably or with dignity….our culture is base and coarse. We seek to deny nature itself….chasing after nonsense like gender neutrality. All the signs of stupidity….and gross evil especially in the barbarity of legalised abortion.
            We have stalled artistically, scientifically, culturally, and in the very stuff of our degraded, souls.

          • Jack

            I think we are progressing in art, science, and culture, at at the very least just as fast a rate as ever. I can understand why you think art and science have stalled; it is a common enough fallacy. Looking back, you are aware of the important transformations, the scientific discoveries, and you can plot them on a neat timeline that has been digested for you. When you look at your own snapshot of history things are very different. Had you been a contemporary of Jenner, I am not sure you would have been intimately familiar with his work on vaccination, nor would you have been a recipient of its benefits for some time. Had you been a contemporary of Van Gogh living as a bankers clerk in rural England, I doubt you would have been able to appreciate the emergence of impresisonism. You can now, because global hindsight is a wonderfully empowering thing, and it places your own lifetime into woeful insignificance because it is so short and it is yet to be condensed into a nice history book, principally because we do not yet know how important certain theories will turn out to be. That being said, I think the discovery of the fundamental constituents of matter, the domination of disease, instantaneous communication and landing a probe on a comet are all pretty impressive feats. There are many artists now who I think are better than some of the greats, but it is easy to say art has stalled when you are not deeply immersed in current artistic creation.

            We seek to deny nature itself…you mean like fighting our natural urges to “fornicate”?

          • la catholic state

            I don’t. I think we have stalled on every level….even new scientific theories have stalled. Current scientific advance is based on current knowledge. No new breakthroughs. We are not only stalling…but going backwards….and disappearing thanks to our anti-child, anti-marriage and anti-family individualism and hedonism.
            But mankind will continue….even if Europeans don’t. And do remember….all scientific advance since 1277 (the birth of modern science) came from Christian and Jewish scientists WITHIN Christendom. Scientific truth follows Spiritual truth…2 sides of the same coin.

          • Jack

            “Current scientific advance is based on current knowledge.” – As it has always been and always will be. You don’t just ‘make up’ knowledge.

            “No new breakthroughs.” – Absurd. Cancer treatments, neurscience is rocketing forward, we discovered the particle that gives every other particle mass, we are beginning to scratch the surface of ‘dark energy’, our computing power, which began in 1940s England (long after your reformation cut-off point), is still smashing along at Moore’s prescribed pace. This is recently.

            Artists in the 18th century thought we had stalled artistically as well, so made new movements. Others thought these people were rubbish, so started others. People are doing the same thing now. Do you often go to the studios of up and coming young artists to see where the medium is going? Or do you just make assumptions that every generation makes, owing to their skewed egocentric “we’re special” perspective?

            “And do remember….all scientific advance since 1277 (the birth of modern science) came from Christian and Jewish scientists WITHIN Christendom” – That just isn’t true. Richard Feynman was an atheist. As was Halley, as is Hawkings and Higgs, as was Turing, as was Watson. The list grows. The list of Eastern scientific breakthroughs is just too long to get into.

          • CHBrighton

            How are we ‘contracting ourselves to oblivion’ when the planet is now past the point of no return because there are too many people on it?

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            Who says? We have resources for 20 billion, but population is due to peak at 9.2 billion in 2065.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            The murder rate in London is now one twentieth that of 1700.

        • MichtyMe

          There were once catholic states, the Papal States, until swept away by rebellion and revolution the most wickedly and worst governed, except perhaps, the Tsarist Empire.

          • la catholic state

            The Catholic State is the seed of civilisation. It was not confined to the Papal States.

          • Jack

            Just going to ignore other civilisations that came before Christianity and were never in contact with it then? Sumerians, Greeks, Romans (adopting Christianity at moment of collapse is not the same as owing your formation to it), Egyptians, India and Japan? These weren’t civilisations erupting as a consequence of human nature?

          • MichtyMe

            Jesus spoke “My kingdom is not of this world” why therefor the desire for temporal power?

          • la catholic state

            And we pray….Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven!

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            Orthodox Christianity is the original Christianity. Catholics broke away in 1054.

          • la catholic state

            Nice try. But the Catholic Church is the only Church established by Christ.

          • Paul Baker

            Then why doesn’t the Bible mention Popes or Preists?
            Why didn’t the writers know the world was round?

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            Because they were hocus pocus, snake oil salesmen.

          • la catholic state

            It does. St Peter is the leader on whom the Church is built….and the apostles are the first priests.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            But the only universal “catholic” church is that of Constantinople.The Eastern Orthodox is the original church, in fact the Armenian and Ethiopian churches are oldest of all.

          • la catholic state

            St Peter was made head of the universal Catholic Church…..the one true Church.

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            Catholic means universal. Its just they nicked the name they insigated the Great Schism.

          • Hironimous Nostril

            LOL.

          • Connor Tuvey

            People are the seeds of civilization. Any involvement of Christianity is irrelevant. Plenty of civilizations have thrived for centuries without a single member of their society calling themselves christian.

        • Connor Tuvey

          well our country was pagan long before it was christian and Christianity was itself founded on pagan ideas so i’m not really sure what the issue is here. Pagans weren’t barbarians as you seem to think.

    • Cyril Sneer

      I’m an atheist and I wholeheartedly agree with your post.

    • Coniston

      Is this the same Michael Gove who voted for same-sex ‘marriage’?

      • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

        Same numpty, different day.

    • GraveDave

      Michael should stick to being a crusader for teaching.

    • Suzy

      “I’m not a practising Christian, but I am a cultural Christian” – thank you for showing there is a difference!

    • CommonSense Matters

      No offence BillRees but as I understand it, you cannot be a cultural Christian. http://www.christianityexplored.org/

    • Callan

      And unfortunately, the left wing, attention seeking, happy clappy Archbishop of Canterbury has done nothing to halt the decline in Christianity. Quite the reverse in fact.

    • http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/ StJohnofAustria

      There are several books I can recommend that dispel Anti-Catholic Myths, especially those myths the belief of which is widespread among Catholics themselves :

      1. The first is “The Spanish Inquisition”, By Henry Kamen. This book is written by a Jewish Scholar who has thoroughly researched the History of the Inquisition and states that about 2,000 people were executed. I have heard it said that “millions” were executed by the inquisition, and other exaggerations. The Inquisition was also run by lawyers, not by priests. The book was made into an excellent short documentary called “The Myth of The Spanish Inquisition” featuring Mr. Kamen produced by the BBC, which however has never been re-broadcast and does not appear among the many BBC productions offered for sale on their web site.

      2. My next suggestion is “Inventing the Flat Earth”, by Russell and Noble”. I constantly read that the Church up until recently taught the earth was flat and that the Church fathers tried to prevent Columbus from embarking on his discovery because they believed it was foolish or heretical to undertake such a mission. Actually all educated people, including the Churchmen knew the earth was round and knew this from the time of the Greeks. (Columbus was in fact denied funding for his voyage several times because provided an erroneous number for the circumference of the earth. His potential backers knew he had underestimated the length of the voyage because of the bogus number and made him revise his estimate several times until he provided a realistic circumference and a realistic length of time for the voyage.

      3. Next is “The Galileo Legend as Scientific Folklore”, an essay by Thomas Lessl. This may be hard to find, but it is a devastating rebuttal of the belief rampant among even Catholics that the Church imprisoned Galileo because he dared to suggest he Earth revolved around the sun. This is the most popular and devastating myth about he Church among the educational and cultural elite, and has done much damage. It deserves to be rebutted at every opportunity. Lessl explains that Galileo was censured by the Pope because he refused to specify that his theory was “suppositional”, yet Galileo insited that it was a fact, but was unable to provide proof. The theory was not proven until over 100 years later.

      The important point about the Galileo affair is that the Church did not make any Scientific pronouncements regarding the Heliocentric theory, but was making an ethical pronouncement saying that it would not permit textbooks to be published which stated unproven theories as fact. Yes. Galileo was right, but he could not prove it at the time. The takeaway from this affair should be not only is the myth wrong but that it was wise and sensible to require theories be stated as such and not as proven fact when they are not. I leave it to the reader to think if there are any scientific theories that hold sway over our culture today that have not been proven but are causing tremendous cultural damage and economic chaos. (I can think of a whole bunch)

      4. My next favorite is “The Victory of Reason” by Rodney Stark, who describes most of the anti religious myths as anti-Catholic Protestant prejudice. He is not a Catholic, and describes how the Church singlehandedly created the concepts of universal education, charity and most of the other benefits of civilization. He describes how Civilization was essentially created by the Church. (One of my favorite books and I am proud to say that my review is listed as one of the most helpful on Amazon.)

      5. Also high on my list is “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization” by Thomas Woods. Professor Woods chronicles the numerous scientific and cultural developments fostered by the church during the so-called “Dark Ages”. A very enlightening book by one of the most intelligent and prolific authors alive today, also a convert to the One, True Faith.
      6. The Book “Human Accomplishment” by Charles Murray uses statistical analysis to review all of the major encyclopedias in the world from all cultures to determine where the best of human accomplishment have occurred in all fields. The overwhelming consensus is that over 90% of human accomplishment occurred in the Christian West. (Before your opposition tells you that the writer must be biased in favor of Christianity you can point out that Mr. Murray is a Buddhist)

      7. Lastly, and most important, for those with the intellectual courage to do so, I suggest a close examination of what I believe to be the most dangerous and persistent of all myths, the theory of evolution. This theory has done more damage to the Church and to religion and culture in general than any other, and therefore deserves the highest level of scrutiny and the most critical examination. Due to limited space and time, I will include the titles only of those books which are part of my personal library, and which I have read. There are many more besides mine which critically examine Darwinism and provide support for the increasingly plausible theory of Intelligent Design.
      Good luck, and never be afraid to confront the opposition. It’s only your Church you are defending. It’s not like you’re facing the type of opposition the martyrs were….at least not yet.

      Evolution –
      A Theory in Crisis

      Darwin on
      Trial

      Of Pandas
      and People

      Icons of Evolution

      Doubts about
      Darwin

      Icons of
      Evolution

      The Creation
      Hypothesis

      Nature’s IQ

      Darwin’s
      Black Box

      The Edge of
      Evolution

      Reason in
      The Balance

      What Darwin
      Didn’t Know

      The Dawkins
      Delusion

      The Naked
      Emperor

      Darwin’s
      Nemesis

      Darwin
      Strikes Back

      Darwin’s
      Racists

      Intelligent
      Design

      The Greatest
      Hoax on Earth

      Defeating
      Darwinism

      The Deniable
      Darwin

      Shattering
      the Myths of Darwinsim

      The Darwin
      Myth

      The Devil’s
      delusion

      Why is a Fly
      Not A Horse?

      The
      Autobiography of Darwin

      Signature in
      the Cell

      Darwin’s
      Doubt

      Uncommon
      Dissent

      The
      Privileged Planet

    • funkg

      Saying your a ‘cultural Christian’ is a bit like saying you support a political party, yet never vote. The Christian Church will continue to crumble if individuals such as yourself continue to nurse hangovers on a Sunday morning, rather than bother to attend a Church. Why not find a service this Easter at a Church that suits you?

    • JDS

      What decline is that Bill? The decline of good ole social values like male dominance, slavery, and discrimination against homosexuals? I would argue it is only the rise of those who shirk off religious bondage that has actually made our society a better place to live in (and I guarantee you if you went back 100 years with the same values you claim to have now you would not have liked the world very much). The claim that Christians have somehow made this world better on their own is ridiculous to say the least. This article is foolish and it’s sad that it’s coming out of a man who is supposed to represent education and progress.

    • Tomicki

      Christianity never declined or decayed.

      • cmflynn

        The Catholic Church never declines or decays but heresies do. If you see a group calling itself part of the Christian Church yet declining or decaying you will not have far to look to find the heresies that are the cause. Example: The C of E but also, sadly the ‘Catholic’ Church in the UK led by its mostly heretical bishops.

    • Benjamin O’Donnell

      “Decline in our society”? The decline in Christianity in the UK, Canada and Australia has coincided with a precipitous drop in the rates of crime & violence in those countries, greater equality for ethnic minorities, woman and LGBTI people, and a truly astonishing rise in general wealth…

      • Leo Marconel

        “The decline in Christianity in the UK, Canada and Australia has
        coincided with a precipitous drop in the rates of crime & violence
        in those countries”

        Uhhh well no actually the reverse happened.

        Crime rates increased from the 40s and 50s on. Meanwhile Christianity became less popular.

        Sorry.

        • Benjamin O’Donnell

          Wrong again. The biggest drop in Chtistian belief/identification in Britain & Australia has happened in the last two decades, a period that has also seen a steady decline in the crime rate in both countries. Correlation is not causation, so I make no claim there. But to say the fall in Christianity has coincided with a rise in crime is the precise opposite of the truth.

    • ApplyUrBrain

      BillRees, you say “The decline of Christianity has unfortunately mirrored the decline in our society.”

      Shouldn’t that tell you something???

    • http://paulonbooks.blogspot.co.uk/ PaulOnBooks

      The decline of Christians, certainly – mealy-mouthed, uncharitable, selfish, unprepared to speak and act according to the faith they profess.

  • JSC

    The problem for Christianity is that it has become something of a doormat for other faiths. Contrary to popular wisdom it’s not atheists or agnostics that are endangering the existence of Christianity. Though you might get a few sneers and snide remarks from those groups of people, they’re generally happy to live and let live. It’s certain foreign religions who are much more strident and forthright about what they believe and the consequences to your health should you interfere with them, that are sucking up the believers. People are drawn to that which they view as strong, powerful, authentic and authoritative.
    The irony being that such competing faiths are actively defended by Christians who, rather than state that their beliefs are the true ones, view all faiths as being as true as their own beliefs – equally valid, who hold their hands up and say “we can’t judge” and admit defeat before the battle started. They consider faith good in itself; all you need is faith, preferably Christian, but any will suffice. They believe that because another person has faith in a holy book, that book must by definition contain all of the same kinds of moral messages that theirs does – even when presented with evidence it does not.
    And, after conceding defeat to their spiritual competitors, they suck up their fallacious propaganda that the problem is “the non-believers”, totally oblivious to the fact that when they say that they don’t just mean atheists and agnostics, but Christians too.

    • Donafugata

      Very true.

      Some churchmen and politicians seem to think that Islam is just as harmless as Christianity but there is a huge difference.

      Christianity is an extremely passive, tolerant and forgiving religion whereas Islam has been about militancy, conquest and supremacy from the very beginning.

      When Islam comes to occupy a Christian continent it is only a matter of time and numbers before it starts to assert itself and dominate the host culture.

  • Tom Thumb

    As a practising Christian (and after many years of practice, I’m not great at it), I am saddened by and despairing of much that is said and done across the world in the name of the Church and of Jesus. No wonder some people are deeply hostile and critical of Christianity and Christians. At the same time I am immensely heartened by the huge amount of good that is done by Christians motivated by their faith and their commitment to the cause – and yes I am also fully aware that much good is done by those of other faiths, those of no faith and those – the majority of people – who have a muddled mix of many things by which they live their lives by. All that said, there is a prevailing sentiment amongst many opinion formers and people of influence which treats all religious faith as essentially irrational and frequently immoral. Whilst it is true that in the (generally) liberal West (unlike in many other centrally controlled states), negative treatment of those with religious believers is fairly low level there is a growing pressure to abolish from the public square all discourse and contribution which has a world view which is not essential materialistic (in the pure sense of that word not the consumerist sense). And having succeeded in banishing it from schools, universities, hospitals, parliament and councils, how long will it be before parents who want their children to grow up in a future of faith are deemed to be intellectual child-abusers denying their offspring the human right not to be sullied with outmoded, irrational and potential divisive and dangerous beliefs? As in all major divides whether intellectual, political, religious or territorial it is much more comforting and reassuring to be able to demonise those on the other side of the divide. It is true of people of faith: it is equally true of those whose faith is in marxism, liberal humanism or a post-modern smorgasbord. For evidence see posts to this article.

  • Doctor Crackles

    Jesus died to save sinners; does Gove or Cameron or indeed anyone in government understand this?

    We, in our arrogance we have abolished sin and wrong doing. Therefore, we despise those who still do and absolutely hate this Jesus Christ for his presumptuous insolence.

    • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

      There is only scant evidence that Jesus Christ even existed. He is largely an invention of fanatics who lived 400 years later.

      • Doctor Crackles

        Dear Mythicist,

        Please provide proof of your assertion.

        Thank you,

        DC

        • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

          It is in god Is Not Great by Hitchens, but I lent my copy to a fellow atheist.

      • Alex Churchill

        We have pieces of copies of the Gospels, recognisably the same text that modern New Testaments are translated from, dating back to the second centuries.

        • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

          Do we really. Some bits of old story from 170 years he supposedly died.

          • Alex Churchill

            Oh come on. Even a little research would show scholars have fragments of most New Testament books from the second century. Even Wikipedia, which is generally pretty hostile to Christianity, admits that almost all the New Testament is attested no later than 200 AD with many manuscripts from around 125-150 AD, and admits the scholarly consensus date of authorship is 50-70 AD for most of them. “Some bits of old story” – enough to be sure that the New Testament we read today is overwhelmingly the same as was around 120 years after Jesus.

            Now yes, the theology and interpretation of the New Testament is based on the theology and interpretation of assorted generations of church fathers and church councils… who I guess you could call “fanatics” if you want, but not in a way that’d be recognised as an insult 🙂

  • Dale

    Religion contributes nothing that cannot be achieved by purely secular means.

    • Richard Baranov

      That is a nonsense statement. Name one civilization that has not been built on a religion?

      • Dale

        The United States.

        • Mark

          You cannot be serious.

          • Dale

            The disestablishment of religion is literally the first thing covered by the Bill of Rights, “Prohibits the making of any law respecting the establishment of religion”.

      • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

        Modern Japan.

  • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

    “Despite a tidal wave of prejudice and negativity, faith remains the foundation of our civilisation”

    Jesus’ presence on Earth wasn’t to augment faith. He was God, in corporeal form, on Earth, hence Jesus was proof of God’s existence.

    The following is a reply to John Haggerty taken from The Spectator article ‘Richard Dawkins interview: ‘I have a certain love for the Anglican tradition” (14 September 2013)

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9018391/interview-richard-dawkins-on-what-hed-miss-if-christianity-vanished/#comment-1940822067

    “I can see why there was a dearth of Roman/Jewish literature on Jesus.”

    They couldn’t write about Jesus because to do so would have been politically impossible, for obvious reasons.

    “Do you think there would have been records of his trial?”

    Of course! Tiberius would have wanted the transcript, since the Emperor was already appraised of Jesus and why Rome was doing nothing to charge Jesus and followers with sedition, especially as Jesus’ following was increasing and Pilate was doing nothing to end the seditious crowds Jesus and disciples were causing.

    “Roman records and Jewish records?”

    Since there was no trial of Jesus by the Jewish authorities (there were three Q&A sessions to determine if Jesus was really signaling that it was time for Him to die), then there are no Jewish judicial records.

    “Would the Jewish records have all been lost with the destruction of Jerusalem?”

    No, those records were immediately secured by the Romans.*

    “Do any of the later fathers of the church touch on this?”

    None, because they locked themselves into a three-hundred year lie where they had to provide a laughable interpretation of the Gospels/Acts narratives, because to do otherwise would have compelled Rome to move against them for political/social reasons. Both sides, for political/social reasons, had to keep their silence on what the Romans (and Jews) really knew about Jesus.

    Here’s another “discovery” I made in the last two months…

    When Paul & Peter (and their disciples) are spreading the Word throughout the Eastern Roman Empire (outside the Levant), once again Roman governors refuse to arrest and execute them for sedition, thought they attract and incite unrest among large crowds!

    Professor Candida Moss says (“The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom”):

    ‘If we give any credence to the apocryphal acts and believe that the apostles attracted large crowds, then we have to concede that the apostles might have been viewed as revolutionaries. If they were arrested, then the charges levied against them may have been insurgency or inciting unrest among the people. As the death of Jesus shows, Romans had no problems executing people who caused trouble or could potentially start a rebellion. They were taking elementary precautions.’ (p. 137).

    I’m not sure why Professor Moss points a finger at only the apocryphal acts, since Acts itself has the apostles attracting and inciting unrest among large crowds. Notice too that the theologian Moss has completely missed that Rome refused to not only arrest Jesus, but also arrest His disciples even after His execution! Talk about being blindly conditioned to the old interpretation of the New Testament texts!

    “I am not even remotely gnostic but I like reading Gnostic literature.”

    My “discoveries” (which were assisted by the Holy Spirit, no doubt, since they came too quickly over a period of only two years)

    will allow one to critique the Gnostics, so read away and become more familiar with them.

    By the way, I noticed that this article is eighteen months old, so here’s an updated and expanded version on my research (I’m a political scientist, and a political scientist’s perspective is critical for the proper analysis of the Gospels/Acts texts)…

    Did Pilate execute Jesus when Jesus & disciples came into Pilate’s province of Judea? No, in fact for approximately three years Pilate is turning a blind eye to Jesus & disciples, who commit what Rome called sedition by attracting large crowds. That’s why John the Baptist & disciples stayed on the other side of the Jordan River, in Herod Antipas’ Perea, knowing what would immediately happen to him if he and disciples crossed the river into Judea. Did the Jewish authorities execute Jesus & disciples for gross blasphemy once Jesus’ ministry began? No. In fact, the Jewish authorities in Judea waited until Jesus gave the sign that He was ready to die, that sign being the provocative entry into Jerusalem with the mob, an act that Pilate was in Jerusalem to stop if it should occur; Roman governors were required to be in Jerusalem the week before Passover to ensure no false claimant to being the Messiah took place, yet Pilate once again turns a blind eye to Jesus and the mob entering Jerusalem!(1)

    In John 11 chief priest Caiaphas admits that Jesus is the Messiah, and that His death must come at the right time, otherwise Judea will be destroyed…

    “51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.”

    How about that! You never noticed that passage before, huh?

