“Few of us would have guessed, a generation back, that faith would exercise such a pernicious influence upon the 21st century.” Max Hastings in The Times today.
It was a bit naïve to think that the 21st century would be different from all the preceding ones. All faiths require us to suspend our critical faculties, or at least to confine our use of them within the prison walls of dogma. Some faiths are blinder than others of course – you don’t have to believe that wine turns into the blood of Christ when you take communion. But many parts of the world require us to tow the religious line – on pain of death in some cases.
It is possible, indeed quite likely, that our next Prime Minister will be a Hindu – something that would be unthinkable in America’s Head of Government. It was a stretch to elect a Catholic in 1960.
That the church should be disestablished in Britain seems inescapable to me and to have Bishops in the House of Lords is a preposterous anachronism. To proselytise you have also to deny – the “one true faith” syndrome. In a modern multicultural country to have institutionalised in the constitution that one religion is the norm and the others are (consequently) heathen is a preposterous anachronism. If King Charles does declare himself “Defender of Faiths” (plural) that needs formally to be followed throughout society. A move towards the secularisation of education would be a good start.