Thursday, July 16, 2009

The curse of religion

British philosopher A. C. Grayling recently published a fantastic and eloquent column in the Guardian arguing religious bodies should not receive special treatment from the state. An excerpt:
And here is the problem: the religions think they have much greater rights than anyone or anything else – rights to be heard, to be exempt from laws, to be awarded special privileges, to be given our tax money to run their own schools, to have representatives in the House of Lords (26 bishops plus all those retired bishops and archbishops who are now life peers), to be given hours and hours of air time on publicly funded radio every week, to have charitable status, to have their hospital chaplains paid for by the public purse, and so on and endlessly on...

How can this be tolerable? All religious organisations should be relegated to the status of private self-selected and self-constituted NGOs like trade unions and other lobby groups, should survive on what money they can raise from their adherents, should have the same and no more than the same rights and entitlements as any other such organisation and should stop getting privileges, money and an amplification for their views (views, never forget, derived from the beliefs of illiterate goat-herds in ancient times) from government.

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