    And when Jesus is arrested in the garden of Gethsemane, are His disciples arrested with Him? Inexplicably no! Jesus’ disciples are left unmolested by the Temple officials and soldiers because the Jewish authorities’ motive for arresting Jesus is to fulfill Jesus’ mission that He should die, not to stop Jesus’ message. If the intent of the Jewish officials was to bring to an end, belatedly, the Jesus heresies then naturally the disciples would have been arrested and executed along with Jesus.

    In fact, when the Temple soldiers and officials enter the garden looking for Jesus, they immediately fall to the ground out of fear after Jesus approaches them and identifies Himself…

    John 18:

    “2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

    4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”

    5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

    “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

    7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”

    “Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.

    8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”’

    See where Jesus says, “I have not lost one of those you gave me”? You see, Jesus and the twelve disciples were supposed to have been put to death three years earlier, but because everyone knew Jesus to be the Messiah, no one dared to touch Him or His disciples.

    Now, after Jesus’ resurrection the next nine Roman governors of Judea (until 66 AD, the Jewish Revolt) are following Pilate’s stand down policy towards the Jesus Sect community, where Jesus’ apostles are still attracting large crowds and causing riots in the Temple. These atypical behaviors by ten Roman governors informs us that the behaviors weren’t individual ad hoc behaviors, but policy set by the emperor in Rome!

    What’s the reaction of the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem to Jesus’ apostles causing problems in the Temple? Soon after Jesus’ resurrection they arrest the apostles twice (the first arrest is Peter and John; the second arrest is all the apostles) and tell them to stop taking about Jesus, and let them go! In fact, the only person persecuting(2) the followers of Jesus is Paul, but Paul’s superiors won’t allow Paul to kill anyone; the Jewish authorities refuse to assist Paul with the ultimate weapon at their disposal, refusing to ask the Roman governor that a Sanhedrin be allowed to form in order to adjudicate Jesus’ followers.(3) Paul is only given the authority arrest and whip Jesus followers, but this doesn’t last long as we know, because the Sanhedrin sends Paul off on a red herring to Damascus, where Paul is confronted by Jesus, and is rebuked. Notice: Jesus NEVER rebukes the Roman authorities or the Jewish authorities for persecuting His followers, only Paul, because it’s only Paul who is persecuting Jesus’ followers! If the Roman and Jewish authorities were persecuting Jesus’ followers, Jesus would have rebuked them too, but since they weren’t persecuting Jesus’ followers, there was no need to rebuke them.(4)

    In fact, when Paul and Peter, and their disciples, are roaming the eastern Roman Empire (outside of the Levant) they too are attracting large crowds, and what are the Roman governors doing about this sedition? Nothing. As with the ten Roman governors of Judea, they too refuse to immediately arrest Paul and Peter (and their disciples), then adjudicating and executing them for sedition.

    I made the above discoveries over the last three years, but to Roman subjects of the day they would have already known this material, because every Roman subject knew what the penalty was for attracting large crowds, hence any narrative that came their way that said otherwise would be known to be a forgery, UNLESS already known to be true, and this is the greatest part of my discovery–Roman subjects accepted the Gospels/Acts narratives because they knew them to be true; Jesus was already well known throughout the Roman Empire before Paul traveled there, ministering, otherwise Paul’s stories (and Peter’s) would have been known to be badly constructed forgeries, and early Christianity would have imploded.

    (1)To ensure Jesus was indeed signaling it was time for Him to die, an ad hoc “Sanhedrin” conducted three night time Q&A sessions with Jesus (not trails, as under the Law of Moses trials can only take place during daylight hours, thereby also precluding any possibility of punishment, and Roman administration of Judea required the Roman governor giving his permission for the opening of a proper Sanhedrin assembly). Jesus’ silence informed the ad hoc assembly that Jesus was indeed ready to die.

    (2)’Persecution’ is a word Christianity has erred in using when referencing the punishments Rome administered to the early Church. The proper word is ‘prosecution’, since it was illegal for any Roman subject to (1) attract large crowds; and (2) tell others not to join the Roman military. Regarding the Jewish authorities in Judea and Galilee, it was a crime to speak blasphemies, and anyone who did was not persecuted, but prosecuted under the Law of Moses.

    (3)One or two Passovers after Jesus’ resurrection, while Paul was still a student, Stephen bumped into a gathering of foreign Jews in the Temple. The foreigners are shocked by Stephen’s words and immediately go to the Jewish authorities and direct their attention to Stephen, asking why Stephen is still alive after committing such gross blasphemy. The Temple authorities’ hands are now tied. They have no choice but to request of the Roman governor that they be allowed to form a Sanhedrin in order to adjudicate Stephen, where upon Stephen is tried, convicted and executed under the Law of Moses.

    (4)For political reasons that are obvious, neither Roman or Jewish authorities could communicate to each other who they knew Jesus to be, hence the silence of this fact in the Gospels/Acts narratives. It should also be noted that God waited for the existence of the Roman Empire before sending Jesus, since God knew that the Jewish authorities would never go along with a plan that had them murdering the Messiah. That disagreeable action would be handled by the Romans, specifically Pilate, who tried his best to get Jesus off his judicial docket, but the unofficial Sanhedrin wouldn’t release Pilate from his responsibility to uphold Roman laws of sedition.

    Happy Easter!

    Addendum

    Since I mention Josephus below (in the footnotes), we are in a position to clarify an issue that has perplexed New Testament scholarship for close to a century now, and that is the Testimonium Flavianum, the name given to the passage found in Book 18, Chapter 3, 3 of the “Antiquities of the Jews”, in which the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus describes the condemnation and crucifixion of Jesus at the hands of the Roman authorities, specifically referring to Jesus with the following, “He was [the] Christ.”

    It is this reference to Jesus as being “the Christ” (Messiah) that troubles New Testament scholars since we are told by the early Church Father Origen in his Commentary on Matthew (Book X, Chapter 17) that Josephus did not accept Jesus as Christ. Well, as my research above proves, Jewish officials in Judea and elsewhere KNEW Jesus to be the Messiah, though for political reasons kept that knowledge close to themselves.

    Josephus’ family was wealthy, and his his father came from the priestly order of the Jehoiarib, which was the first of the 24 orders of priests in the Temple in Jerusalem. Therefore, Josephus would have been well aware of the intelligence reports the Sanhedrin received concerning Jesus’ true nature, hence there would be no conflict with Josephus not only accepting Jesus as the Messiah, but knowing Jesus is the Messiah. Notice Origen’s “naivete” when he says that Josephus did not accept Jesus as the Christ. As if Josephus could publicly admit it if he did accept Jesus as the Messiah!

    —————————-

    *The destruction of the Temple is a fascinating topic of subterfuge by Rome. Before the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem, General Titus told his generals that the Temple wasn’t to be touched, according to Josephus, which one would expect since Rome wouldn’t want to fulfill Jesus’ prediction that the Temple would be destroyed. However the later Christian chronicler Sulpicius Severusan claims that Titus favoured the destruction of the Temple (that is, had orders from the Emperor to destroy the Temple), meaning Titus’ order to his generals was a subterfuge. This is borne out by the play acting of Titus standing, with a few fellow officers, at the main entrance to the Temple, attempting to block the Roman soldiers who had “mutinied” and are going to tear down every stone from the Temple. Firstly, this is pure theater being performed by Titus and officers on the steps of the Temple (they’re going to give their lives for the Temple!); and secondly, no Roman Legion would mutiny during an actual campaign!

    Recall that inexplicably Rome, at the order of Nero, was antagonizing Jewish religious sensibilities in Judea, which caused the Jewish revolt. Why would Rome want to cause chaos and war in Judea? Because Nero was making atonement to the Jewish deity for his killing of Christians, and what better atonement then to punish the people erroneously labelled the ‘killers of Christ’–the Jews of Judea.

    ‘Causes of the War Against the Romans

    The Jewish Revolt of 66 to 70 AD/CE had its origin in several different troubles identified by Josephus. At various points in his work he specifically names different events as “the” cause of the war, either as an immediate trigger or as a fundamental motive. These include:

    the involvement of governor Albinus with criminal gangs

    the removal of rights of Jews in Caesarea

    the pollution of the synagogue of Caesarea

    the murder of High Priest Jonathan

    the murder of High Priest Ananias

    the refusal to sacrifice to the Emperor [after the Governor inexplicably refused to take down pagan symbols near the synagogue]…’

    http://www.josephus.org/causesOfWar.htm

    There is no question that Nero was goading the Jews of Judea into rebellion. Notice that Nero has ordered his governors in Judea to kill two High Priests(!) in Judea, but has ordered those governors not to touch one Jesus Sect follower there.

    • doctorseraphicus

      Dean, That’s great but this is a comment section which is not really the place for an entire book.

      • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

        “Dean, That’s great but this is a comment section which is not really the place for an entire book.”

        Says the Marxist operative, shocked by these new discoveries. What book would you be referring to, Comrade?

        • doctorseraphicus

          The “book” I was referring to, Dean, was the post you made. Honestly, you don’t expect anyone to trawl through all of that do you? So, no-one is going to see your exciting new discoveries.

          Anyway, what is a “Marxist operative” when it’s at home?

          Happy Easter by the way.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “The “book” I was referring to, Dean, was the post you made.”

            I know very well what you were referring to, Comrade. And my comment is amazingly brief considering the scope and ramifications of the discoveries it covers. Your suggestion on brevity would consign the comment to slogans, where the reader is left with whispers of something, but no clue as to what that something is.

            And what’s with the “Happy Easter”, Comrade?

          • doctorseraphicus

            You make a reasonable point: comments can sometimes be longer than a mere throwaway remark. But, mega biblion mega kakon, as they used to say, and the same, by and large goes for comments. So write a book or write a paper in the Scandinavian Journal of Inconspicuity: whatever, just publish your findings. Look, you went to all the trouble to write that stuff. You have had a barney with IlPugliese above: referred him (Il being masculine) to your comment which I daresay he ignored. So you are hiding your light under a bushel and casting your pearls before swine. Oink bloody oink.

            Happy Easter. Yeah. Well, had I been Orthodox (why DID Putin come into the discussion?) I’d have wished you a very happy great and holy Pascha, the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, but I am not and that is rather wordy so Easter (yes, I know, some pagan Germanic goddess, Eostre or whoever) will have to do.

  • ilPugliese

    There’s no arguing with a person of faith. They are always right because their views are based on fantasy and not logic. Christians achieved a lot, not because they were Christian, but because they were intelligent. And woe betide anyone who did not pay lip service to the church in those days.

    • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

      “Christians achieved a lot, not because they were Christian, but because they were intelligent.”

      You conflate faith with Christianity and the Jesus Sect! There was no Christianity when Rome refused, on its own prerogative, to execute Jesus and followers for sedition. And when goaded into executing Jesus, Rome then proceeded to PROTECT Jesus’ followers. That Christians in latter generations turned to savage behaviors towards other groups has no bearing on the origins of Christianity, and who the Romans and Jews knew Jesus to be.

      For the facts on the origins of Christianity, see my comment below, which presents the discoveries I’ve made on this subject over the last three years…

      • ilPugliese

        I have no idea what point you are making in relation to what I said.

        • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

          “I have no idea what point you are making in relation to what I said.”

          I’m not surprised by that admission, since you conflated faith with Christianity! Read my comment below, and all will be made clear to you…

          • ilPugliese

            Hopeless. As I said, there’s no arguing with a person of faith.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “Hopeless. As I said, there’s no arguing with a person of faith.”

            Since pagan Roman Emperors/governors refused to execute Jesus and followers for sedition,* and Roman subjects outside the Levant accepted a religion they KNEW to be laughably false, we have proof that Roman subjects outside the Levant knew the Gospels/Acts narratives to be true, therefore why the otherwise fake Christian religion was accepted and prevailed.

            You see, no one accepts a religion they know to be false, unless it’s known to be true! It can’t be made any simpler.

            Show me the “faith” in the above.
            ————————-
            *Roman agents were watching Jesus and followers, which is why they knew Jesus was who He claimed to be and left Him alone though He was committing sedition, and why other false Messiahs (or anyone who attracted crowds) was executed for sedition.

          • ilPugliese

            What does this have to do with “the kind of people who built our civilisation, founded our democracies, developed our modern ideas of rights and justice, ended slavery, established universal education”?

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “What does this have to do with “the kind of people who built our civilisation, founded our democracies,
            developed our modern ideas of rights and justice, ended slavery,
            established universal education”?”

            It has to do with….

            “There’s no arguing with a person of faith. They are always right because their views are based on fantasy and not logic.”

            Now cease with the obvious distractions and answer ‘Show me the “faith” in the above.’ It should be very easy for you illustrate the fantasies I’ve discovered the last three years, if they are fantasies.

          • ilPugliese

            The faith is that you have no idea what Romans thought or why they did things or even if they did things. And if a tribe under your mandate believes in some fantasy, then you might as well humour it to get the best out of them.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “The faith is that you have no idea what Romans thought or why they did things or even if they did things.”

            Yes we do. We know that Rome immediately executed anyone who committed sedition, including any followers. Your ignorance of this historical fact, and what it proves concerning Jesus, is what motivates your continued belligerence on this subject. Or have you another agenda? Are you a Marxist whose been taken aback by my discoveries?

            If you’re genuine in your ignorance, go question a professor that specializes in the Roman Empire. Ask the professor what happened to anyone who attracted large crowds.

          • ilPugliese

            We don’t KNOW. Historians may have written stuff down, but they could have all sorts of motives and distortions of language.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “We don’t KNOW. Historians may have written stuff down, but they could have all sorts of motives and distortions of language.”

            What are you talking about “historians”? I’m referring to Roman administration of its subjects. Where did you go to school?

          • ilPugliese

            But how do you know about the details of Roman administration?

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “But how do you know about the details of Roman administration?”

            Are you serious? From the Romans themselves; and from friends of the Romans, including Josephus…

            The Jewish historian Josephus accounts as to what immediately happened to any person attracting large crowds and claiming to perform miracles in Roman Judea:

            Between 44 and 46 CE, one Theudas caused some consternation with what may have been a claim to be the Messiah:

            “It came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea, that a certain charlatan, whose name was Theudas, persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it. Many were deluded by his words. However, Fadus did not permit them to make any advantage of his wild attempt, but sent a troop of horsemen out against them. After falling upon them unexpectedly, they slew many of them, and took many of them alive. They also took Theudas alive, cut off his head, and carried it to Jerusalem.” — [(Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.97-98]

            and

            The Roman governor Festus, who was -according to recent research- in office from 58 until 60 CE, was confronted with another “rebel”:

            “Festus sent forces, both horsemen and footmen, to fall upon those that had been seduced by a certain impostor, who promised them deliverance and freedom from the miseries they were under, if they would but follow him as far as the wilderness. Accordingly, those forces that were sent destroyed both him that had deluded them, and those that were his followers also.” — [Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.188]

            Yet ten Roman governors of Judea refused to touch Jesus and/or followers, where in the case of Jesus, the Sanhedrin were forced into bringing Jesus to the Roman governor for adjudication!

          • ilPugliese

            Those Romans are all dead Dean. It sounds like you’re quoting from the historians, of whom you have not apparently heard yet you also use the word. All the statements you make, you have taken on faith. As I said initially, hopeless.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

            “Those Romans are all dead Dean.”

            No kidding! Ah, you are a Marxist operative!

    • Politically__Incorrect

      “There’s no arguing with a person of faith”

      What you mean is you can’t persuade them embrace unbelief? How inconsiderate of them!

      • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

        “What you mean is you can’t persuade them embrace unbelief?”

        When it comes to Jesus and His followers, “belief” is a moot point when the proper political analysis is applied to the Gospels/Acts texts. The proper word is “fact”.

      • ilPugliese

        It’s quite deliberate of them! They know that their imaginary concepts will not stand up to analysis and reason.

  • BT Hathaway

    We can know and establish justice without faith (Abraham Lincoln was an atheist and yet felt compelled to free slaves), but faith has often led us far from justice.

    Faith is at best an embellishment to the bedrock of morality. Common good, justice and peaceful society can and do happen without the magical expectations surrounding deities.

    • https://sites.google.com/site/deanjackson60/home Dean Jackson

      “Abraham Lincoln was an atheist”

      In fact Lincoln was a “Marxist”, and freeing the slaves would maximize the labor surplus value of slaves, which would speed the TENDENCY for the arrival of the Communist Commonweal. The failed socialist inspired and controlled pan-European revolutions that swept the continent in 1848 thought Marxists and socialists a powerful lesson, that lesson being they couldn’t win overtly, so they adopted the tactic of infiltration of the West’s political parties/institutions. In the case of the United States, while we don’t know when exactly the Democratic Party was co-opted by Marxists, thanks to the peculiar historical nature surrounding the founding of the Republican Party, we do know when exactly the party of Lincoln was co-opted.

      The following incomplete list identifies Marxists/socialists who after the failed 1848 revolution in Germany came to the United States, subsequently infiltrating the embryonic Republican Party, many forming voluntary Germanic Union Armies and becoming General Officers themselves within the Union Army, such as…

      (1) Brigadier General Joseph Weydemeyer of the Union Army was a close friend of Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels in the London Communist League (Assistant Secretary of War Charles A. Dana, close friend of Marx, published with Joseph Weydemyer a number of Communist journals and, also “The Communist Manifesto,” commissioned by Karl Marx. As a member of the Communist/Socialist Fourier Society in America, Dana was well acquainted with Marx and Marx’s colleague in Communism, Fredrick Engels. Dana, also, was a friend of all Marxists in the Republican Party, offering assistance to them almost upon their arrival on the American continent.);

      (2) Brigadier General Louis Blenker, Union Army—radical socialist/Communist from Germany—was remarkably successful in encouraging German immigrants to join the Union Army and the Republican Party;

      (3) Major General August Willich—often called “The Reddest of the Red ‘48ers” was a member of the London Communist League with Karl Marx and Fredrick Engles. Before seeking refuge in the U.S. Willich was a personal acquaintance of Karl Marx;

      (4) Major Robert Rosa, of the Union Army, was a proud member of the New York Communist Club;

      (5) Brigadier General Carl Schurz –as a young socialist, was noted for helping Gottfried Kinkel of Bonn escape from Spandau while imprisoned there for his socialist activities in the ’48 Revolts. Schurz came to America in 1848. He was a forty-eighter who became very active in the development of the Republican Party and in politics. He was given a high position by Lincoln in the Union Army;

      (6) Brigadier General Alexander Von Schimmelfenning, after the failed revolution in Germany he fled to Switzerland, then traveled to London where he became a part of the German ‘democratic movement’, a sectarian group within the Communist League led by Karl Schapper and August Willich. In 1854, Schimmelfennig emigrated to the United States and worked in the War Department, where he maintained his association with the Forty-Eighters;

      (7) Major General Franz Siegel, thought to be one of Lincoln’s most controversial and the poorest of his generals;

      (8) Commander Friedrich Karl Franz Hecker, (exact military title not known) known as “Red” and “Flagrant Friedrich.” Educated in Germany, received his doctor of law degree in Munich. He was expelled from Prussia. Arriving in the U.S., he took part in the creation of the Republican Party, encouraged the proliferation of German newspapers carrying the Socialist propaganda, aided in the election of Lincoln, and propagandized heavily among German immigrants for volunteers for the Union Army. He was named Commander of a regiment he raised of Germans;

      (9) General John C. Fremont was noted for his close association with all of the socialist/communists whom Lincoln placed in positions of command in his army. Fremont was the first Republican candidate for president. He was considered to be the “darling” of the most radical socialists. His chief of staff, early in the war, was Hungarian socialist revolutionary;

      (10) Brevet Major General Frederick Charles Salomon, one of a group of four radical socialist brothers, with highly similar names– three of whom were in the group of Socialist 1848ers. Frederick began his career in the Union Army as a Captain in MO, wound up as a Colonel in the Ninth Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment, then a brigadier general and a brevet major general;

      11. Brevetted Brigadier General Charles E. Salomon, also started his American military career with a bunch of MO volunteers. Born in Prussia, he, also, was one of the radical socialists arriving in the U.S. after the 1848 Socialist uprising failure and was a brother to Frederick Charles;

      12. Governor Edward Salomon, a third Salomon brother, also born in Prussia, did not do military service, but ran for political office in Wisconsin, was elected lieutenant governor, becoming Governor of Wisconsin when the elected Governor “drowned”; and

      13. Colonel Fritz Anneke/Annecke was a Forty-eighter, with a strong leftward tilt. He was a Communist League member and a Baden Revolt veteran…the list goes on…

  • victor67

    Tories talking about Christianity while shafting the poor ,disabled and mentally ill.
    The only Christianity worth taking seriously was Liberation theology which the last Pope crushed.
    ” If I feed the poor they call me a saint. If I ask why they are poor the condemn me as a Communist”
    Helder Camara

  • Rowland Nelken

    I experienced two extremes of England’s Christianity, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of England. The JWs win hands down for bibliolatry, self righteousness and money grubbing. The C. of E. is great as a patron of the arts, education and charities. The JWs are a cruel, self serving little cult and their achievements amount to no more than a string of duff prophecies about the date for Armageddon when their loving god is set to execute the bulk of humanity for the capital crime of not being of their number. While waiting for this End of Days they have built up a global publishing and property corporation, protected paedophiles via a weird old law dug out from the Book of Deuteronomy, broken families through the shunning of apostates, diminished countless lives through frowning on higher education and condemned thousands to death through the ban on blood transfusion. I was lucky. I merely suffered nightmares about Armageddon slaughtering all my non JW friends and family.

    The Church of England is a different universe entirely. It is largely benign, involved with the world of the here and now, as opposed to some mythical post Armageddon paradise, controls some excellent schools, has a magnificent musical tradition and is the custodian of some superb buildings. Sure, the Bible, our only source of info. about Christianity’s founder and his alleged teachings, figures in its goings on, is still visible as a ceremonial prop (as opposed to its verses being used to back up every assertion in speech and print made at a Kingdom Hall of JWs), but its teachings, fortunately, are all but ignored. Hence we have women clergy, a warm welcome to gays and an absence of doctrinaire certainty. It is commendable, albeit ironic, that the anti slavery movement, and later the anti apartheid movement, had such strong Christian backing. The Bible, after all, condones slavery. The great and consuming hope of the New Testament writers, Jesus’ 2nd coming and the ushering in of the Kingdom (whatever that is) barely gets a thought or a mention outside some ritual chanting. It is to be hoped that the positive spinoffs of Christianity will continue. It is time, however, for that weird old Bible, (and all that God stuff) to be phased out.

  • alfredo

    Good article, but I’m a little wary of judging Christianity only by the amount of good which it is claimed or denied that it does in the world. That is not, after all, its primary objective. In old-fashioned language its central mission is the salvation of souls. It seeks, or should seek, first to put people into a relationship with God. If that relationship is right, the ‘good works’ will radiate out as appropriate from the central changing heart.
    And it should be borne in mind that life in a monastery with no contact with the world has always been regarded by tradition as a perfectly acceptable – indeed admirable – way of life for a Christian.

    • Bruce Bridgewood

      Quite so Alfredo on both counts.

  • George Gillon

    Christianity is as foreign to true European culture as Islam. Monotheistic religions all stem from Zoarostarism’s concept of good versus evil. The ancient semites tweaked it with their own brand of mythology to create Judaism etc.
    Prior to the invasion and conquest by the sword, Europe had a very sophisticated and highly moral civilisation, yet the Christian liars portray everything prior to their arrival as primitive and barbaric, nothing can be further from the truth. Civil society was thriving in Europe as far back as 10000 BC. The Europeans were responsible for the ancient civilisations of Egypt, Persia,Greece and Rome to name just a few. The Afrocentric origins of mankind is another christian endorsed lie, which has been disproven over and over.
    Perhaps Europe will fall to the conquest of Islam, as it did to Judeo-Christianity. However, in the bigger picture 1000 years is a short time compared to between 12 and 20000 years of Europe without these primitive, alien and hateful middle eastern concepts which have caused so much suffering and death.

    • Jack

      “The Afrocentric origins of mankind is another christian endorsed lie, which has been disproven over and over. ” – Do tell me more.

      • George Gillon

        For just one example – Google Russian geneticists disprove “out of Africa ” theory. There are many more studies, even of ancient Egypt, proving that the Pharaohs were white caucasion. This is not greatly reported, as it is not politically correct lol!

        • Jack

          They clearly haven’t “disproved” it; they have just offered another competing explanation. The theories of human evolution are changing all the time, so claiming any have been ‘disproved’ as a result of anything less than a paradigm shift is a little dishonest. The out of Africa theory has also been ‘proven’ over and over again. I think you need to have a sit down and a good look into how science works.

          • George Gillon

            I should have known what you were about, more fool me for giving you a reply. Anyway, this article is about religion and not science and for your information, I have two first class honours degrees, one of which covers the relevant scientific arguments. I would be grateful if you would refrain from further personalised attacks, thank you

          • Jack

            “if you would refrain from further personalised attacks, thank you” – What personal attack?

            “The rest of your comment” – I doubt anyone could get through two degrees without learning how to have an adult discussion, such as the one I was hoping we could have. If you think I’m wrong, that my understanding of the power of the studies is invalid, please explain why.

          • George Gillon

            Two insults since my polite request. How adult of you. My whole point is the lies propagated by Christianity, not the who, why and wherefores of scientific theory. I sincerely wish that I had never found this article.

          • Jack

            So you are unwilling to explain to me how the ‘out of Africa’ theory has been ‘disproven’ in light of my response to your original comment? You know the whole “I’m above this” charade only works to convince you that you’re insightful.

          • JSC

            http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18093-chinese-challenge-to-out-of-africa-theory.html#.VR07sPnF-Ck

            I’m not investing myself in this argument either way, but all I’m saying is our origins are unclear, nothing is proven beyond doubt just yet, we have evidence for quite a few hypothesises and future discoveries will hopefully shed more light on it. Viva la science.

          • Jack

            I wholeheartedly agree. Nothing is clear. The out of Africa theory has supporting evidence, the origins in Asia does, so does a Eurasian origin theory. This guy seems to think that science is a game of one-upmanship.

  • ohforheavensake

    There isn’t a god, Michael.

    • Mark

      Yeah, well, that’s like, just your opinion man.

  • English_Independence_Movement

    A person really does not need to follow a religion ,or even know about the foolish theory of ‘Gods’, to do kind and compassionate acts. One is not a prerequisite for the other.

    • G96Saber .

      @True.

      Although, Christianity is useful – as long as it’s not too extreme – as a mechanism for cultural cohesion and imbuing morality to those who may otherwise not possess it.

      I’m personally not a Christian, but I don’t mind Christianities existence, or if the United Kingdom were more Christian. As long as it doesn’t turn into Evangelical/Pentecostal America.

      • English_Independence_Movement

        Very true on the first point, and fair enough on the second.

  • Alison Fi

    Beautiful Mr Gove. I recently returned to my Catholic faith, just a few years ago now. I am enjoying raising my son a Catholic. We attend many playgroups run by Christian groups – out of their free time, providing welcome support, free meals quite regularly and a joyful friendly atmosphere. It helps enormously when you have no family around. They do this without fanfare. Your article made me cry. Thank you very much.

  • Politically__Incorrect

    Good article Mr Gove, and a refreshing antidote to the Christian illiteracy displayed by so many in the media

    • PetaJ

      And more than a few posting here………

  • K. Q. Duane

    The best sign of Christianity’s exceptionalism is how happy it makes its adherents, as compared with the nastiness and vitriol routinely spewed by unbelievers. For those who truly want the best from life, a life defined by joy and happiness, the choice is clear.

  • atan303

    Gove does a great job of outlining the absurdity of an iron-age belief system in the modern era. He then highlights the better, more relevant aspects of Christian philosophy today, while ignoring the appalling crimes of Christian civilisation, and the failure to progress its apparent ideals for so long.

    Christianity was fine with slavery and the oppression of women and non-Christians for the better part of two millennia. It was the Deists of the Enlightenment that advanced the ideals that we now hold so dear. Agnosticism and Atheism were the logical outcomes of Enlightenment philosophy, with Christianity becoming regarded more and more as a throwback to a less civilised, less intellectual time.

    Perhaps he should address the leading role that he’s played in a Tory government that has rewarded thieving, corrupt bankers while condemning hundreds of thousands to hunger and poverty. How very Christian.

    • la catholic state

      The Truth is unchanging….whatever the age. Christians have done a lot of bad things….but basically we have delievered modernity and civilisation to the world. We repent of what bad we did…..but rejoice in the good we did in Christ’s Holy Name.

      Remember Christ’s warning….without Me you can do nothing. There will be no progress without Christ and Christianity. There will only be decay and destruction.

    • Alex Churchill

      “ignoring the appalling crimes of Christian civilisation” – Really? He wrote:

      “And proclaiming your adherence to the faith which generations of dead white males used to cow and coerce others is particularly problematic. You stand in the tradition of the Inquisition, the Counter-Reformation, the Jesuits who made South America safe for colonisation, the missionaries who accompanied the imperial exploiters into Africa, the Christian Brothers who presided over forced adoption and the televangelists who keep America safe for capitalism.” Sounds like he’s well aware of our faith’s chequered past..

      But he goes on to say “But genuine Christian faith — far from making any individual more invincibly convinced of their own righteousness — makes us realise just how flawed and fallible we all are.”

  • Perseus Slade

    Gove seems to be saying that we had better believe in Christianity
    because it is useful. This is a bit like saying we should be believe in Father
    Christmas or we won`t get any presents, How cynical can you get !

    Wouldn`t It Be Nice If there was a kind God looking after us.
    But there clearly isn`t, so we need to move on.

    Tying one`s morality to a figment of the imagination
    means it is very easily lost
    (the current situation, a vacuum that nature abhors !).
    All that is really needed is to follow the Golden Rule, see
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule

    • colonel wintle

      David Flynn, Temple at the end of Time, worth a read.

    • la catholic state

      God gives us what we deserve. As a sinful, deceitful people we have forfeited Paradise. We live in a dangerous fallen world….because we are a fallen people. Fair is Fair. But luckily thanks to Christ’s death for us….we can if we want to get to Heaven.

      • Perseus Slade

        Yeah right

        • la catholic state

          Any argument to the contrary from you?! No…good. That would be foolhardy.

          • Perseus Slade

            Can`t argue with a loony
            Waste of time

  • http://deanroberts.net/ Dean Aaron Roberts

    I thought this was a very good article – a big contrast to David Cameron’s interview on Premier Media!

  • http://deanroberts.net/ Dean Aaron Roberts

    A big contrast to David Cameron’s “Easter Sermon” : http://deanroberts.net/2015/04/02/david-cameron-preaches-easter-sermon/

  • http://www.ukipforbritain.co.uk/ ukipforbritainwebsite

    I have a theory – evil hates good; darkness hates light.

  • CHBrighton

    In the past, christianity was used by the powerful to cage people in and make them obey. Now the majority of people have freed themselves from those religious manacles and make up their own minds about what to believe or not to believe. Christianity is now just one option among many. It should not have a prior claim to law-making. It’s moral code is highly suspect and damaging to too many people. It’s adherents have an opportunity to contribute to debate, but they cannot construct laws to suit their own beliefs which are, too often, oppressive and blinkered. Individual christians may be enlightened and do good works, but too many are corrupt and certainly have no goodwill to their fellow humans: look Indiana and Arkansas today, for example.

    • la catholic state

      You are free to reject Christ and His commands. Just dont expect to enter Heaven.

      • http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html TNT

        And this is precisely the sanctimonious refutation that will one day render your belief an obsolete and shameful chapter of human history.

        And if he (the carpenter) hasn’t been back in 2000 years (after telling people then alive not to have children as he would be returning imminently), he’s not coming back in your lifetime either.

        I don’t care what you believe, really, but when it comes with presumptuous nastiness like this, you need to be picked up.

        • Mark

          Why are you so upset by something you don’t believe?

          • http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html TNT

            I’m not upset. I’m sitting on the patio with my laptop and a cup of tea, and I’m making an online post about idiocy.

          • Mark

            I’m interested why though.
            You see, I believe in God, and love Him, so clearly I have a reason to post but you, you think believers idiots, so why respond? Why hold an opinion on something you don’t believe? Why engage with what you consider to be idiocy….is it because you retain some doubt or is it that you enjoy winding up those you consider idiots in order to gratify yourself?

          • http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html TNT

            You have never met God. You haven’t seen him or smelled him or tasted him or heard him or even seen him indirectly in action, if the truth be told. And neither have I. (That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have liked to have done, but you reach an age when you finally have to face facts.)

            And yet on the basis of no evidence, you demand the utmost respect and deference, not only in daily life but in matters legal and governmental as well.

            It’s going to backfire – for Christians sooner than it will for everyone else. When you start picking and choosing, for example, who you are going to serve in hotels or bakeries, be mindful that when a new and faster-growing religion than yours becomes more dominant here, you will find YOURSELF being discriminated against because those people will have smugly decided that their imaginary god must be assuaged and obeyed at your expense.

            If you want to see a comment made simply to gratify oneself, take a look at the one from ‘la catholic state’ to the original poster: “You are free to reject Christ and His commands. Just don’t expect to enter Heaven.”

            Now that’s gratification based on nothing more substantial than a fairy tale with blackmail as its central theme.

          • Mark

            TNT why am I responsible for someone else’s posts?

            I can only say that I gave up on God for many years, but I don’t now.

            Oh and businesses deciding what business to accept and what to refuse is a matter of liberty in a pluralist society.

            The process you describe is already happening…. Christian businesses targetted by activists…..why not approach a Kosher or Halal caterer for a gay wedding, insisting on pork sausage rolls? No….so much safer to provoke Christians isn’t it?

            Peace be with you.

          • http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html TNT

            You are not responsible for anyone’s posts – but you defended them.

            I wouldn’t go to a halal butcher or a kosher deli for bacon (assuming I had a craving for nitrates and cellulite), for it isn’t just me they don’t sell it to – they don’t use it themselves.

            It would be like going into B & Q for a carton of Ribena, or to Holland and Barrett for veal – it’s not what they do.

            Publicans can throw someone out without reason because of the volatile effects of alcohol on some drinkers – they can’t do it because of their customers’ colour or sexuality.

            The plight of Christians around the world is truly at a horrific stage right now. I write letters, I send money, I bother my MP.

            But it’s unpleasant to see Christians harbouring the same disturbing tendencies as their persecutors and calling it piety.

          • Mark

            Well the believing Christians in the bakery in Northern Ireland don’t generally use cakes with Bert and Ernie with a gay slogan on them but the logic of the activist bullies case is that they must provide such a cake. Following that logic the kosher or halal butcher must provide you with bacon, or to push the idea further the drag club should provide real ladies….cos I say so, see?

            I haven’t used the word piety, I used the term “Liberty”.

            If a person doesn’t wish to provide a paid for service to another person well why should they? Liberty…..rather than a tyrants law demanding they compromise their religious belief.

            This is pluralism, and it involves respecting one another’s beliefs within reason, and guess what, we all managed to rub along for years (with a bit of discretion) until the secular Pharisees got hold of the rights industry.

          • http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html TNT

            You would have been the first to support segregated schooling in Alabama, I suspect.

            It’s not plurality to bring your bigotry into the public arena.

        • la catholic state

          But…..we all pop our clogs and go to stand before Christ where He will judge us….innit.

          • http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html TNT

            No, it int. You have provided zero evidence.

          • Mark

            TNT there is no evidence for matters of faith, only the testimony of believers which is dismissed as inadmissible.

            Likewise there is no evidence for the denial of faith.

            It’s a draw.

            Peace be with you.

          • http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html TNT

            It’s not a draw, Mark. Someone capable of creating multiple universes would hopefully be less egotistical or at least less incompetent and uncommunicative. Why does your god have so much in common with the collective personality of our ancestors?

          • Mark

            You demand evidence I demand evidence, neither can give the proof the other seeks. A draw.

            And I’m sorry if you think we are so different from our ancestors, the Science of Eugenics….. everyone believed the evidence of the science until they saw the fruit it bore, except the good, faithful Christians who denied it from the start.

            And you even went to the effort to lower case God……bless.

          • http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html TNT

            Not a draw. You make the spectacular claims and can’t back them up.

            I claim only that you can’t back up your claims.

      • Rob

        And you will NEVER enter Rivendell*. In addition, if you are evil you will spend eternity in Mordor*……..There – do you see how silly you sound yet??

        *I don’t actually believe these places exist – they are just made-up lands in a widely-read work of fiction…just like heaven & hell.

        • Mark

          And yet you see the need to confront the Christian believer….why is that, why must you take a position against something you don’t believe?

        • la catholic state

          Just because it suits you not to believe….doesn’t mean they don’t. The universe doesn’t revolve around your likes and dislikes….no matter what they told you at school.

          • Rob

            It’s not a matter of it ‘suiting me’. Some aspects of your favourite myth are quite comforting and might be nice if they were true – which is, no doubt, why you believe in it.

            However, if a loving, all powerful, all knowing deity really were in charge of things then the world would be a very, very different place.

            As it is, it is up to us humans to make the world the best we can make it. Living in the 21st century, but clinging to the worldview of bronze-age tribesmen is not going to help.

          • la catholic state

            This is not Paradise. Only in Paradise where the Saints go is there perfection. Imperfect, fallen people get an imperfect fallen world.
            Have to say….20th century secularists have caused more wars and deaths than all the religious put together. Ill stick with Christ rather than you if you don’t mind.

          • Rob

            I would never have the arrogance to suggest that you choose me over anything or anyone. (You on the other hand have no such qualms over suggesting that others are wrong not to choose your mythical friend)

            If I am suggesting anything to you, it it merely that you should have the courage to take charge of your own life and leave bronze-age superstition to bronze age tribesmen.

            You should ask yourself this – why do you lack such courage?

      • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

        Hilarious.Superstition.

        • Mark

          So trivial you just have to respond….why?

          • Yvon & Barry Stuart-Hargreaves

            It is hilarious.

        • la catholic state

          Please supply proof.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            You’re the one flogging the after life insurance.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Mindless babble from a sky pilot that claims to know the mind of God. Not quite sure which God. Plenty to chose from.

    • Mark

      Ah yes but the powerful have come up with a new set of rules to limit human liberty.

      The panoply of rules and laws around such crimes of thought as questioning the wisdom of feminism, of the promotion of homosexuality to name but two.

      The inquisition and witch hunt are alive and well under new management.

  • Rob

    This is nonsense. People who declare their faith in the UK are not automatically labelled as a bigot. Nor are they, in general, openly ridiculed as believing in a ‘sky pixie’.

    The biggest reason believers are reticent about publicly declaring their faith is simply that they are aware (either consciously or subconsciously) just how silly their beliefs sound to those outside the christian bubble. The reason this is now a major problem for christians is that, for the first time in centuries, the majority of people in the UK now openly state that they are outside of that bubble.

    The fact is that christians practice self-censorship because they know how daft they will sound if they do not. This is an uncomfortable fact for them, so they fall back on the old ‘I am being/will be persecuted for my faith’ myth to cover up their embarrassment.

    • Mark

      Rob, you have this wrong on several levels.

      To illustrate, the core beliefs of Christians can be summed up as, love God and love your neighbour as yourself. Add in the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes and some standard ideas from natural law about reproductive health and the complementarity of male and female bodies and that pretty much covers it.

      Many Christians prefer to live quietly and hold their values without imposing them on others around them…that thing about neighbours….however most will stand firm if pushed to act wrongly by any secular or religious vested interest, and it is these cases that come to court, when, despite supposed human rights safeguards, we discover that Christian beliefs are more challengeable even punishable than other beliefs.

      A final thought, as an experiment, reverse the Ten Commandments e.g. thou shalt steal, though shalt kill, thou shalt commit adultery, and try to envisage the resulting society and where you would fit in it.

      Peace be with you.

      • Politically__Incorrect

        Well said. You are quite right that quietness does not necessarily equal weakness. The strength of ones faith is not measured by how much noise one makes about it.

        • Mark

          Thanks P I, much appreciated.

      • Rob

        What a strange, incoherent, response. Are you sure you did not think you were responding to some other comment?

        I said nothing that challenged the values of christians. All I did was, quite correctly, point out that Gove is lying when he appears to claim that christians are routinely and openly persecuted in the UK. I also put forward a pretty reasonable (and based on personal experience) hypothesis as to the cause of their reticence about sharing their faith in public.

        Since you shifted the debate to the values and morality of christians, I will however say this: the values you seem to be claiming as uniquely christian are shared by the vast majority of people of all faiths and of no faith. Are you seriously suggesting that without christianity people would automatically kill and steal as they would have no ten commandments to stop them? If your faith is all that is stopping you from killing and stealing then you have no place in a civilised society.

        • Mark

          No Rob, I replied to you. I think what I was trying to do was demonstrate the view from the bubble as you would have it, though I think you need to do a bit more research.

          Check out what happened in atheist states.

          And as my faith is stopping me from doing bad things surely that’s a good thing and it demonstrates its power for good doesn’t it?

          • Rob

            If your faith is all that is stopping you from murdering your fellow human beings then, of course, I want you to keep your faith. However you must realise that, if true, this makes you a pretty sick individual.

            I’m willing to bet that if you abandoned your faith and thus felt free to commit all the murder and theft you wanted to, that you would find the amount of murder and theft you wanted to commit was….zero.

            Human morality does not come from the christian faith – it predates it. As for checking out what happened in ‘atheist states’ which ones did you have in mind? Nazi Germany by any chance? You do know that belief in god was a pre-requisite for membership of the SS don’t you? Yes, I know Stalin was an atheist (he trained as a priest first mind you). However he did not commit his undoubted crimes in the name of atheism. The perpetrators of the inquisition and the present-day murderers of ISIS, on the other hand, categorically did/do carry out their killings in the name of god.

            Incidentally, I was a member of various (mostly evangelical) christian churches for about 30 years, have preached and led bible studies. How much more research would you have me do?

          • Mark

            The more research you need to do? Search for the love of God.
            For without love we are but empty sounding bells.

            The USSR and its satellites, Maos China and Albania were all explicitly atheist states. The Nazis were profound liars, who called mass murder “resettlement”.

          • Rob

            Search for the love of god? What do you think I was doing for 30+ years??

            Think about it…what is god’s message of love anyway? God says this: ‘I love you and if you don’t love me back, I’ll torture you forever”. This is the attitude of an abusive boyfriend not a loving father!

            You seem to think that there is no love, beauty or morality outside of religion. Trust me….there is, loads of it. What is more, these things are so much more lovely and beautiful when one is free from worrying about pleasing a capricious, jealous (and thankfully non-existent) celestial dictator.

            Forget about being ‘born again’ it is far better to grow up!

          • Mark

            So because you gave up I should too?

            No thanks.

            What a shame you feel the need to insult me too.

            Ah well, I can’t say I wasn’t warned.

            Peace be with you.

          • Rob

            No Mark, I have not ‘given up’. Nor did I intentionally insult you.

            I now see that when I was a christian was the time when I could be said to have ‘given up’. That is to say I thought I knew the answer to why we are here, how life got started and how it would end. Believing this, I gave up really thinking about what life actually was and what (if anything) it was all about. It is, after all, the man who thinks he knows everything who has no motivation to learn anything. Realising that christianity (like every other religion that has ever existed) was nothing more than a man-made construct was the first step in reawakening my thirst for knowledge and love of life.

            As for the insult – I can only assume that you took this from my last sentence. I apologise for my choice of words, but please be assured that my use of the words ‘grow up’ was not aimed at you, it was simply said as a contrast, and alternative, to the frequent christian exhortation to be ‘born again’.

            Lastly, in response to “Peace be with you.”…

            …and also with you.

          • Mark

            Thanks Rob.

            I don’t hold with fundamentalism, it is not for me to judge you.

            I can only say retain an open mind and don’t give up your search.

            Peace be with you and thanks again.

          • Rob

            My mind is open – it was only truly closed when I was inside the christian bubble.

            Ask yourself this – how open is yours? No need to answer in this public forum, but you owe it to yourself to be honest with yourself.

            As for fundamentalism – I totally agree. Thoughtful christians like yourself are infinitely preferable. However, the mere existence of fundamentalists, progressives and all the other shades of christianity is, in itself, a bit of a problem, isn’t it? If the Bible really were an actual message from a perfect god, how could there possibly be so many conflicting versions of what it means? To be certain in your faith you don’t just have to be sure that you have picked the right religion (out of the thousands available) – you also have to be sure you have picked the right version (out of the thousands available) of the right religion.

            Very best regards,

            Rob

          • Politically__Incorrect

            Well, at least now you’ve given up on Christianity you are full of joy, peace, and love for your fellow humans

    • PetaJ

      You should have ended your comment with your first sentence.

    • LaurenceBoyce

      That’s about right. Christians want to be able to speak openly about their faith, but they also want to be thought of as reasonable people.

      Hmm, tricky . . .

  • jaz

    It is hard to know where to start with such a deeply flawed article as this. The reason we don’t want christian fundamentalists — or any other fundamentalists — running schools in our country is because of the indoctrination that inevitably follows. As for christianity it would be churlish in the extreme not to recognise the contribution to our society and culture that it made in the past, but alas its time has come.
    On a personal note, ss a gay man I can’t subscribe to any body that considers me an abomination and calls for my death. I’ll pass on that if you don’t mind.

    • Mark

      jaz, I think you’d be hard put to give an example of gay men being put to death in Christian or Jewish states in current times….Iran and Saudi….yes you are right.

      Would you consider the novel practice of teaching homosexual practice or its promotion in schools a form of indoctrination or fundamentalism or just o.k.?

      • English_Independence_Movement

        Do they teach heterosexual practice, or its promotion, in these very same schools?

        • Mark

          Well given that heterosexual practice is required for human reproduction (excluding third party intervention) and understanding human biology is a core requirement of basic education I would guess yes.

          • English_Independence_Movement

            Race relations is not required for human reproduction, should they teach that?

            Ditto the Green Cross Code?

          • Mark

            Bye.

      • kittydeer

        Yes look at the backlash against Russia when it voted to restrict the rights of gays. Oh the irony, Putin was treated like a monster and some gays demonstrated for an islamic cause that would happily hang them from cranes. It confirmed a view amongst many though that not a few of them have a slate missing.

      • jaz

        Which is why I said we don’t want any fundamentalists running our schools. Let’s leave schools free to concentrate on educating children. If parents want to bring their children up in a religious belief then that is absolutely their right to do so, but *all* religious indoctrination stops at the school gate.

        I would be fascinated to see which schools are teaching homosexual practice. SRE guidelines make it quite clear clear that schools should not promote any sexual orientation.

    • Donafugata

      While we don’t need fundamentalists of any kind there is a difference between Christian and Islamic.

      Which would you feel more threatened by?

      • ilPugliese

        I still don’t want either.

  • English_Independence_Movement

    The trouble with Christians, and other religious believers, is they go around saying things like “I’ll pray for you” which is unbelievably offensive, or things like “You are free to reject Christ and His commands. Just dont expect to enter Heaven.” which is unbelievably moronic.

    • Mark

      What is offensive about someone showing concern for you that has profound meaning for them?

      Lighten up mate, it’s all part of lifes rich tapestry and the culture of this country.

    • Politically__Incorrect

      Seems you are very easily offended

    • http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html TNT

      Great post. True and to the point.

    • http://www.thetippingpointblog.co.uk Matt

      Why is it offensive to pray for someone?

  • edithgrove

    As someone pointed out here some time ago the left has become the establishment. They were only fun when they were trying to deflate the establishment. More confusingly still, corporations have learnt to speak left whilst robbing us blind. There is nothing more beautiful and more wise than the King James Bible. Sooner or later we will need it again.

    • English_Independence_Movement

      True on the first point.

  • Paul Baker

    If Gove wants a pretend friend, then that’s up to him.

    • Mark

      Correct, and if He isn’t pretend then Gove wins Pascals wager.

      • LaurenceBoyce

        Ah yes, Pascal’s wager – probably the silliest argument going in favour of religious belief.

        • Mark

          Yeah, well, you know, that’s like, just your opinion man.

          But…..peace be with you.

  • mrsjosephinehydehartley

    If this is what he really wants..Mr.Gove should get out of the house and with luck, he might meet a real Christian. He will certainly know about it when he does because he will feel like he’s been blessed. But when grown up Christians seem thin on the ground.. I find children are very good at bringing one closer to Christ.

  • ilPugliese

    If only Christians, etc. would just do their religious thing and keep quiet about it. But no, it has to be rammed down our throats at every opportunity.

    • http://deanroberts.net/ Dean Aaron Roberts

      Why should they keep quiet about it? You’re into censorship now, are you? Again – the “every man to his own” talk going only so far… I’m tolerant until I decide not to be. You’d have something to say if every religion said “I wish atheists would just do their atheist thing and keep quiet about it”.

      • ilPugliese

        Because going on about it is an attempt to assert it and convert people.

        • http://deanroberts.net/ Dean Aaron Roberts

          Erm… well I think that’s part of the whole point of being a Christian.. evangelism, right? You have broad enough shoulders to take it don’t you? You’re quite happy to be bombarded with advertising on your TV and in the street… but as soon as religion comes into it you make a fuss and throw a tantrum. We all need to grow up and grow a pair and start having well meaning, decent conversations about this stuff. It all matters – whether you’re religious or not. If you can’t discuss and question in a vulnerable way, then you’re just as blind and bigoted as religious fundamentalists.

          • ilPugliese

            There is no point in having a conversation with people who spout about the word of God and quote from a book of metaphors that might have meant something to farmers 2000 years ago. And there is nothing to discuss as it is not real. Just another fable.

          • http://deanroberts.net/ Dean Aaron Roberts

            It would be so easy for me to say “Please don’t ram your atheism down my throat”, wouldn’t it? 🙂

          • ilPugliese

            Strangely I only have these conversations when someone asserts that our civilisation came courtesy of Christianity. Christians they might have had to be, but their ideas came from freedom of thought (often directly opposed to the church), curiosity and a desire to master some of the forces of nature to make life more comfortable. Despite the writings of some atheists, it is not an ism. I can quite happily attend church services and sing hymns out of courtesy. Telling people to keep quiet about their wonderland is not ramming anything down their throats. Some of us are old enough to remember when the churches had a much stronger influence on people’s lives and how vile it was.

  • https://twitter.com/shrobb2 Rhoderick Gates

    “But to call yourself a Christian in contemporary Britain is to invite pity, condescension or cool dismissal” As in we atheists don’t get that from religious people?

    Grow up and stop complaining

    • http://deanroberts.net/ Dean Aaron Roberts

      Very true – both can be as equally cool about the other. But can we dismiss each other in a peaceful way? Can good old fashioned debate rise from the ashes in our society? I’m a Christian – and have many atheist friends… and we can have open, honest and frank discussions without becoming enemies… seems this can’t be done in wider society. 🙁

      • https://twitter.com/shrobb2 Rhoderick Gates

        Yes. Polite debate, etc

    • Stephen Eadon

      Marxists (thankfully) largely suffer from the same “prejudice”

  • Mike

    I agree with Michael Gove.

    However, I cant get over the irony of politicians now sticking up for Christianity.

    It’s because of politicians that Christianity is being weakened in this country. You continue to import muslims, despite the fact that they are so utterly incompatible with our society. And you still continue to import more!

    Politicians are at fault for what’s going on in this country, and you completely refuse to change.

  • EUROJESUS

    Where to start with this weird and highly selective reasoning…

    I won’t even bother – Britain today is largely a Godless society. Dutch. Belgian. Some commenters suggest newcomers are to blame this has occured. Bollaux. Some commenters claim that our moral fundament was based on Christian teachings. More bollaux. Some commenters suggest we need to return to traditional values to regain and assert our position in the world. Absolute horse excrement smelling to high heaven bollaux. Michael, we understand you are after the vote of believers. Well, good luck with that, you have at least made your case which is more than others have done.

  • kentgeordie

    It’s not a matter of whether Christianity makes people or societies better or worse. The question is, is it true. To deny that there is masses of evidence that it is true, you have to keep your eyes tight shut.

    • justejudexultionis

      I agree. The positive evidence in Christianity’s favour as found in the NT is overwhelming.

      • LaurenceBoyce

        Of course. Those unvarnished accounts written by the best mates of Jesus (probably not even that) containing all those stories about things which could not possibly have happened.

        I’m afraid the “evidence” is only “overwhelming” if you already believe it.

  • Stephen Eadon

    I thought Michael Gove was a wind bag before but now I just think he’s a bit fluffy and thick (and horse ignorant!) I mean really!? Christianity is a total shambles of an ideology that has reinvented itself consistently under the influence of exogenous necessities and influences since Christ’s death. To suggest otherwise belies a lack of reading in the humanities up there with Cardiologists and Astronauts (who at least have justification). How else can a pacifist anti-imperial religion turn into an imperial one peppered with “just war” casuistry? Christianity has never been the basis of our civilisation – our civilisation has been and remains the basis of what is acceptable to hear from Christianity.

    • Gerschwin

      General rule of argument – once you need rhetorical questions you’ve already lost your own argument. Just a heads up. Better luck with the next one.

      • Stephen Eadon

        thats not a general rule of argument (the proscriptions of which are called ‘informal fallacies’) – it’s not a general rule of argument because it’s moronic. For example, if rhetorical questions invalidate an argument why has every scientist and philosopher used them in their works since people started writing things down?

        • Gerschwin

          They haven’t. They’re better than you.

    • justejudexultionis

      The fundamentals of Christianity remain unchanged since the first century AD: the divinity of Jesus, the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of mankind, the Trinity, Chalcedonian Christology, Nicaean Creed etc.

  • Gerschwin

    From the party that brought you gay marriage, an emotional plea to all Christians – keep voting Tory. You’ll be lucky. You sold out your values the moment you supported gay marriage.
    Vote UKIP.

    • Stephen Eadon

      Despite your fidgety weirdo intentions you’ve pointed to a perfect example of how Christianity is made upon the fly

      • Gerschwin

        I can do that too.
        Despite your oddly bizarre frekazoid stance you’ve served only to highlight how your politics/religion/belief (delete as app.) is made on the quick/fly/back of fag packet….etc…etc…etc…blah…blah…blah…insert wherever on anything you disagree with anyhwere on the internet – get an argument/brain/both or sling your hook.
        Night.

  • Ben Hewitt

    This is a fantastic article but I have to question Gove’s typical Christian stance that Christians somehow invented morality. As a Christian/ Buddhist, I am not attacking this article but the lazy and non-historical argument. Without Socrates and Buddha, there would not be Jesus and therefore Christianity.

    • PetaJ

      I don’t think he’s claiming that they invented morality. I think he is saying that the teachings of Christianity embrace equality.

    • justejudexultionis

      Christianity is about Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins, not ‘morality’. To seek to reduce Christianity to a mere moral system is to destroy it completely. In fact, in many ways Christianity is the exact antithesis of mere morality since it says that in Christ has done everything for our salvation and that we do nothing…

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    I realise that this Christianity spiel is precipitated by Easter, but nevertheless I’m left with the feeling that religious influence (sub-section Christian) in UK is worthy of a top ten ranking on your “Emigrate, reasons to” list. Now I can’t claim to have flown the UK coop back in the early ’70s due to a disenchantment over an undue religious dominance in UK culture. Possible that there was subconscious effect, and I acknowledge that the United States in ten times worse in this regard. But even so, I’m left with the feeling that religion is the curse of humanity. But reading the submissions of religious headbangers I do feel I’m surrounded by fools and lunatics.
    Jack, Japan Alps

    • justejudexultionis

      ‘Curse of humanity’. Surely ‘religion’ is just a way of trying to make sense of the world and the reason why we, and the rest of the cosmos, is here. Positive science doesn’t tell us a great deal other than how things work.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Let me offer this 1,000-year-old pearl of wisdom:
    I put no stock in religion.
    By the word “religion”, I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of God. I have seen too much religion in the eyes of murderers.
    Holiness is in right action, and the courage to defend those who cannot defend themselves.
    And goodness, what God desires, is here and here (head and heart).

    • justejudexultionis

      You’re okay with the 20 million dead under Stalinist atheism though?

    • Chi Rho

      Isn’t this a Quote from Ridley Scott’s ‘Kingdom of Heaven ?’ I’m not sure if that is 1000 Years old.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Well spotted Miss Marple.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    “I’ll pray for you.”
    Don’t do that. It’s so creepy.

    • justejudexultionis

      It is creepy, perhaps. But praying to God is a Biblical injunction.

  • Hegelman

    When cruel politicians working for the cannibal rich blather about religion, it sets up a skunk smell.

  • bockers56

    I’m all for turning the other cheek and loving my neighbour. But remember the ideas embodied in the sermon on the mount were borrowed from eastern philosophy.
    I’m happy to believe in good ideas but not in the idea of a god sending his son down to earth.

  • JoeCro

    Hopefully reason will eventually triumph over superstition.

    • justejudexultionis

      I also hope that Christianity will triumph over atheism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Sikhism, agnosticism and apathy.

  • Callipygian

    by suggesting that the Prime Minister and the President found it easier to go to war in Iraq because their Christianity made them see everything narrowly in terms of good and evil,
    Perhaps Paxman can tell us how Saddam wasn’t evil and how jihad isn’t evil and how they didn’t and don’t bring great evils to their own people and to the rest of us…. Or maybe we should just say to him ‘anything you say, Neville’, which frankly would be doing an injustice to the late Mr Chamberlain….

    Anyway, I had thought that Mr Gove was a very good man and I have just read this piece and realize that he is one of the very best.
    Sign me — An atheist, respectful of the Christian part of our Enlightenment

  • haywardsward

    The Poodle and The Faux Texan praying together and then assuring the world that The Lord had assured them that it was ok to visit Shock and Awe on the land of Iraq, just like the OT! And Lo we arrive at The Iraq Fiasco on the heels of The Afghan Imbroglio, also no doubt inspired by speaking with The Lord.

    The DSM has it nailed, there are deluded. That the DSM then gives it a pass, by saying that because the delusion is so wide spread it is acceptable is the problem.

    We can thank The Poodle and The Faux Texan along with Deputy Dawg, from here DownUnder, for initiating the spawning of the current mess.

    • Callipygian

      I lived in Texas and my husband taught the Bush children of the next generation, while also meeting Mr Bush Senior and Mrs Bush in a Houston supermarket (the secret service men allowed him to approach them and introduce himself). There is nothing fake faux or ersatz about any of them, and they are fine worthy Americans. So get stuffed.

      • haywardsward

        Dubya and his family are all Down Easters. That strange good’ol boy all hat no cattle act is faux.

        • Callipygian

          So un-nuanced of you. They originate in Connecticut as a family so Texas is ‘faux’? You don’t know what you’re talking about. I have three citizenships, I’ve been to 35 American states, lived in six, three north, three south, and I do. You’re full of cow pat, son.

          • haywardsward

            So what are we to make of the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, where POTUS 41 is spending his time.

          • Callipygian

            Darling, I’m going to put it to you succinctly, one last time. One. last. time. OK? Nice deep breath in, and here it goes out:

            So… f——g… what?

      • Hironimous Nostril

        Bush Senior and GW are dimwit indoctrinated loons. Perhaps the kids will rebel.

        • haywardsward

          Then let us sincerely hope that JEB does not get up in the next POTUS contest that would make three of them.

        • Callipygian

          No they aren’t, you prejudiced clot.

          • Hironimous Nostril

            Yes they are. They believe in an imaginary being that they think they can communicate with, and Bush Senior thinks that atheists, AKA sensible folk, should not be considered to be American citizens.

    • rj

      Not a fan of Bush either, but this is a bit mindless really isn’t it? Hardly lends credibility…

      • haywardsward

        That is the point there is no credibility in what they did or do. Then with The Poodle coming out of the closet as an RC, that nailed it.

        • rj

          That was your point? It was a just lucky guess!

          • rj

            OK I’ll stay away from humour in future.

            Why is it that Blair being a Roman Catholic “nailed it” for you?

          • haywardsward

            He can now waltz into the confessional confess his sins aw receive absolution and walk out thinking that the slate is wiped clean?

          • rj

            OK. I don’t mean to be rude but I’m just going to talk to someone else now.

          • haywardsward

            OK

          • Gerschwin

            Because he can. Because he BELIEVES it. You don’t get that because you’re too stupid to understand it and you’re a townk.

          • haywardsward

            Just more delusion. About sin and the ability of any being to wipe such away.

            Further as for my being a twonk, well yes not being a member of the First Nations here Down Under and fairly late arrived in thr late 1960s, that does make me partially so, as a foreigner.

            And though of working class origins I have since moved into the tax bracket that has me placed in regions of the Middle class.

  • Grace Ironwood

    “call yourself a Christian in contemporary Britain is to invite pity, condescension or cool dismissal”

    Behind the times Michael, vitriol and violent mob abuse is more like it – look at the Christian Pizza shop in the US.

  • JohnCrichton89

    As an atheist I really enjoy Christians as neighbours, their Gothic churches that smell of incense and wood and their adherents are generally very lovely people. Whilst I feel their religion should be scrutinised, and children kept safely from indoctrination, everything in order of importance. Anyone scrutinising Christianity/Christians had damn well better be going a million fold with their criticism of Islam, which we know they aren’t……….

    Stats came out today that show Muslims will outnumber Christians by 2070, in the UK it’s estimated by 2050. I feel sick thinking about it.

    • Stephen Eadon

      Your never going to meet the vast majority of either

      • tamimisledus

        I am never going to meet the vast majority of the people who have lived at the same time as me. That doesn’t mean I can ignore them, any more than I can ignore the fate of those who follow after my death.

    • Hironimous Nostril

      Like Christianity, the nonsense of Islam will also fade. Unless Muslims are inherently less intelligent.

    • Amin

      “Stats came out today that show Muslims will outnumber Christians by 2070”

      Where? Lying?

  • Mark Callaghan

    Religious people genuinely scare me.I don’t think we share the same planet

  • James

    Gove has been a prominent voice in a Government that has reintroduced the notion of a ‘deserving and undeserving poor’, shifted wealth from the ‘have-nots’ to the ‘haves’, introduced the ‘bedroom tax’ the most small minded, vicious and ultimately pointless attack on the most vulnerable and he would like as to embrace his Christian beliefs. The man is full of ordure.

  • Frank

    Interesting article, although one is forced to ask which group of people appear to have done their best to mock the C of E over the last 50/60 years? Amongst which group Jeremy Paxman would appear to be a prominent member, yes it is that good old metropolitan elite, forming the majority of our media and political classes.

  • Feminister

    “Christianity, by contrast, like Judaism before it, gives every individual the dignity of a soul, the capacity to reason, the right to be heard and equality before the law. ”

    Excuse me!??

    Christianity categorically DENIED women the right to be heard and equality before the law!!

    1 Corinthians 14: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.”

    Women were banned from even speaking in church, then the only communal institution and the seat of governance and legal justice! Let alone speaking at the front. They were banned from publishing religious tracts without the express permission of the, by then exclusively male clergy, early works by women which would have given us a very different more feminised spiritual faith were burned! Women who defied the ban were imorisoned and murdered as heretics!

    As for women’s souls, they were paltry things. God made man in his own image and a woman to help him. Her soul wasn’t well formed enough to approach the now only, male, God directly, she had to use a male conduit. There are no female prophets in Christianity.

    Dignity? Have you ever read the poisonous misogynous bile of the early Church Fathers who codified the Christian doctrine? It’s the root of the patriarchal misogyny that still poisons our culture today. That’s where it all comes from.

    Abrahamic religion is the absolute worst thing that ever happened to women. Its the biggest crime against humanity of the last four millenia.

    • Stephen Eadon

      Well said

    • http://www.thetippingpointblog.co.uk Matt

      While I understand that Christianity has often had a fairly restrictive attitude to women (and, on occasion, that’d certainly be a moderate way of putting it), are you aware of the Christians both today and in other ages which have different attitudes? Which understand, for instance, 1 Corinthians 14 not as a catch-all command for women to stay silent but as an appeal for order so that women could express themselves properly without people talking over them? Have you talked to such people? People who view slut-shaming or the feeble soul argument just as disdainfully as you do?

      • Feminister

        Yes I’ve talked to them. But Christianity is irredeemably misogynist. Even Jesus was sexist, he could have had female disciples, he didn’t bother. His cult was a fraternity with some female, Prophet-groupies he deigned to let listen to him.

        The people you describe should leave and start a new faith that incorporates the best bits but reintroduces the female half of the spiritual coin which has been entirely excluded and corrupted over the last two millennia. A female deity, female conduits, female morality. Christianity is a deformed thing.

        • http://www.thetippingpointblog.co.uk Matt

          I think that the reason why we don’t leave is because valuing women is actual an inherent part of the faith, and always has been. I’m not going to pretend for a minute that there haven’t been men who’ve got it wrong – there have. I think that often gender issues that come up in the Bible stem from a faith which was co-existing with and struggling with a misognistic society. For instance, you mentioned 1 Cor 14. Many people, including myself, interpret those verses in context as an affirmation of female inquisitivity. But it’s also an appeal for order, suggesting that women ask questions about what’s being discussed at home from their husbands instead of talking over the men in a disorderly way. Why were women on occasion being shut out of those conversations? Because of a sexist Hellenistic education system! It’s the fault of neither the Bible nor the women of that period that they were less educated – it was the fault of the Greek attitude to educating women!

          Perhaps more importantly, it’s more-or-less impossible to read those verses as a generalised “sit down and shut up” command to women – in the light of 1 Cor 11. That chapter’s actually a great example of women taking an active role in speaking from the front (prophesying etc.) in a way that would have been a great scandal to the ancient culture. Paul says, “Great! Continue taking an active role in speaking in churches. Just wear a head covering as a sign of respect for your father [again, a cultural practice, not a Christian one] so that people don’t think that Christianity is just about mindless rebellion. I doubt that I’m going to change your mind but I’d challenge you to revisit some of these texts with an open mind and see if they don’t surprise you.

          I won’t pick up on all of the examples you mention because there are too many (and on some of them you certainly have a point). But Jesus certainly did have prominent female followers alongside His male disciples (e.g. Luke 8:1-3). Frequently it’s the women who tap into what Jesus is really about in the Gospels when the men don’t really get it (e.g. Luke 7:36-50). And, most central of all, it’s women who are the first witnesses to the most foundational event in human history, the resurrection. I struggle to see how a faith which, whatever its faults have been down the centuries, puts women front-and-centre as the first evangelists can be a right-off in the way you describe.

          I’d be interested to know your thoughts.

  • Feminister

    I’ve met a fair few Christians in different places, at school, at work, in local churches, on a retreat. With only one exception they were really passive-aggressive, intrusive with some truly disturbing beliefs.

    • rj

      I’ve met plenty of Christians too and I don’t agree with generalising them as passive-aggressive and intrusive.

      • Hironimous Nostril

        Not encountered any born agains? They are very pushy, especially towards the emotionally vulnerable. Not me, I hasten to add.

        • rj

          That’s a fair point. I did get a knock at the door once, and yes they were annoying.
          I suppose I’m a product of my experience, and I’ve not met many Christians who have bothered me much.

          • Feminister

            Try going to church and staying for the biscuits.

            Better still, try falling out with one.

      • Feminister

        Pay closer attention. They are.

        • rj

          Ok I’ll try harder! Perhaps you could meet me half way by considering that if you find all Christians to be passive aggressive (except for one) it might be something to do with your line of questioning.

  • robhalligan

    Not sure that Christian Charity is seen as supect, unless of course you mean that behind Christian Charity is an alterior motive, whether to appease the conscience or somehow impress the masses in order to gain converts.
    That’s always a problem and not just in charity. I’m a Christian. (which thinking about it doesn’t clarify anything when you took at christian ‘types’) I’m also a musician, songwriter etc. In a recent review of one of my albums, the reviewer enjoed the music until he realised I was a christian, Then the songs took on a new meaning and, according to him, I was being disingenuous. Unfortunately he would expand on what he meant when I asked him but I suspect that he thought I was trying t o get in with my christian fundamentalist message (why don’t we try not fighting but getting on with each other – sounds limp but it’s better than that on record) through the back door when actually, regardless of my faith, I think reconciliation, social justice and paying it forward is a jolly good thing to do.

    Incidently, in the city I live in, the local authority is so cash strapped it’s rellying on churches to provide the social support services the city needs and is hinting at offering libraries, parks and other public amenities to the church to run.

    I’m sure there are disingenuous christians just as there are disingenuous athiests, pagans, oh yes, and politicians. But there’s more than a few genuine ones that can really pack a punch.

  • Andrewp

    Michael Gove also describes islam as a ‘great’ religion.(BBC Question Time 2 Apr). So let’s leave aside the beheadings, stonings, subversion of women, amputations, murder of gays and adulterers and agree with him

    • tamimisledus

      He would have to say that in order to avoid upsetting not only G Osbourne’s other brother, but more especially the muslims in the Conservative Party, some of whom are in the Houses of Parliament or the European Parliament. One of these seems to be destined for great things in the Conservative Party. He may be the person Cameron was referring to when he said he expected to see an Asian as UK Prime Minister. Not forgetting the pro-muslim ethos which prevails in the BBC and “progressive” media whom he should not upset.

      It is beginning to seem that when he voiced his strong concerns about islam, what lay behind those concern was only that Christianity would be harmed. Maybe, now that in the UK the endemic antagonism of islam towards Christianity has (temporarily, as history will show) abated, he is willing to overlook the evil inherent in the doctrine of islam.
      Or is it that Gove just doesn’t want to upset potential muslim voters ahead of the next election. He should remember that in the early day’s of Hitler’s national power, his right wing allies were able to close their eyes to any reservation they had about Hitler. And just look where that led to.

  • disqus_6HfnTuxPSq

    Spufford’s sarcastic lament about how Christians are regarded is in fact deadly accurate as a description of fundamentalist Christians. As for liberal Christians, many of them are “functional atheists,” and the charitable works of their churches, while just as admirable as the same works done by ethical societies and non-profit organizations, do nothing to vindicate the doctrines of the Incarnation and the Atonement. It should be possible for adult humans to engage in these salubrious activities without having to believe that they are rewarded by the personal attentions of the Creator of 100 billion galaxies, Who listens to their prayers and answers them from time to time in mysterious ways. And yes, when two of these Christians pray together and then lie their countries into an unnecessary war of choice, leading to the killing and maiming of tens of thousands of their own citizens and the devastation of the invaded country, it does at least raise a question in the minds of disinterested onlookers about the value of the Christian religion today, irrespective of the positive role it played once upon a time in ending the slavery that it had so long upheld.

  • Paul Wonnacott

    Civilization was not created by Christianity, it was created by Pagans, long before Christ, Mohamed, Buddha etc. The Chinese civilization and the Japanese were built on Ancestor Worship and Confucian/Taoist philosophy, the oldest civilization in the world is ours in Western Europe and they worshipped the Sun the Moon and the Earth. That civilization died, not because it was faulty even , but because a volcano in Iceland put too much ash in the air which destroyed the harvests for decades, fatal to any civilization, it could yet happen to us.
    Primitive Stone Age hunter gatherers had a Pagan religion, they had no slavery either, that didn’t start til the Bronze Age agriculture based civilizations, to build temples and palaces for kings and high priests. Christianity failed the people largely because it maintained the status quo, when the Romans forced conversion on the Empire under Constantine. Who, incidentally, remained a Pagan himself.
    The idea that any one belief system has the moral high ground over the others is a fallacy as most claim to purport much of the same moral code, yet few actually adhere to it, especially those who consider themselves the most righteous.
    Christianity also failed because it kept the Old Testament containing all manner of very un Christian principles, where does Eye for an Eye fit with Turn The other Cheek? Or Thou shalt not kill and burning Heretics because they have a different ritual?
    EPIC FAIL

    • Paul Wonnacott

      I forgot the most important deity to the Stone Circle builders, TIME, that is what the structures are all about, Cosmic Clock/Calendars, the future is not “predictable” in detail, but from the cyclical patterns of the past we can extrapolate potential variant outcomes on a larger “Big Picture” level.

      OUR WHOLE SPECIES HAS TO CHANGE THE WAY WE LIVE IF WE ARE TO SURVIVE THE FUTURE

  • Ladolcevipera

    I do not believe in God but I have the greatest respect for Christianity. It is a
    superior metaphysical worldview and it is the foundation of our western civilization.
    I do not believe on intellectual grounds, although it would make my life a lot
    easier if I did. Negative theology is probably the closest I shall ever come to
    faith. A Zen proverb says: ‘When the student is ready, the master will appear’.
    So somehow I feel cheated by God…

  • JDS

    A typical example of the backwards thinking that religious doctrine inevitably leads to, and that is that the charity and good done in the name of religion somehow excuses the consistent and on-going damage that religious dogma continues to cause worldwide. The typical religious viewpoint of “Christianity encourages us to look beyond tribe and tradition to celebrate our common humanity.” is complete and utter rubbish and can be seen by the discrimination, violence, bigotry, snobbery, ignorance, and arrogance exhibited by religious adherents worldwide. If you choose to warp your religion to fit into modern terms and dress it up in a pretty bow to conceal it’s stench and even go so far to claim that your religion teaches unconditional love of all people (so long as they change their ways to fit your doctrines) that’s your choice and no one can take it away from you but it is an obvious lie; your religious texts do not back your spoken ideals (unless you pick and choose what you want to believe and discard the rest) and you are living an untruth. “But to call yourself a Christian in contemporary Britain is to invite pity, condescension or cool dismissal.” — as well it should, as should all dogmatic beliefs which contradict themselves and in so doing damage the human spirit and psyche. I’m thankful to be living in a country which has such a large atheist population especially as I watch the chaos, confusion, and destruction that Christianity continues to spread in my country of birth. How short the memory of Christians are as they condemn Muslim extremists for barbarianism having committed the same atrocities even less than a century ago.

  • Gil8ert

    Believe in whatever religion you like. But don’t turn around and tell other people they cannot do the same. Maybe your god is peaceful and kind, and maybe their god is violent and beastly. But if your whole premise is that faith is sacred to an individual, then that is why we can’t have nice things.
    It is only those people without a religion who can have a reasonable say against a religion. Everyone else is just being hypocritical.

  • Bob Gunter

    Michael, on question time you made a clear statement that Islam was a religion of peace. This wasn’t qualified it was just a simple statement of fact on your behalf, so I ask you this. Christ, faced with an angry mob wanting to stone a woman to death said, let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Mohammed when faced with a similar situation, told his men to take a pregnant woman away until she had the child and had weened it. Then bring her back and let the mob stone her to death. So tell me my friend, how can you, a clever man, distribute such a callous lie about the religion? Just because a billion people believe it and don’t chop heads off does not mean the example of Mohammed’s life, which is a pillar of the religion, is peaceful, moral, good, or any other adjective you’d care to lump with a religion that truly was peaceful.

  • Darryl Stowers

    our guys against your guys. Screw you all. I’m on Gods side

  • oolonmcc

    Interesting article, and the comments below serve to underline Mr Goves comment:

    “But genuine Christian faith — far from making any individual more invincibly convinced of their own righteousness — makes us realise just how flawed and fallible we all are. I am selfish, lazy, greedy, hypocritical, confused, self-deceiving, impatient and weak. And that’s just on a good day. As the Book of Common Prayer puts it, ‘We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts…And there is no health in us.’”

  • The Blue Baron

    As an atheist who is deeply critical of religion I have to concede this is a powerful and well-written article.

  • Lala

    The impulse to help those who are in need is a force for good and should never be cast asunder simply because it derives from people who live their lives as Christians. Michael Gove is spot on in pointing out that somehow the virtues of Christianity are now viewed by suspicion. Being a Christian is as a much a discovery of the self and how we then take what we learn and refine from that on-going interior ‘discussion’ out into the world we daily encounter: how we treat our friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues, people we meet by chance, or speak to in the supermarket, or at the bus stop or when collecting our children from school. Or even people from our faiths and beliefs.

  • Benjamin O’Donnell

    Christianity should be in the same position as astrology – an archaic & silly eccentricity tolerated by the wider population because no one really takes it seriously.

    • Sean L

      Utterly clueless comment. Christianity is foundational for us. Irrespective of one’s personal beliefs our culture is saturated with Christianity, to borrow a term from TS Eliot. Liberal values are the Christian idea of all souls being equal before God translated into secular terms, an astonishingly radical idea in its time, as was the antecedent Jewish idea, Christianity being a Jewish heresy, of an invisible God. Where *is* this God of the Jews? asked the Roman, who couldn’t get his head round the notion.

      • Hironimous Nostril

        We evolved the way we are despite the unwelcome intrusion of the ludicrous tosh that is Christianity. We civilized it, not the other way round.

        • Sean L

          Well that’s all that’s in question, “the minds of men”. Yes the forms of Christian faith are evaporating from the minds of men, like Greek gods before them. The point is that our minds happen to be formed by it, as they were and are by Greek mythology and philosophy. Christianity itself has been called Platonism for the people; our spatial metaphor for moods, how we say we’re *in* love, for example, derives from Greek mythology, which is also decisive for our language and culture, for how we think and speak, which is to say our minds, how we’ve evolved, our culture, scientifc knowledge and so on. . .

      • Benjamin O’Donnell

        Many ideas still used in chemistry & astronomy were first discovered by alchemists & astrologers. Does that mean we should continue to respect alchemy & astrology? No. They alchemy & astrology may have made contributions in the past, but they’ve now been shown to be based on false premises and have been consigned to history. Anyone who clings to them today is rightly ridiculed, though the study of them as *history* is entirely legitimate and even useful. Ditto Christianity & Judaism.

  • Steve Cox

    Good article. It’s not often you hear this side of the argument.

  • Charles

    The crimes committed by Christians during the Crusades, in Europe during the spread of Protestantism, and the world over during the age of colonialism will never be erased. As for the good done by Christian charity today, it is real. Yet if it’s founded on an almost undoubtable lie, the godhood of an itinerant magician 2,000 years ago, where does that leave us? A species that cannot do good without basing it on a lie. I’d rather place value on the good done by secular people and find ways to strengthen and expand those activities. That a lie accomplishes good is not sufficient reason to ask people to believe in it. Unless we see ourselves as fundamentally in need of self-deception in order to live decent lives. Not an attractive premise.

  • JPJ2

    All religion is driven by the fear of death and mostly overlays the critical faculties of humanity with a nonsensical belief in sky fairies of one type or another.

    Ironically, a belief in God has clearly been of evolutionary benefit, allowing people to function in an environment where death was ever close.

    It perverts our human prospects and rational advancement to believe in unproven (at best) nonsense

  • Hironimous Nostril

    Another reason to not allow Gove anywhere near education. He has an imaginary friend. Good grief.

  • Hegelman

    Christianity is no more than an anti-Semitic cult. All that obscene spiteful whining about how “the Jews” slaughtered their humourless “saviour”.

    No other religion I know is so morbid and so viciously fixated on the ghoulish details of one old killing. And the worst of it is, Christians when they grabbed power proved infinitely more cruel than the old regime.

    The further the West has got from this morbid old cult the more humane it has become.

    I admire and love the Jews and the only Jew who displeases me is the fellow who started Christianity.

    • rj

      So the aim is to instigate a divide between these two religions? Hmm… I wonder what your angle might be…

  • rj

    I actually find it a little sad to see there is so much hatred against Christianity these days.

    The Church wasn’t for me, but out of respect for my community, I’d generally not point out what I felt were contradictions or odd principles. I never got a “hell fire” speech, and I don’t recall I ever felt the need to challenge anyone on their beliefs.

    If I’d come from a community of judgement, finger-pointing, or other religious oppression then I might feel different, but it just wasn’t like that.

    I think in this day and age, we are safe from the baby-eating-bishop-of-bath-and-wells, and if Christianity works for some, and they’re not stepping on other’s toes, then why do we need to challenge what they think?

    • Hironimous Nostril

      My biggest problem with Christianity is that it’s clearly nonsense, yet it’s proponents think they deserve special treatment for believing it, what with their divisive sectarian schools, subsidised transport and praying in council meetings. Like Islam it must be mocked wherever and whenever it raises its ugly interfering head.

  • John Traynor

    “Belief” in gods, ghosts and magic is mental immaturity and Tories need people to be mentally immature as such people are much easier to control. Gove, who believes in nothing, and whose only masters are the financial gangsters, uses the myth of “faith” as a deliberate tool to induce a catatonic state among the public so he can carry on obeying his true gods: The tax-dodging corporate filth.

    • Hironimous Nostril

      His successor does a lot of praying, poor deluded chump that she is.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Announcing that you are person of faith, is another way of saying that you would believe almost everything on virtually no evidence.

  • Feminister

    It’s no coincidence that Scandinavia leads the world in humane governance, ecology and gender equality. While the rest of Europe was carrying out a pagan holocaust primarily directed against women and female religion, Scandinavians resisted the Middle Eastern cult of the masculine with its male warrior God, male prophets, male priesthood for 600 further years and still have enough of a folk memory of paganism to apply it. It’s a tragedy that it made it to our shores, what a different world we’ve would have today if female religion hadn’t been wiped out.

  • Feminister

    What happened to God’s wife, Asherah? Whe’dy she go?

    • Hironimous Nostril

      People stopped believing in her and she was gone. God will probably go the same way.

      • Feminister

        They didn’t stop, she was deliberately eradicated, her statues destroyed. During the deliberate campaign to masculinise Judaism: and make it monotheistic:

        2 Kings 23: “Josiah smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles and covered the sites with human bones.”

        But inscriptions referring to Yahweh and His Asherah as well as figurines survive.

        She went the same way as all the other goddesses of the near and Middle East and Europe.

        The same way as the female soul when women were banned from philosophy schools in Ancient Greece. These are the guys who created Christianity.

        The same way as the Wiccans.

        All we have left is the very mortal Mary simpering, sexless, obedient and safe and an annual festival on October 31st to demonise a religion of hook nosed people who eat babies.

        • soysauce1

          Delusional.

          • Feminister

            Ignorant.

          • soysauce1

            Airhead.

          • Feminister

            Rude

  • Village Idiot

    Look over this thread and see who has been haughty, rude, smug and condescending. It’s very instructive in its own right.

  • Binky Tatler

    Poor old Paxman still no signs of a decent hair couture. He has lost both his edge and his hairdresser

  • AV Veratu

    This article is presupposition that Christian morality and values are the only logical choice for society en large. But what would be the basis, the moral first order principles, of Christianity, and why is it supposedly better than any other system?

    • pobjoy

      Christianity is not a morality system, any more than any other religion is. Everyone is moral, to a degree, but not everyone is religious. From its earliest, pre-historic roots (as far as we know), religion has been a means of coping with bad conscience caused by morality.

      Michael Gove wants to be known as a Christian, no doubt because there is an election in the offing, and wants to publicise antichristian ideas as Christian, presumably because he cannot stop himself.

      • AV Veratu

        The article presupposes that Christianity is not only ‘a’ moral system, but the only viable absolute system of morality. I would agree that it is not a system of morality, but that would not be the opinion of the average christian. Take the insane moral argument made by Duck Dynasty’s old kook Phil Roberts for instance.

        • pobjoy

          ‘The article presupposes that Christianity is not only ‘a’ moral system, but the only viable absolute system of morality.’

          I don’t think it does, though there are many of stubborn persuasion who say so in the USA. Morality is deontological, if you like, because our existence is inevitably moral, whether we are religious or not. As soon as we come, helpless, naked, piping loud, into this world, we take a distinctly moral view. We protest the sanctity of life, and even of property, before very long. And those same two principles stand behind all civil and criminal law, however sophisticated.

          ‘but that would not be the opinion of the average christian’

          Perhaps so, but how important is that, if it is true?

          How does one know who is a Christian, anyway? If one says that a mere claim to Christian faith suffices, does one also take the opinion of the faith holder about others who claim faith, but claim falsely? So A claims to be Christian, but claims that claimants B, C, and D to Z are not Christian.

          • AV Veratu

            “I don’t think it does, though there are many of stubborn persuasion who say so in the USA.”

            From the article I quote the most obvious example:

            “In pre-Christian times, moral reasoning and full human potential were assumed to be restricted to an elite. Greek city states depended on a population of helots, the Roman Empire on the subjugation of slaves and barbarians, to sustain their rule. Their achievements were built on a foundation of radical inequality.”
            Protestant Imperialist Britain abolished slavery in 1833, and in the united states “After 1830, white Southerners argued for the compatibility of Christianity and slavery, with a multitude of both Old and New Testament citations” so I don’t see how this claim to moral superiority is valid.

            “Christianity, by contrast, like Judaism before it, gives every individual the dignity of a soul, the capacity to reason, the right to be heard and equality before the law. Because every individual is — in the image of God — capable of moral judgment, reflection and responsibility.”

            If there where no god, then we would not have been ‘given’ the capacity of moral judgment and responsibility, hence morality is based on “the image of god”, hence the article presupposes that Christianity is not only ‘a’ moral system, but the only viable absolute system of morality.

            “Morality is deontological, if you like, because our existence is inevitably moral, whether we are religious or not.”
            I shall quote the definition for you: “Deontological ethics or deontology is the normative ethical position that judges the morality of an action based on the action’s adherence to a rule or rules.”
            Christianity requires following certain rules and living your life in a certain way in order attain a reward in the afterlife, therefore Christianity is a deontological moral system.

            “does one also take the opinion of the faith holder about others who claim faith, but claim falsely? So A claims to be Christian, but claims that claimants B, C, and D to Z are not Christian.”
            No true Scotsman would hold such beliefs.

          • pobjoy

            ‘”In pre-Christian times, moral reasoning and full human potential were assumed to be restricted to an elite.’

            That is not at all the same as saying that morality is based on religion. It is far more sophisticated than the absurdly simple USA ‘pastor’ who declares that morality came into the world when Moses went up Mount Sinai to collect the Decalogue. What Gove is saying, and he might well have been spurred into it by anger at my own writing, is that it is the Christian conception of God which has given rise to the respect for individual conscience, rights and autonomy which underpin our civilisation. Though what Gove would have better written is this:

            ‘In pre-Protestant times, moral reasoning and full human potential were assumed to be restricted to an elite.’

            Though that wouldn’t be entirely representative of the truth, because the awful condition of medieval Europe was unprecedented in world history, and the state of mind of 99% of Europeans was grotesquely distorted by superstition and ignorance that non-historians cannot comprehend.

            Because what Gove neglects to mention is that it was only Protestantism that achieved this, at the cost of the furious and brutal *persecution* of the Vatican. Gove is trying to claim this achievement, for creating the democracy for which he feigns support, for his own ultra-right wing instinct for papalism (he shares this instinct with IDS, who is actually papist), which has been the most murderous and brutal influence against freedom of conscience in the history of the world. Individual conscience, rights and autonomy were unknown under medieval European rule. Think Salazar, Franco and Pinochet, who all deployed Catholicism in the 20th century. And we’d better not mention the Reichskonkordat. But that’s the Nasty Party for you, at least the loony Goveish wing of it. They would do away with elections if they had half a chance.

            ‘I shall quote the definition for you’

            But it’s circular. The Bible reader takes it from the beginning, that it was deity who made the universe, and made it ineluctably moral. So deontological ethics or morality has no validity in that context. *Every* action is potentially moral, and there are no rules other than what conscience sets and applies. In the Christian view, Christ at Sinai gave the Golden Rule: “Do as you would be done by.” Which is only common sense, self preservation, if you think about it.

            ‘No true Scotsman would hold such beliefs.’

            I’ll be charitable and assume that you are being frivolous, and that you admit that one cannot define a Christian except by recourse to the Bible.

          • AV Veratu

            I can agree with most of this.

            “That is not at all the same as saying that morality is based on religion.”

            This would be true if he had not said:

            “Christianity, by contrast, like Judaism before it, gives every individual the dignity of a soul, the capacity to reason, the right to be heard and equality before the law. Because every individual is — in the image of God — capable of moral judgment, reflection and responsibility.”

            Thus, “in the image of god” we are capable of moral judgement. I think he’s clearly claiming that without christianity, morality would not exist.

            “The Bible reader takes it from the beginning, that it was deity who made the universe, and made it ineluctably moral.”

            I would not presume to know what the bible reader thinks, and I’ll just assume you would fail to substantiate this claim unless you have secretly conducted a survey of the opinions of bible readers. But even if I granted you this, the bible says nothing of morality being intricate to creation other that by the rules provided, even the original sin, the first independent action of man and woman, was because they did not obey god’s rule,”do not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil”. The fact is the bible does lay out rules and consequences, which still leaves us with a deontological moral system.

            “In the Christian view, Christ at Sinai gave the Golden Rule: “Do as you would be done by.””

            Again, do you presume to know the opinions of all christians? Also, I don’t see why you should be able to cherry pick one verse from the bible and dismiss all the rest of the fundamental teachings of a complex religion.

            “I’ll be charitable and assume that you are being frivolous, and that you admit that one cannot define a Christian except by recourse to the Bible.”

            No, I was pointing out that I dismiss “……So A claims to be Christian, but claims that claimants B, C, and D to Z are not Christian…..” because it is a no true Scotsman fallacy.

          • pobjoy

            ‘Thus, “in the image of god” we are capable of moral judgement.’

            But even the archaic Bible that Gove tried to shove down the throats of every school in the UK says that deity created *all* humanity in a world that provides temptation, light and darkness being metaphors for moral choice. It’s not as though Christians bring morality to others, or even that Israelites did. How are you so incredibly ignorant? Nothing to do with ultra-right politics, is it?

            Gove wrote that “every individual is — in the image of God — capable of moral judgment, reflection and responsibility,” to give the whole of his import. The deceit of it is that the religion that he includes as Christian, Roman Catholicism, was and remains deliberately aimed at *removing* moral judgment, reflection and responsibility, from a majority, who are expected to idiotically place all of them into the hands of a tiny minority of people (who hire Gove), who seek to exploit that majority. That’s Toryism, to the core. This much has been explained already, so the reader may presume that A V Veratu has no interest in preserving democracy. The poster also seems terrified of the notion that Christianity teaches that morality existed before Sinai, which is of course abundantly clear to any reader of Genesis; and Gove has not given the least indication that he believes it. He’s not an American fundie. But Gove’s sly, dishonest purpose, imv, is to smuggle onto the Protestant bandwagon that medieval (and later) criminal element that murdered Protestants for the astonishing nerve that they had of exercising their moral judgment, reflection and responsibility. That’s the sickening lie that A V Veratu de facto defends, also.

            ‘I would not presume to know what the bible reader thinks’

            Of course you would. You just cannot cope with what every mainstream denomination, and even that vile RC cult, describes as Holy Scripture.

            ‘The fact is the bible does lay out rules and consequences’

            Emphatically not so. The chronology of Genesis has deity calling people to account for theft, violence and rape, before there was a single rule given to anyone. IOW, morality was given with the universe, if there is *any* truth in the Bible.

            ‘Again, do you presume to know the opinions of all christians?’

            Again, how do you decide that members of mainstream denominations are liars when they consider that what they call Holy Scripture is not actually Holy Scripture? The Golden Rule was given by Jesus, but few realise that (the same) deity gave it long before, at Sinai.

            ‘because it is a no true Scotsman fallacy’

            Either you have not read my posts in this blog, or you have, and lie about this.

          • AV Veratu

            “How are you so incredibly ignorant?” Nice ad hominem.

            “Nothing to do with ultra-right politics, is it?” You assume. But I have no idea who he is or what his politics would be, I’m commenting only on the contents of this article.

            “That’s the sickening lie that A V Veratu de facto defends, also.” You’ve lost me? I’m not defending anyone. (In fact I am a descendant of French Huguenots). Al I’ve been saying is that the author of this article presumes that morality is dependent on religion. You seem to attach a whole string of additional beliefs to my opinion of which I am not aware.

            “Of course you would.” I don’t engage in unfounded generalizations as you have repeatedly done. If you where to know what believers think, you would have to conduct an exhaustive survey, you cant just go by what your neighbor might say.

            “morality was given with the universe, if there is *any* truth in the Bible” again, no, that’s why they have the concept of original sin, because of the original transgression against gods will, all of mankind are now supposedly mortal sinners. I was brought up Dutch Reformed, its in there.

            “how do you decide that members of mainstream denominations are liars when they consider that what they call Holy Scripture is not actually Holy Scripture?” Could you explain how you would come to know what these people think? could you refer me to a survey? Unless you can, this point is baseless and moot.

            “Either you have not read my posts in this blog, or you have, and lie about this.” Why should I have? Again you assume that I know or care who you are, I am commenting on the contents of this article only. The plain fact is that the reasoning you where using is fallacious, and thus its again a moot point. And again, nice ad hominem.

          • pobjoy

            ‘I am a descendant of French Huguenots’

            Who were Calvinists, and Calvinism, in its original form, was no less right wing than the totalitarianism it replaced. So that’s no defence.

          • AV Veratu

            Seriously, now you’re just plain splitting hairs.

            The Huguenots where expelled From France by the Catholics, and I mentioned it in answer to: “The deceit of it is that the religion that he includes as Christian, Roman Catholicism, was and remains deliberately aimed at *removing* moral judgment, reflection and responsibility, from a majority,”

            I am South African, I am not aware of all the additional attached strings to all the politics as you may be. I find it ridiculous that you can assume to label my opinions as ‘right wing’ when you cannot have a clue what my political opinions may be.

          • pobjoy

            ‘The Huguenots where expelled From France by the Catholics’

            Not because they were left wing, but because their doctrine of predestination messed up the Catholic ploy of keeping the populace in a state of uncertainty, for its own ends. Also, Calvinists made much of their attention to the Bible, and Bible reading is ever a threat to Catholicism. Calvinism also tended to tell the poor that their poverty was due to their reprobate state. So it was a question of which strategy the ultra-right was to adopt in France. The Catholic majority was always going to win, and the Huguenots might have realised that.

            That Calvinists would find a refuge in a country like SA, which had very limited Catholic presence, was predictable. As, we now see, are the ‘arguments’ of AV Veratu.

          • AV Veratu

            Good, now explain to me why this is relevant? How would this show this Grove was not saying morality is dependent on religion?

            Getting back to the original point of discussion, as I’ve pointed out repeatedly, the article says: “Because every individual is — in the image of God — capable of moral judgment, reflection and responsibility.”

            Now as we all know, in Genesis god says “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness”, yet when Adam enters the garden of Eden god tells him: “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” This clearly indicates that god did not create man with moral faculties, and only after eating the forbidden fruit “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked”. Hence I think it would be a mistake to assume that “The Bible reader takes it from the beginning, that it was deity who made the universe, and made it ineluctably moral” when the creation myth at the beginning of the bible teaches otherwise. And seeing as how christianity is by definition(as Kant showed) a deontological moral system, one which dictates categorical imperatives and consequences to its adherents, I would still suggest that this article is presupposing that Christianity is not only ‘a’ moral system, but the only viable absolute system of morality.

            I personally would reject this, as I believe a true moral agent would do the right thing because it is the right thing to do, and not because they are following a rule.

          • pobjoy

            ‘This clearly indicates that god did not create man with moral faculties’

            Then there can be no sensible meaning to the creation of mankind in the image of deity. It must therefore be supposed that mankind is made with moral sense. It is increasingly supposed by ethologists that higher animals may have moral sense. Whatever the truth of that, unless one maintains that the universe was created in 4004 BC, one must suppose that conscience is a product of evolution. And that, if there is a deity, that is the means by which deity caused morality to exist, perhaps a million years ago, whenever human species emerged. Gove and even the Vatican (though not all Calvinists, by any means) have to agree with that.

            The word ‘knowledge’ has different meanings. One can know that, say, rape is wrong, without having raped, or having been raped. Every judge who passes sentence on a rapist is assumed to have no personal knowledge of this class of action. Then take the word ‘know’ in the case of a ineptly sympathetic man who says to a rape victim, “I know how you feel.” The retort is likely to be, “You *can’t* know how I feel.” Same word, very different meaning.

            So knowledge can be intellectual, or it can be experiential; the word ‘knowledge’ in the case of the Tree of Knowledge and Good and Evil refers to experiential knowledge. So deity warns here that, even in Eden, temptation exists, but one must not succumb to it. If one does, one is ‘turned out of Eden’, and that is the pictorial representation of a sense of guilt, that according to the Bible, all possess. It is, for us, the end of innocence, the beginning of the end; that is why there was warning that eating if the tree would produce death. Not bodily death, but death of the eternal soul, unless conscience be salved. It is human guilt that is the only real concern of the Bible, the ending of guilt being the purpose of atonement.

            In flagrant opposition to that, Gove, IDS and all Catholic leaders *want* people to feel guilt, so that they can be more easily manipulated. It is the reason for Huguenots being massacred in France, with the despicable Vatican striking a medal to celebrate the occasion, because Calvinism supported the biblical view that mankind can know freedom of guilt, and therefore have neither need nor desire for despicable priests. Of course, Calvinists were utterly despicable themselves, for saying that deity predetermines some to perdition. That is why they too were, and remain, tolerated by the worldly, though preferably not cheek by jowl with Catholics.

          • AV Veratu

            “So knowledge can be intellectual, or it can be experiential; the word ‘knowledge’ in the case of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil refers to experiential knowledge.” I think you need to go look into epistemology as this is not quite how it would be explained.

            “So deity warns here that, even in Eden, temptation exists, but one must not succumb to it.”

            This would be a contradiction, as man did not have the knowledge to know temtation, until he ate the forbidden fruit.

          • pobjoy

            ‘this is not quite how it would be explained’

            Not by someone who skipped past mention of creation, ahead of humanity, of light and dark, meaning truth and falsehood, goodness and evil. Not by someone whose whole output illustrates that Jesus was spot on when he said that his crucifixion would convict the world of guilt. AV Veratu knows that he *must* be born again, but has yet to commit himself.

            ‘This would be a contradiction, as man did not have the knowledge to know temtation’

            That’s obvious nonsense. He must have known temptation if he was made in the image of deity, who *detests* evil. One cannot know right from wrong without knowing what the experience of ‘wrong’ would be if one was to choose wrong. It’s not like knowing the difference between 6 and 8, or even between tea and coffee. It’s the guilt of ‘wrong’ that makes all the difference. Telling lies becomes so habitual to some people that their sense of guilt is numbed.

          • AV Veratu

            “Not by someone whose whole output illustrates that Jesus was spot on when he said that his crucifixion would convict the world of guilt.” Please clarify what you mean by “someone whose whole output”.

            Again, the bible says, “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame”, until they ate the fruit “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked”, to which god said: “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

            Clearly, being created in the image of god would refer to the physical appearance only. Also, Adam was created in gods image, not Eve. If being created in the image of god meant being created with all gods faculties, then Adam would have been god.

            ” AV Veratu knows that he *must* be born again, but has yet to commit himself.” Who are you addressing?

      • AV Veratu

        Religion is actually a form of Deontological morality.

  • Ossettian

    Didn’t Gove throw a temper-tantrum when Parliament voted against taking action to overthrow the Alawite regime in Syria, which is the protector of Syrian Christians?

  • Fak_Zakaix

    When I meet a person who tells me to “turn the other cheek” (supposedly that rara avis, a Christian) I punch their face hard and surprise, surprise, they turn the other cheek… I love Christians!

  • Hegelman

    Why I Am Not a Christian: Michael Gove is.

    Nuff said.

    • pobjoy

      Or do you think that Gove is not a Christian, and want an excuse to refuse to become one yourself?

  • Hegelman

    Socialism had its great human cost – but then so did Christianity and Islam. And still we respect whatever human values the latter created. So should we value socialism and Marxism. That is the general Russian attitude today to Lenin.

  • Ormond Otvos

    The failed argument technique is “No Real Scotsman.” Look it up.

    His whole argument is that “No Real Christian” would do bad things, after enumerating many many bad things admittedly Christian people have done.

    None of them are Real Christians.

    BS.

    • pobjoy

      ‘Look it up.’

      Where can one look it up and pay to do so?

      • Ormond Otvos
        • pobjoy

          It seems that ‘Ormond Otvos’ can find no reference to this argument that is paid for, i. e. of academic/moral respectability, so, after perhaps five hours search, in desperation, presents one that is obviously free of charge!!

          Which dire strait says everything one needs to know about the intelligence and propriety of the source of what is actually the ‘true Scotsman fallacy’ fallacy.

          • Ormond Otvos

            An interesting insight: that arguments need financial support => only money talks honestly or morally.

            I didn’t search very desperately, merely typed “true Scotsman” into the Google bar.

            Dire Straits is a very competent rock band.

            I think you’re a bit nuts, in an academic Kaczinsky sort of way…

          • pobjoy

            ‘An interesting insight: that arguments need financial support => only money talks honestly or morally.’

            🙂 That’s an interesting angle, at least. But it reflects only part of the rich tapestry of human relationships, a cynical, if realistic one, in some ways. But, believe it or not, humanity is not always base, in that way. If a concept wins approval in academia, where it has to pass peer review under rigorous scrutiny, it becomes part of the reference used by academia. Johnson’s Dictionary and the Encyclopédie of the Enlightenment are notable early examples of collation of such concepts, that changed the way people thought, to think more clearly. But neither the Dictionary nor the Encyclopédie was acquired cheaply. That ‘law’ was and remains just a fact of life. Because, one has to pay for reliable information today, i. e. reference works, such as Chambers Dictionary, or Encyclopedia Britannica; and this ‘True Scotsman Fallacy’, though popular, is found in none, because it is itself a fallacy, as explained elsewhere in this blog. One might therefore suggest that it has become a foolish deceit, a plaything for dunces, via the internet. IOW, avoid, because it encourages people to *fail* to think.

            In a textbook of philosophy, one might come across the name of Duns Scotus, and skeptic readers might do much better to study his ideas, rather than talk vainly about sugar on porridge. One might better be able to counter the notions of Michael Gove, also.

  • Ormond Otvos

    Religion and government can’t co-exist as power brokers.

    Constitutional democracy means separation of church and state, but it doesn’t mean majority religious tyranny.

    That’s why we write constitutions, to guarantee rights of the reasonable majority that don’t believe fairytales.

    His example of the evangelical philanthropist presumes that the philanthropist attaches no religiously based moral conditions on his largesse.

    I seriously doubt it.

  • Matt Begley

    The following is one of the most absurd paragraphs ever written;
    “Well, the kind of people who built our civilisation, founded our democracies, developed our modern ideas of rights and justice, ended slavery, established universal education and who are, even as I write, in the forefront of the fight against poverty, prejudice and ignorance. In a word, Christians.”
    If by “the forefront of the fight against poverty, prejudice and ignorance.” they mean that they are on the wrong side of all three, keeping people impoverished and thus weak and desperate, promoting prejudice against anyone they don’t approve of, as well as demanding intentional ignorance of their flock.

  • George McCoy

    I wonder after reading Michael Gove’s article if he had ever reflected on the fact that had been born in Ireland rather than Scotland, his natural mother would most probably have been imprisoned without trial indefinitely in a Magdalene Laundry and that the most practically successful opponent of Hitler’s genocidal policies was a dissolute irreligious lothario called Oscar Schindler, not the White Rose movement. The truth is there are good and bad in all sectors of society including both politics and religion and while, to paraphrase Lord Hailsham, hypocrisy might have been the glue that kept our society together in the 1960’s, the younger generation these days has no time for it or for that matter superstitious religious belief.

    • soysauce1

      Complete nonsense, for one thing the Magdalene laundries were first invented by a protestant pastor and the model deemed so successful that they were adopted not only by catholic charities but by western governments including liberal countries like Sweden as for Schindler he was brought up as a catholic and saved between 2,000-3,000 workers. As for thousands of lives the Pope instructed his parishes to take in any Jewish people and issue them with baptismal certificates, shelter and help, many thousands were saved that way and many Catholics died helping as a result.

      • George McCoy

        The points I was trying to make were simply that Christian organisations (and I think that Protestants and Catholics are as bad as one another) can behave outrageously and that people whose behaviour can be considered outrageous by churches can behave exceptionally well in unusual circumstances and should not be condemned for weaknesses in their previous moral behaviour. For too long religion has been an excuse for asserting unwarranted personal moral superiority and consequently has become irrelevant to most thinking people.

  • The Reincarnated Sausage

    Cultural Marxism

    Wage a war against christianity

    Subvert and destroy the traditional family

    Erode free speech with political correctness and identity politics

    Sexualize children

    End the nation state

    All being done behind the scenes by the fifth columnists on all sides of the political spectrum

  • AverageGuyInTheStreet

    Religions are invented as a means of population/mind control and to provide a hierarchical power structure that benefits those at the top. As we now have modern systems of government and a mostly enlightened population, its time for us to consign religions to the dustbin of history. Those millions who are now crawling around our country in pyjamas and binliners can either see sense or go to the loony bin.

  • lenzicon

    Who opposes Abortion? Christians. Who opposes gay marriage? Christians. Who is against voluntary medical assisted suicide? Christians.

  • Iain Bainbridge

    This is possibly the first time I have agreed with virtually all Michael Gove has to say!

  • cromwell

    The Abrahamic religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the cause of most of the worlds problems.

    • pobjoy

      There was only one Abraham, and there can be only one faith of Abraham.

      Judaism does not cause many problems, of itself. Catholicism causes many problems, but then it is opposed to Christianity, that would bring an end to ‘most every problem, were it widely practised.

      • Hironimous Nostril

        No true Scotsman fallacy. Of course Catholics are Christians, their church defined Christianity.

        • pobjoy

          Why should their church, as supposed, be believed?

          They also defined all non-Catholics as pagans. And similar goes for all Christian claimants. So one might say that there are no Christians, by the logic that you use.

          • Hironimous Nostril

            So the Catholics are also guilty of the same no true Scotsman fallacy. That’s the problem with only having an imaginary god. Nobody to sort things out.

          • pobjoy

            It’s a very daft lie, that Scotsman thing, a false analogy, and Wiki could be prosecuted for publishing it. Don’t copy and paste everything!

            Of course a Scot who puts sugar on porage is still a Scot, and will be till he dies. He cannot change it! But people can change their beliefs, and their behaviour, and if behaviour does not match stated belief, they are thrown out of their society. So a member of the vegetarian society gets thrown out for eating meat, But the lowest of the low invented this exception for Christians, who throw out any who even get habitually angry, never mind commit the crimes that Catholic leaders have committed. Which invention, one may suppose, is unsurprising.

            So, if I say that a murderer can be a Christian, I may be saying it only because I am too cowardly to stop hating people and behave in a decent, honest and sympathetic way and become a Christian.

  • pobjoy

    ‘suggesting that the Prime Minister and the President found it easier to go to war in Iraq because their Christianity made them see everything narrowly in terms of good and evil, black and white, them and us’

    Anyone who thinks that the American occupation of Iraq took note of moral considerations, except for publicity purposes, needs to do a reality check. The West and the Russians were supplying materiel to Saddam for decades before that, despite the moral objections of ‘little people’ whose voices were never heard in the media.

    ‘Where once politicians who were considering matters of life and death might have been thought to be helped in their decision-making by Christian thinking’

    As ever, war is a very expensive business, and no politician can contemplate it today without the say-so of big capital. Capitalists did not get where they are by being nice. The consideration that politicians have had in respect of Christian thinking is how their pragmatic decisions could be made to *seem* morally acceptable.

    ‘— by reflecting on the tradition of Augustine and Aquinas’

    The Inquisitions were applied, the Armada was launched, the appalling Thirty Years’ War was fought for the sake of their goddammed tradition!

  • BoneChina

    Great article, even for someone (like me) basically suspicious of the Cult of Paul, up to this, where it goes right off the rails:

    “Christianity, by contrast, _like Judaism_ before it, gives every individual the dignity of a soul…” (_my emphasis_)

    Wha… Wait!

    Judaism is a tribal religion, like Islam and many others, albeit a more ancient one.

    Read the Old Testament. Slaves? Check. Kill them all? Check. Don’t even take them as concubines once you’ve killed all their menfolk and male children; JUST KILL THEM ALL? Mostly, check! (See King Soloman and what happens next…) The whole circumcision thing was in fact a prelude to a genocide (Oh, I forget which one… there are just loads and loads; really that’s most of the OT).

    Judaism, as described in the ‘before Christianity’ bit, at least, is about God’s chosen people dominating and – let’s be honest – annihilating the rest of the (then known) world. Dignity of a soul? Not for the Caananites, Philistines (that’s Palestinians to you), Amelekites etc…

    Need pictures with your olde-worlde scrolls? Try this:

    http://www.thebricktestament.com/king_saul/index.html

    Shame about that. I was nearly persuaded that Christianity was more solution than problem for the beleaguered UK… God knows, it needs help.

    Almost a great article; definitely a fascinating mind (Gove). Unforgivable error, though, IM(ns)HO.

    • pobjoy

      ‘Judaism is a tribal religion’

      Anyone could become an Israelite, from the very start. Indeed, that was the idea. There were many converts in the Graeco-Roman world in the centuries before Jesus, because Judaism offered a less licentious and a more credible alternative to the lifestyles and beliefs of many citizens, who were invariably religious.

      ‘Read the Old Testament.’

      People turn to that when they have read the New, and found it meat too strong. It has always been too strong for

      ‘murderers, for adulterers, for sexual perverts, for slave-traders, for those who lie and commit perjury, or who do anything else contrary to healthy teaching. That teaching is found in the gospel.’ 1 Tim 1:9-11

      • BoneChina

        “Anyone could become an Israelite, from the very start.”

        I don’t know how you get this conclusion. The very start is surely, the thing Sparkling Moon quotes above:

        “And I will make _of thee_ a great nation…”

        So you think that means “you and whoever wants to convert” – with no (or even little) reference to a tribe rooted in kin? That’s pretty new to me. I think He’s talking about Abraham’s progeny. I really don’t think that’s an unconventional view; nor one which lacks evidence in the OT.

        It seems pretty clear in Exodus – and the battles that occur before and along the way – that there is an ‘inclusivity / exclusivity’ axis limiting membership.

        Before and during Exodus, could Elohim have encouraged the Egyptians to be hard-headed as the Jews prepared to leave, and left Egypt (in order to ensure the Egyptians suffered horribly as a result) if He really regarded them as – even potential – fellow travellers? What about the peoples I mentioned – the Amelekites, Caananites, Philistines etc…

        Judaism is _even now_ a religion which doesn’t encourage conversion (EG proselytizing – sp?), and the OT, along with the generalized perception, I would say, does imply strongly that there is such a thing as the Chosen People. You can’t have that without a remainder of the unchosen. Saying that the choice is man-to-God, or even two-way, doesn’t work on an OT reading at all. God chose Abraham, not the other way around.

        A bit of fun:

        “How odd of God to choose the Jews,
        But not as odd as those who choose
        A Jewish God, but spurn the Jews.”

        This doesn’t even work if you’re right with the statement: “Anyone could become an Israelite, from the very start.”

        “People turn to that [the OT] when they have read the New, and found it meat too strong. It has always been too strong for[…]”

        Perhaps some do. Personally, I find the opposite: The OT is strong [compelling] precisely because it makes sense as a strong cohesive force for a persecuted people… That’s conspicuously lacking in the NT.

        I was under the impression that Judaism doesn’t accept JC as messiah, and therefore would probably reject the bulk of the NT. Is that wrong?

        *Edit: Last paragraph: Changed OT to NT.

        • pobjoy

          ‘I think He’s talking about Abraham’s progeny.’

          But there were many who were of no blood relation to Abraham who became Israelites or Jews (some included in the lineage of Jesus), so that cannot be the meaning. The only meaning can be that those who, like Abraham, are justified by their faith in Abraham’s deity, are his progeny. That deity is identified through his bloodline as Jesus of Nazareth, who was prophesied to be descended through Isaac, of the tribe of Judah, and a descendant of David; and this, according to the NT, was actually the case, and the contemporary Sanhedrin, who vigorously opposed Jesus, who held all the genealogical records, could not disprove it.

          ‘Judaism is _even now_ a religion which doesn’t encourage conversion’

          If Jesus was the Messiah, can Jews be other than Christians?

          • BoneChina

            Thanks for the reply. If:

            “…there were many who were of no blood relation to Abraham who became Israelites or Jews (some included in the lineage of Jesus), so that _cannot be the meaning_.”

            Then I have a question:

            Where does the line fall? Who can be included in the Chosen People, and who can’t? (Bearing in mind the OT.)

            More questions (and reiterations):

            I raised the point that God chose Abraham; not the other way around. Besides saying that Abraham accepted God (the easy way out?), how can you address the direction of the line of choice. You seem to be suggesting that it is indeed man who chooses God and becomes a Chooser, NOT God who chooses man who becomes Chosen. Is this what you believe? The NT would support that. The OT… not really. Not even a little bit. Feel free to quote…

            There’s a bit in Exodus where they’re just about to wipe out a people (as I mentioned, they do this a lot), and God decrees that everyone has to get circumcised before the fight, toute-de-suite. Is this the ‘barrier to entry’? Is that what you mean by:

            “…those who, like Abraham, are justified by their faith in Abraham’s deity…” I’m not going to ask if you’re circimcised, because that would be TMI. But…

            “If Jesus was the Messiah, can Jews be other than Christians?”

            One way of interpreting this question is that Jews must be included by Christians as Christians, regardless of the rejection of Christ and Christianity by (some of) them throughout history and to the present day.

            This seems pretty arbitrary, but in true-believer Christian terms (which are famously accommodating) it could be justified.

            Another way: Any Jew who doesn’t accept Jesus as the Messiah is no true Jew. Respectfully, I believe you’ve been hit with the ‘No true Scotsman’ fallacy accusation on these pages before. If this is your interpretation, you need to be sure to add salt, not sugar, to your porridge.

            So, to the point: I still think that the God of the Jewsis (wow – accident or divine intervention?) the God of a people and a place, defined by geography (Israel / Judea) and tribe (including historical diasporas, but limited to at least a degree by kinship). The OT makes this abundantly clear. I think the NT is a political reinvention of that God, expedient to the Roman Empire and subsequent western civilizations. It’s done us very well until about 40 years ago.

            It’s not working now.

          • pobjoy

            ‘Where does the line fall?’

            Ever since the total sack of Jerusalem by the Romans, and their dispossession of Judea, it has become impossible to prove oneself a Jew by the standards of the Tanakh, because the central records were destroyed at that time.

            ‘You seem to be suggesting that it is indeed man who chooses God’

            It’s not a question of making a choice. It’s a question of acceptance by deity. Until Abram, the question that people around the world asked was, “How can I be accepted in an afterlife?” They offered sacrifices, went on pilgrimages, lit candles and devised other rituals, always making efforts to compensate for what they had done that they knew to be wrong. Here was a deity who said that one only had to *believe* what deity says to be accepted. Deity would accept anyone who believed, and of course showed that they believed by what they did, which Abraham also showed. The OT and the NT are completely in agreement on this very principle, the faith of Abraham and other OT figures being cited often.

            ‘God decrees that everyone has to get circumcised’

            Circumcision was evidence of faith in a context of societal commitment, but also a metaphor for future conversion by the Messiah (“Circumcise your hearts!”). As Paul taught, that rite is not applicable now, because the church is not coterminous with any society, and because ‘heart circumcision’ is the necessary requirement for church membership.

            ‘Jews must be included by Christians as Christians, regardless of the rejection of Christ’

            For one thing, ‘circumcision of the heart’ is impossible if Jesus is refused as Messiah; and Christians are people who never refuse to meet other Christians, and Jews would refuse to make that appointment.

            ‘be sure to add salt, not sugar, to your porridge’

            Oh, absolutely. Not even maple syrup.

            ‘the NT is a political reinvention of that God, expedient to the Roman Empire’

            On the contrary, the Romans merely dressed their old pagan religions in a cloak of NT terminology. That was after they found that persecuting Christians only made more Christians. “The blood of the martyrs is seed.” Their solution was to make *everyone* ‘Christian’; hence the word ‘Catholic’.

          • BoneChina

            “Ever since the total sack of Jerusalem by the Romans, and their dispossession of Judea, it has become impossible to prove oneself a Jew by the standards of the Tanakh, because the central records were destroyed at that time.”

            “_by the standards of the Tanakh_”

            Point taken (plus history lesson and Hebrew acronym learned, thanks). But I’m not insisting on the standards of the Tanakh. My question continues: “Who can be included in the Chosen People, and who can’t? (Bearing in mind the OT.)” I believe the answers found in the OT (tribe) and the NT (universal humankind) are incompatible, if not contradictory.

            Anyway, beyond the standards of the Tanakh, the question I asked is not answered here, although it is answered, probably in many different ways, by many different Rabbis, (and priests) according to many different circumstances.

            “Here was a deity who said that one only had to *believe* what deity says to be accepted.”

            NT: Yes. OT: I really don’t see it. Importantly, deity (your syntax) also insisted any other deity false, and appreciation (worship) of such other deity _totally not cool_. This is really important, because it was, at the time (of accommodating empires), quite unusual. And it persists even through Christianity today. (One True God…)

            Re Circumcision: “As Paul taught, that rite is not applicable now,”

            Some people haven’t received the memo on this one. Circumcision is not only still happening, but it’d be fair to say it’s ‘de rigueur’ for males among those families who actually do consider themselves religiously Jewish. I know you know this. I’m sorry if pointing it out seems patronizing. It’s not meant that way. But the way your response is phrased, it’d be remiss not to state it in reply. Circumcision is still (how many centuries after that story?) an absolute must for the (family to insist upon the assumed-to-be) religious Jewish male. To reiterate for clarity: There has been no successful rejection, reinvention, or even significant re-thinking of circumcision in _Jewish_ religious practice. An uncircumcised adult man is not a religious Jew.

            “Romans merely dressed their old pagan religions in a cloak of NT terminology.”

            Can’t disagree with that. O Tannenbaum! etc. But it’s not as significant as it sounds. This is what passed for state / monarchy conversion in religious transfers of power back in the day. Judaism is exceptional in its (successful) refusal to comply with this broad convention/assimilation.

            It’s late where I am. Thanks, but I’m out until I’m up again.

          • pobjoy

            ‘My question continues: “Who can be included in the Chosen People, and who can’t?’

            The ‘Chosen People’, the Israelites of the Tanakh/OT no longer exist, if the NT is valid. If the NT is invalid, then, because nobody can prove him/herself an Israelite, one still cannot say that there are any Chosen People. If the people who have attempted to maintain observance of the OT’s laws and festivals are the Chosen People, then one has to wonder why

            a) their deity has not provided proof of individual identity as found necessary in the days of the prophets;

            b) because of a), there is no possibility of identifying a Messiah by use of the lineage specified as that of the Messiah;

            c) there is no Covenant (Agreement) Ark;

            d) there is no ‘Holy of Holies’ in Tabernacle or Temple, or Levitical order to serve them;

            e) there is no Aaronic priesthood to offer the sacrifices commanded as essential;

            f) there was no homeland or Promised Land for Israel for nearly 2000 years, and the homeland now provided was by virtue of very grubby politics, and cannot be said to be the work of the perfect Tanakh deity;

            g) fewer than 300 of the 612 Mosaic Laws are even susceptible of observance;

            h) there has been no prophetic ministry among Jews for 2600 years.

            All of these absences are of conditions that one would expect to be still in place if the deity of the Jews was still ‘interested’ in the Mosaic dispensation, and had not moved on to something better, as prophetic witness declared would occur.

            To this hollowed out religion is the appointment of a rabbinate that was never authorised by the Tanakh, despite the command in that scripture that nothing be added to it; the ‘replacement’ of Mosaic Law with laws devised by those ‘rabbis’, particularly, today, dietary laws that, to outsiders, seems obsessively finicky. Then there is the modern, widespread, unauthorised discounting of much of the Tanakh as Jewish scripture, including the record of the patriarchs, including Abraham, and the writings of the Prophets. So modern Jews have ‘topped and tailed’ their history, in order to focus on one aspect of Judaism, Law observance. Then there is the variation of religious opinion among those claiming to be Jews on ethnic grounds; despite this variation, it is very unlikely that Israelites of say, the time of the pioneer Joshua, the ‘mid-term’ prophet Samuel, or Hezekiah, 13th king of Judah, would recognise *any* of those claiming to be Jews today as Israelites.

            Yes, Jews can claim to be the Chosen People, but one wonders how meaningful a claim that can be.

            ‘Some people haven’t received the memo on this one.’

            By and large, those who claim to be Christians have received it. This is almost certainly because Paul was very explicit in his letter to the Galatians that circumcision in order to be justified was to wreck one’s salvation. It did not stop the Romans from making water baptism an equally destructive substitute for circumcision, though.

            Of course Jews take no notice whatever of Paul, and carry on with bodily circumcision. It would be astonishing if they did otherwise, because it is the *only* original practice of Israelites that remains intact. Though actually it goes back to Abraham.

            ‘Judaism is exceptional in its (successful) refusal to comply with this broad convention/assimilation.’

            It’s not as simple as that. Anti-Semitism in its modern form dates from the time that the Empire stopped persecuting Christians by obvious means and called itself Christian (“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”). This provided a problem vis-à-vis the Jews, for several reasons. One was that Judaism infracted the principle of catholicity; one could not properly claim to be a catholic empire if there were dissenters. Most ‘pagan’ religions of Rome were of Roman sourcing, adapted, as they often were, to the avaricious ends of Roman patricians. Of course, Roman patricians could dispense with them if they so chose. But the Empire’s new religion was ostensibly *sourced* from Judaism, and could not be merely terminated in the way that other religions were suddenly closed down. So Romans could not merely exterminate all Jews, because it would not only appear to be malicious massacre, and obviously unChristian, but also to attack their own roots, as supposed.

            Another reason is that the Jews knew Hebrew, of course, and therefore held knowledge to provide what Romans considered the proper interpretation of most of the Bible, even if they, the Jews, did not agree with it. That presence was a constant danger to a religion that preserved the Bible, yes, but in an aspic of increasingly remote Latin as quickly as it could. Also, Roman Catholicism bore much similarity to Judaism (works justification), and comparisons, as they say, are odious (and riskily odorous, too!). Or perhaps, embarrassing.

            So the compromise solution to all these conflicts was to ghettoise Jews, to practise a sort of apartheid; which strategy lasted into modern times. So Judaism did not refuse to comply with convention. It was not *allowed* to comply with convention, to be assimilated. Perhaps that will change in future, though.

          • BoneChina

            Sorry if this turns out to be repeat post. I thought I posted it earlier, but it didn’t come up…:

            “Ever since the total
            sack of Jerusalem by the Romans, and their dispossession of Judea, it has
            become impossible to prove oneself a Jew by the standards of the Tanakh,
            because the central records were destroyed at that time.”

            “_by the standards of the Tanakh_”

            Point taken (plus history lesson and Hebrew
            acronym learned, thanks). But I’m not insisting on the standards of the Tanakh.
            My question continues: “Who can be included in the Chosen People, and who
            can’t? (Bearing in mind the OT.)” I believe the answers found in the OT
            (tribe) and the NT (universal humankind) are not compatible, if not
            contradictory.

            Anyway, beyond the standards of the Tanakh, the
            question I asked is not answered here, although it is answered, probably in
            many different ways, by many different Rabbis, (and priests) according to many
            different circumstances.

            “Here was a deity who said that one only had
            to *believe* what deity says to be accepted.”

            NY: Yes. OT: I really don’t see it. Importantly,
            Deity (your syntax) also insisted any other deity false, and appreciation
            (worship) of such other deity totally not cool. This is really important,
            because it was, at the time (of accommodating empires), quite unusual. And it
            persists even through Christianity today. (One True God..)

            Re Circumcision: “As Paul taught, that rite
            is not applicable now,”

            Some people haven’t received the memo on this one.
            Circumcision is not only still happening, but it’d be fair to say it’s ‘de
            rigueur’ for males among those people who actually do consider themselves
            religiously Jewish. I know you know this. I’m sorry if pointing it out seems
            patronizing. It’s not meant that
            way. But the way your response is phrased, it’d be remiss not to state it in
            reply. Circumcision is still (how many centuries after that story?) an absolute
            must for the (family to insist upon the assumed-to-be) religious Jewish male.
            To reiterate for clarity: There has been no successful rejection,
            reinvention, or even significant re-thinking of circumcision in _Jewish_
            religious practice. An uncircumcised adult man is not a religious Jew.

            “Romans merely dressed their old pagan
            religions in a cloak of NT terminology.”

            Can’t disagree with that. O Tannenbaum! etc.
            But it’s not as significant as it sounds. This is what passed for
            conversion in religious transfers of power back in the day. Judaism is
            exceptional in its (successful) refusal to comply with this broad convention.

            It’s late where I am. Thanks, but I’m out until
            I’m up again.

    • SparklingMoon,

      Judaism is a tribal religion, like Islam and many others, albeit a more ancient one.
      ———————————————–
      The universal message of Islam addresses whole mankind and it never speaks to a particular tribe or nation. As we see in the Bible that God had made many promises to the Patriarch Abraham.: ”And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing ….And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2-3).

      This covenant of blessing ,God Almighty made with Abraham, starts with the people of Israel and remained tribal in the beginning as this blessing of revelation was confined to the progeny of Israel. God Almighty sent prophets in the area only among the people of Israel for fourteenth hundred years. Mosaic Law was for the people of Israel. In Leviticus, Moses (as) addressed, from first to last verse, the people of Israel only: ”The Lord called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting. He said, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them” (Leviticus: 1,2) ”These are the commands the Lord gave Moses at Mount Sinai for the Israelites.”(Leviticus 27:34 ) Jesus (sa) was also sent for people of Israel to bring them back to real teachings of Mosaic Law as he says in the Bible : ”Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfill. (Matthew 5 : 17 ). Jesus said clearly : “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15 : 24).

      This covenant of blessing that was racial in the beginning turned into universal after the revelation of the Quran. Its message calls all nations to its message as Prophet of Islam was ordered by God Almighty [7:159] Say, ‘O mankind! truly I am a Messenger to you all from Allah to Whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. There is no God but He. He gives life, and He causes death. So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the Prophet, the Immaculate one, who believes in Allah and His words; and follow him that you may be rightly guided.’

      • pobjoy

        ‘As we see in the Bible’

        So why do Muslims not accept the whole Bible? Why do they pick parts that do not involve human contrition, and gratitude for atonement, but say that the parts that do involve that contrition and grateful commitment are not authentic? It’s all much too convenient.

        And the eisegesis, as displayed above, is absurd beyond words.

        • BoneChina

          Below, not above.

          • pobjoy

            Explain, or get labelled a troublemaker.

      • BoneChina

        Thanks for this. I stand corrected on Islam in particular. You’re right: It is ill-described as a tribal religion (although many Muslims will tell you that the only true reading of the Koran is in Arabic, but let’s let that pass, rather than arguing whether it makes Islam arguably an Arabic religion).

        I think the point stands, though, that Judaism _is_ a tribal religion, and that the God of Israel is a god of a place(Israel) and a people (the people of Israel / Judea). Someone’s attacked this above, and I’ll respond….

        • pobjoy

          ‘I think the point stands, though, that Judaism _is_ a tribal religion’

          You forgot that anyone could become an Israelite, from the very start. That was actually the idea of being an Israelite, remember. There were many converts in the Graeco-Roman world in the centuries before Jesus, because Judaism offered a less licentious and a more credible alternative to the lifestyles and beliefs of many citizens, who were invariably religious.

          And licentiousness is not nice, is it.

  • Tynam

    Side note: I notice that the entire Conservative party has suddenly become really public about how Christian they are. It’s almost like there’s an election coming.

    • Gerschwin

      There is an election. May 7th. Do keep up.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        However, as a resident abroad Brit, logistically there’s no way I can register a vote with such a limited lead time. And don’t suggest postal voting where the Muslim run Post office can doctor your vote. Better not to vote at all than casting a vote for the Paedophile Protection Party. So no taxation without representation, HMG.
        Jack, Japan Alps

  • rtj1211

    I’m afraid faith is NOT the foundation of our civilisation.

    Our civilisation glorifies electronic surveillance, blackmail and thievery at the very highest levels. Oh, it’s not so crude as breaking and entering in physical terms, but it is precisely that in electronic terms.

    Now I grant you that blackmail was the status quo of the Church in the UK for over a millennium, somehow convincing a credulous populace to hand over 10% of their income in ‘tithes’ every year. If they were dealing in drugs rather than religious mantras, you would call that extortion, but that’s just a minor irritating little detail.

    Our society is founded on blackmail.

    Always has been, always will be. And as long as we are the dog on a lead for the Americans, that won’t ever change.

    • pobjoy

      ‘Now I grant you that blackmail was the status quo of the Church in the UK for over a millennium, somehow convincing a credulous populace to hand over 10% of their income in ‘tithes’ every year.’

      That was certainly the ‘church’ that Gove and many Tories would identify with today, but it was nothing remotely like the true church, that ceased to exist for a millennium or so, in Europe, anyway. Tithing was a feature of the economy of Israel, did not survive for long, and has nothing at all to do with the church.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    A man sees a boy with a box of kittens. The man goes over and says, “Oh what cute kittens!” The boy replies, “Yes, they are Christian kittens”. About a week later the man sees the boy again with the same batch of kittens. Once again he walks over and says, “My, those are just adorable!” The boy replies “Yes, they are atheist kittens”. The man asks, “Wait, weren’t they Christian before?” The boy looks at the man and says, “Yeah but now they have their eyes open”.

    • pobjoy

      That’s about as academic as atheism gets!

      • William_Brown

        As plainly weak as the ‘kitten’ argument is, it is no more fanciful than the argument for religion.

        • pobjoy

          Any liar can type that. It takes brains to prove it.

          • Hironimous Nostril

            The kittens story is possible and plausible. The resurrection story is neither.

          • pobjoy

            So it may be true that religion is for the ‘blind’. But an analogy is not proof of it. Analogies are to illustrate that which has been proved. They should have taught you that in school.

            While there remains no proof of atheism, religions are all more or less plausible.

          • Hironimous Nostril

            Atheism doesn’t require proof.

          • William_Brown

            I’m a liar now? Interesting…

          • pobjoy

            You are *now*. 🙂

    • justejudexultionis

      Pathetic ‘argument’ for atheism. Couldn’t you adduce some rational argument rather than using childish stories?

      • Hironimous Nostril

        That’s a joke, not an argument for atheism. The countless warring factions of religious nuts and drooling insanity of all theistic beliefs is the argument for atheism. Overwhelmingly so.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Childish stories, that just about sums up Christianity, and the gullible Muppets that suck it up hook, line and rapture.

  • Captain pissy pants mistress

    Ah Gove saying the unsayable ,because its been said to death…. yet to be resurrected by this brave Easter epistle from a mimsy quisling dwarf tart martyr christian come barber shop dummy punch show villan. The trouble is you just cant kill the undead nowadays, him or Quentin Letts.

  • http://rantingoldgit.blogspot.co.uk/ Arthur Sparknottle

    There is no doubt that many Christian people have done good. It is also true that many have done the opposite and have used their beliefs to persecute others. But this is not the point. The problem with Christianity, something it shares with other religions, is that its adherents base their morality and their thinking on a pre-modern misapprehension – a lie in fact – the idea that there is some supernatural, personal creator god who observes us all and is interested in what we do. This is such obvious idiotic clap-trap, that one can scarcely believe that belief in it would not disqualify one from office. No person who has ever looked out at our galaxy with its 100 billion (perhaps 200 billion)stars, and then realised that our Milky Way is but one of billions of such galaxies separated by unthinkable voids, could come to the conclusion that a personal god created it and cares what is done by the minute creatures which infest some of its planets. The idea is insane – the product of pre-modern ages of ignorance, and is utterly ridiculous. Believing in such a thing, exposes weakness and stupidity, a willingness to self delusion, a grabbing at some unlikely means of defeating the finality of death. I have no respect at all for anyone who believes in such a thing, because they have wilfully set their face against reality. This is why Tony Blair took us into Iraq – God told him to apparently. Contemptible!

    • pobjoy

      ‘It is also true that many have done the opposite and have used their beliefs to persecute others.’

      How do we know that they were Christians? Maybe they were people pretending to be Christians.

      • justejudexultionis

        A lot of people have claimed to be Christians without understanding the basic teachings of the Gospel, in particular the central dogma that Jesus Christ died for sinners on Calvary.

        • pobjoy

          Yes, I agree. Many think that they are Christians, they are told so by people who know that they are not Christians. So there are Christians; pretend Christians who understand Calvary well, but don’t like it; and a larger number of people who think they are Christians for some reason like ‘church’ attendance.

        • Hironimous Nostril

          That dying for sinners thing. Could you explain how it works?

          • pobjoy

            The person who feels guilt is grateful for being saved from both guilt and its eternal punishment. Out of gratitude, he/she lives a life of gratitude.

            Some people find this too much of a strain on their behaviour, and do all they can to stop people from living lives that put them to shame.

          • Hironimous Nostril

            So a kind of scapegoating. Eternal punishment is impossible of course.

          • pobjoy

            ‘So a kind of scapegoating.’

            It’s how you got the word.

            ‘Eternal punishment is impossible of course.’

            True, but it’s the best way to explain it to temporal minds.

          • Hironimous Nostril

            Temporal as opposed to deluded?

          • Feminister

            Well it’s a human sacrifice. Like the animal version the carcass assuages the deity’s wrath and s/he looks kindly on you for a while. He forgives the wrong doings and you have a clean slate, good harvests, no disease epidemics, deformed babies, win your wars, etc.

    • justejudexultionis

      On the contrary, atheism is the irrational and absurd belief system. Materialists would have us believe that the entire cosmos made itself out of nothing for no purpose. Belief in a omnipotent creator God is far more reasonable. Where there is causality, there must be purpose.

      • Hironimous Nostril

        Dead men must come back to life as gods and the universe was made with a magic incantation. That can only make sense to someone that perceives thinking as something only other people do.

      • http://rantingoldgit.blogspot.co.uk/ Arthur Sparknottle

        The mistake you are making is in believing that your own internal musings will lead you to a revelation about what is. On the contrary, they will not. It seems to have escaped your notice that the entire progress we have made in the last three hundred years from misery, poverty, ignorance and servitude has been made on the back of a different paradigm entirely; empiricism and the scientific method. This depends on certain principles:

        1. Only observable data is evidence.
        2. Observed FACTS may be used to construct theories which explain what is.
        3. These ‘ theories’ are only ever tentative; based on what the evidence shows. When the evidence changes, the theories are abandoned.

        Your answer is to imagine what created the world and without evidence, or critical testing, go around proclaiming it. Pointless, stupid, wrong and medieval.

    • GraveDave

      he idea that there is some supernatural, personal creator god who observes us all and is interested in what we do.

      There is – it’s called The Nanny State. And the Tories love it as much as New Labour did.

  • abystander

    Atheism postulates no rational morality.

    As Hume made clear,Kant confirmed and Nietzsche wrote atheism cannot get from is to ought.

    Only theist systems can.

    • Hironimous Nostril

      Morality doesn’t come from religion. Whatever makes you think it does?

      • abystander

        There is no rational basis for any morality without God.

        If there is one, could you tell me what it is?

        • Hironimous Nostril

          It comes from us, just as all gods come from us. It’s an evolving consensus within society.

          • abystander

            Oh.

            An evolving consensus.

            Stretching from Pyongyang to New York via Tehran and Rome?

            Or across bien pensant dinner party tables in North London?

          • Hironimous Nostril

            Different societies evolve at different rates. More primitive societies tend to have high rates of religious belief. Christianity is a reflection of the society that invented it.

          • abystander

            Evolve as you use it means agreeing with you.

            It also implies a value judgement, by you, of other societies

            What is that based on, apart from a cultural spasm?

            Because its not based on anything rational, is it?

          • Hironimous Nostril

            You don’t have to agree with me personally. Our moral standards now are far higher that those that were when your war god was dreamed up. It’s self evidently the case.

            You can see how our moral values evolve by studying the law over the years. At one time gay people were vilified and jailed, now they can be married. At one time children were hung for petty theft and sent up chimneys, and people were tortured by religious nuts that had the same imaginary friend as you do.

          • abystander

            Self evidently the case. Who says?

            It is clear that different people have different moral values, even in North London, never mind on a wider scale.

            So I am at a loss to know on what rational basis you consider “our” moral standards to be higher given the evident lack of agreement on what is the right and wrong thing to do.

            My argument is that atheists have no rational basis upon which to judge between these competing moral claims. None at all.

            Unlike believers

          • Hironimous Nostril

            Your god thinks slavery and stoning is OK. Do you?

          • http://www.CaerphillyPreserves.co.uk/ No Good Boyo

            Do read Michael Gove’s article, there’s a good chap.

          • abystander

            Christ said “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”

            Perhaps you haven’t read the New Testament.

          • Hironimous Nostril

            Slavery?

          • Geoff Benson

            Quite the reverse. Only atheism can be truly moral. God imposed morals are horrific if taken literally (genocide, rape, incest, you name it), so are ‘interpreted’ to give a more sanitised meaning that we can live with today. This turns god into a consequentialist, the exact opposite of objective morality. All morality as we understand it is consequentialist, that we have to consider the greater good to any action we take. There is, therefore, no place for a deity.

            ‘Modern morality exists at a level much higher than that of the holy texts it so reveres’

          • abystander

            You are ranting now.
            There is no rational way from an observed fact to a moral judgement for an atheist.
            If there is one, can you tell me what it is?
            Any given observation, say you see someone mug an old lady, how , except by appealing to societal norms, does an atheist get to a moral judgement on that act?

          • Geoff Benson

            Not quite sure how you define a rant, but not the same as me.

            Anyhow, ‘societal norms’, yes that’s the idea. They evolved, and are continuing to evolve. Atheists obtain their moral thinking in the same way as believers, though the latter don’t realise it.

            Take a step back and consider the bible, which is where I suppose you think you get your inspiration from. Presumably you assume it gives you proper instructions of some form and you believe these because god is good. Why is god good? Because he says so? If you believe this then at some time you must have made a judgement as to whether god is good, or not. So actually you have, at some time or another, had to judge god. If you can do this then why not just work out a moral code that works.

            That is what society has done over countless hundreds of years, and which continues to be our guide.

          • abystander

            I read the Bible every day.

            As someone points out above “societal norms” could be the societal norms of say Nazi Germany which that society found to be very “evolved”.

            So the fact that a practice is a societal norm says nothing about it being right or wrong.

            Christianity is teleological, it postulates a purpose to your life and everyone’s, which is moving towards and being with Christ.

            So, in a very short writing space, all this, Christianity considers right that which helps you move towards Christ and wrong that which distances you from Christ.

            Its not a question of reading the Bible like a household appliance instruction manual.

          • Geoff Benson

            As I am one who is by no means convinced as to the historical existence of Jesus Christ I’m sure you’ll understand why I regard your view as delusional.

          • abystander

            Well not really.

            I think your comment is offensive and arrogant.

          • Geoff Benson

            Noted.

          • http://www.CaerphillyPreserves.co.uk/ No Good Boyo

            Is the USA a primitive society?

          • http://www.CaerphillyPreserves.co.uk/ No Good Boyo

            So there’s nothing inherently wrong with rounding up the Jewish population and gassing them? All part of the evolving consensus within that society?.

        • cartimandua

          There is because altruism is an Evolutionary advantage.

          • http://www.CaerphillyPreserves.co.uk/ No Good Boyo

            Survival of the fittest is altruistic, is ti?

        • Benjamin O’Donnell

          There is no rational basis for morality WITH god(s). We’ve known that since Plato’s Euthyphro dialogue…

    • Benjamin O’Donnell

      Hume’s is/ought argument was originally an argument for how *theism* (i.e. Christianity) was incapable of founding morality: If you can’t get an ought from an is, then the proposition that “God is real” can’t have any relevance to the foundations of morality. Remember, Hume was an atheist…

      • abystander

        No it wasn’t.

        Hume’s point wasn’t about whether there was or not a God, but an attempt to find a basis for ethics. True, he didn’t find God a basis for ethics but as you point out, how could he, he wasn’t a believer.

        By the way it is debatable that he was an atheist. Scholars tend to the view he was agnostic.

        • Benjamin O’Donnell

          You’ve rather spectacularly missued my point, to the point that you are rather furiously (and comically) agreeing with me on one point. Perhaps you could reread the thread?

  • William_Brown

    Please. Stop. Now.

    I have a lot of time for Mr. Gove, but the religion thing is just an oddity to me. I’m all in favour of freedom to believe, live and let live, etc., but when religion is allowed to inform decision making, above what should be common sense, then it has a propensity to be a very dangerous and negative force indeed.

    • abystander

      Why should atheism inform decision making?

      You think there is one understanding of “common sense”. Naive.

      • Hironimous Nostril

        Atheism is a lack of belief in nonsense, eminently desirable in any politician.

        • http://www.CaerphillyPreserves.co.uk/ No Good Boyo

          As I recall from your previous posts, your belief in atheism is very much an article of faith. You can advance no reason for your position, no reason beyond dogmatic abuse against the opposition position. Rather, you prefer to listen to what your chosen prophet tells you is right or wrong, and chant it ad infinitum with no assurance beyond faith that it’s right. I don’t think you appreciate just how religious you are.

          • Benjamin O’Donnell

            Atheism isn’t a belief or a position, it’s the absence of a belief or position.

          • http://www.CaerphillyPreserves.co.uk/ No Good Boyo

            Not in his case, it isn’t.

          • Benjamin O’Donnell

            In who’s case?

          • http://www.CaerphillyPreserves.co.uk/ No Good Boyo

            Hieronimus Nostril’s

          • Benjamin O’Donnell

            My point seems to be right on the nose with respect to Mr Nostril.

          • Benjamin O’Donnell

            Atheism isn’t a position. Atheism is simply the state of having listened to the case for theism and being singularly underwhelmed.

          • http://www.CaerphillyPreserves.co.uk/ No Good Boyo

            Well, that’s the theory, anyway.

      • William_Brown

        To be called naïve by one who believes in a big daddy in the sky, is truly humbling…

  • Azizi

    Bible & AlQuran has many similarities..

    Jesus said in bible, book of Mark, The lord our God is only 1 lord.

    Muslim believe in 1 god without partners and all prophet include adam, Abraham, moses, solomon, jesus & muhammad saw.

  • http://www.thetippingpointblog.co.uk Matt

    As a Christian, I can identify with some of the attitudes that Gove’s referring to here. Ripping into theists with disdain is quite trendy right now. What I find interesting is that sometimes the people doing this are overstepping the ‘respect all beliefs’ mantra which they’re trying to propagate.

    That said, I’m not a fan of playing the “look at all the benefits that Christendom has given society” card. Those contributions are real but I don’t think there’s much to be gained by trumpeting on about them. Being a follower of Jesus is about taking persecution and criticism on the chin (a la Matthew 5:11-12), not moaning about how other people treat you. All too often Christians have something to apologise for. Sometimes Christians are victims of harsh words. For me, that’s something to submit to God, not to kick up a fuss about.

    • GraveDave

      Christian’s do a lot for the homeless and helping out at food-banks too.

      • http://www.thetippingpointblog.co.uk Matt

        Of course they do. I don’t dispute that for a minute! Personally I believe in getting on with ‘doing the stuff’ (whether social action or theological conversation or, preferably, both) without complaint.

      • Benjamin O’Donnell

        But isn’t doing good in the hope of a reward in the “afterlife” clearly less moral than doing something just because it’s good, with no hope of reward, indeed in the certainty that there will be none? Doesn’t a belief in the afterlife thus actually undermine true morality?

    • Benjamin O’Donnell

      People deserve respect, care and compassion;
      Beliefs deserve criticism, mockery and ridicule.

      • http://www.thetippingpointblog.co.uk Matt

        If you really believe your second statement as a blanket statement about all beliefs, no matter what they say, then imo that’s a pretty sad position. It also categorically flies in the face of your first statement.

        • Benjamin O’Donnell

          Huh? Of course all beliefs & ideas should be criticised, mocked & ridiculed – *especially* the true & good ones. The only way we can know that a belief or idea is true or good is to see it *survive* a long barrage of criticism, mockery and ridicule. That is the essence of true liberalism.

          And yes, as for my belief that people deserve respect, care & compassion, you’re welcome to criticise, mock & ridicule that too. I’ll even listen & consider your arguments as to why some people might not deserve respetc, care & compassion.

          • http://www.thetippingpointblog.co.uk Matt

            So you’re effectively saying that beliefs should be tested in the public sphere? In that case, I agree with you 100%! Long may that continue. But subjecting beliefs to proper scrutiny (ie seeing whether they add up or not in the way you describe) isn’t synonymous with mockery. That was really Gove’s argument in the first place. By all means, let’s have a discussion about whether the claims of Christianity are true or not. But let’s found that debate on respectful dialogue. That’s not so much to ask for, is it?

            This taps into the post-Charlie Hebdo discussion a little. Should someone be *permitted* to mock and ridicule my faith in the public square? Of course they should! But that is not to say that that ridicule is kind, sensible or desirable. The world needs kindness just as much as it needs free speech.

          • Benjamin O’Donnell

            I disagree – mockery & ridicule are essential. The more sacred the idea, the more important that it be subject to mockery & ridicule. Charlie Hebdo & the like provide an essential public service.

          • http://www.thetippingpointblog.co.uk Matt

            Perhaps. It’s still not an example that I’d point out to my kids for how to treat people you disagree with.

          • Benjamin O’Donnell

            Huh? Ideas =/= people. Why can’t you understand that?

            I’d never encourage children to show disrespect for people (indeed, I’d condemn it); but I would strongly encourage them to have a healthy lack of respect for people’s ideas – including mine.

            People deserve respect care & compassion; ideas deserve criticism, mockery & ridicule.

          • Benjamin O’Donnell

            To be clear, if a person is unable to hear their most cherished ideas criticised, mocked & ridiculed, that person is, to that extent, unfit to be a citizen in a liberal democracy.

          • http://www.thetippingpointblog.co.uk Matt

            Well, the point is that the ideas and the people are pretty interlinked. Namely that the ideas are integral to the people who believe them. By ridiculing the idea you’re ridiculing the person (however much you might try not to). As I said in my original comment, I don’t really want to get on my high horse over people belittling my faith. Mockery is still, in view, rudeness, and therefore better avoided if possible.

            Nevertheless, it’d appear that we both believe that ideas/beliefs be subjected to rigorous examination in the public sphere, so we more or less agree. I’d just differ in thinking that ridicule is overstepping the mark.

          • Benjamin O’Donnell

            If you think ridiculing someone’s ideas is functuonally equivalent to ridiculing that person then I’m sorry to say that you are, in my view, insufficiently mature for citizenship in a liberal democracy. And yes, I realise that is a criticism of a person rather than their ideas, and one I don’t make lightly. But the lesson of Charlie Hebdo is that, if you can’t distinguish between mocking ideas or historical figures and mocking real living people, you don’t belong in a liberal democracy. We’ll know that Islam is compatible with liberal democracy when an anti-Islam equivalent of “The Book of Mormon” & “Jerry Springer: The Opera” produced on Broadway or in the West End without anything more than peaceful protests.

          • http://www.thetippingpointblog.co.uk Matt

            I’m not really sure what necessitates a link between your position and democracy. I’m not challenging your freedom to ridicule beliefs (or indeed to vote them down at the ballot box). I’m doubting the wisdom of doing so. Everyone needs to have the basic ability to disagree respectfully with other people, as indeed we appear to be doing at this very moment!

          • Benjamin O’Donnell

            The link with *liberal* democracy was, I thought, made clear by my point about the prospect of an anti-Islam version of “Jerry Springer: The Opera” being produced this decade…

  • cartimandua

    No one can access our great cultural heritage without understanding Christianity.

    • Feminister

      Or X Factor

    • Benjamin O’Donnell

      Understanding, maybe; believing, no.

      • cartimandua

        Mainstream C of E schools don’t require “believing” but we are not teaching it all enough so that students can understand all the symbols in our cultural heritage.
        Modern Protestantism is a “killer app” of Western civilization according to Niall Ferguson and he is quite right. No other variants are.

        • Benjamin O’Donnell

          There are other non-protestant societies that have done quite well in adopting western civilization, such as Japan. And some of the most successful European societies, such as Sweden and Denmark, have been effectively majority atheist for some decades.

          But I do agree that people need to be educated *about* world religions, with a particular focus on the three Abrahamic cults.

          • cartimandua

            Japans militaristic cult didn’t do them much good in WW2.
            The Scandi countries were/ are are predominately Protestant. It was the only variant which permitted science.

  • Peter Bering

    The sad thing is that Gove married Jewish, and by the pervert rules of that tribe anyone who is 50% Jewish trough the mother is vehemently considered 100% Jewish by the Tribe. From a Jewish point of view Gove has exterminated himself in his own children. And even Gove himself seems to be so Zionist and Judaic in many of his utterings that I am not sure about him being Christian anymore.

    • http://www.CaerphillyPreserves.co.uk/ No Good Boyo

      I think you’re doing precisely what Gove’s article was seeking to disprove. No Jew that I’ve met bore any resemblance to what you’ve just described.

      • Peter Bering

        You are just babbling. The Tribe is always bigger than the individual Jew, who is instrumentalized totally independently of how she or he may come across as an individual. Gove’s wife might be very nice, but, according to all Jewish opinion and practice, she goes on and Gove is exterminated in their children.

  • Benches

    Does this Michael Gove really believe this half-arsed guff, or is it a lame effort at shoring up the votes of a drowsy electoral demographic?

    • pobjoy

      One can often work out what people believe from what they say they believe.

  • David Jenkins

    ‘What a lunatic concept to bow down before a God who slaughters millions
    of innocent children, slowly and agonizingly starves them to death,
    beats them, tortures them, rejects them. What folly to even think that
    we should not insult such a God, damn him, think him out of existence.
    It is our duty to think God out of existence.’ Quote – Bad Boy Bubby.

    • pobjoy

      ‘a God who slaughters’

      Surely, one cannot be a deity unless one can slaughter? Especially if one slaughters those who are unfit to live among decent people.

      ‘slowly and agonizingly starves them to death’

      Surely, that is human practice, that deity finds ‘sinful’. It was Roman citizens who routinely left neonates on rubbish tips to die of exposure; a practice that was shamed by the presence of Christians, like much else that was found embarrassing for that reason.

  • Geoff Benson

    What an appalling article.

    Christians frequently express a sentiment that somehow they feel as though they should be ashamed to admit their belief, when meaning really that they are proud of it. Well actually I think you should, at least, be a little embarrassed by it. It’s foolish. It’s based on nothing but cultural habit.

    Faith is nothing more than belief without evidence.

  • barthomew

    Note how Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Comedy Central have been afraid to criticize Muslims and jihadists, and Islamic terrorists, but very willing to criticize and mock Jews and Christians. So those who are doing less evil these days get strong attacks and those who are doing greater evil are let off the hook.
    And one finds traces of this approach among liberals and the President of the United States.

    • Benjamin O’Donnell

      Though not among atheists like Bill Maher, Ricahrd Dawkins or Sam Harris – who hit Islam at least as hard as they hit Christianity.

  • Metoo

    Whilst an interesting read there is one crucial thing missing from this: any reason to believe in a Christian God. There is undoubtedly some prejudices against Christians (I don’t agree with the depth that Mr Gove is describing, but do agree it is there to an extent), but I think most of this comes from the simple basis of not believing in a Christian God. Many people have been citing that Christians have/haven’t been good in history, have/haven’t had power and other arguments but it’s got to come back to the Bible at all times. And there’s the problem for many (well, for me certainly), it is a book riddled with contradictions, imperfections, cruelty (both divine and human) and other problems that I cannot reconcile. It doesn’t rule out the existence of A God, but for me the God described by Christianity – all powerful, all knowing and kind – does not exist in the Bible.

    • pobjoy

      ‘there’s the problem for many (well, for me certainly), it is a book riddled with contradictions, imperfections, cruelty (both divine and human) and other problems that I cannot reconcile.’

      It is the consistency and unexampled perfection, both intellectual and moral, of the 66 books, from Genesis to Revelation, that have persuaded so many educated and influential people to take the Bible seriously, for the last 1700 years, even though they found those qualities unwelcome.

  • The Gimlet Eye™

    The alternative to true faith is this :

    “So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over–a weary, battered old brontosaurus–and became extinct.”

    ― Malcolm Muggeridge, Vintage Muggeridge: Religion and Society

    • pobjoy

      It should not be supposed that Muggeridge personally discovered true religion, which is probably what the poster wants to be thought.

  • ApplyUrBrain

    Pretty galling to make the assertion in this statement: “Christianity… gives every individual the dignity of a soul, the capacity to reason, the right to be heard and equality before the law. Because every individual is — in the image of God — capable of moral judgment, reflection and responsibility.”

    Try telling that to every woman, every gay person, every Catholic (in particular), every person who ever questions a doctrine, practice or Christian notion.

  • http://paulonbooks.blogspot.co.uk/ PaulOnBooks

    What a load of hypocritical tosh.

  • David Hovgaard

    To hear you talk about all the good you think Christianity has done reminds me of a rooster trying to claim credit for the rising of the Sun. Christianity is no more responsible for the rise of Western Civilization then Atlas is responsible for the rotation of the earth about the Sun. In fact Christianity limited man’s progress or did you forget the Dark ages. This was a time when Christian clerics taught the common people to know their place and obey their betters. It was a time when technological and intellectual progress stopped or was thwarted by religious leaders bent on forcing non-believers to obey their dogma. Humanity didn’t advance again until Christianity lost control a secular governments.

  • John McAndrew

    Thank You Michael for your Christian witness.

    Your words to me resonate strongly with Matthew 25 Verse 31

    John McAndrew

  • Dolfina

    Just read this article forwarded by a friend. I am moved and impressed by the clarity and importance of this piece! Thank you, I shall share it widely, especially among increasing skeptical Americans.

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