A Response to the National Secular Societies Attack on the Free Church

The National Secular Society (NSS), that bastion of freethinking, fair-mindedness and tolerance, has taken the Free Church to task for our submission to the Smith Commission.

In an article on their website, the NSS communications officer, Ben Jones, manages to convey the impression that we are arguing for a theocratic State where churches receive particular privilege.

He implies we should not be arguing from numbers (the fact that the majority of Scots still profess some form of Christian identity) and then contradicts himself by arguing from numbers – “those professing “no religion” are actually the single largest census block of the Scottish population.”

More seriously he does not understand our position on pluralism. He quotes out of context the fact that we are not “arguing for a pluralistic society” but fails to point out that what we mean by that is that we are not arguing for the kind of pluralistic valueless society where anything goes.

We explicitly argue for the kind of pluralism which allows religious freedom for all (atheists included), however we maintain that any society will have values, and we are simply requesting that these values be based on the traditional Christianity on which Scotland was founded.

Without a shadow of irony the NSS tell us that they are arguing “for a separation of religion from the state specifically so that no minority or majority group, of any size or strength, can impose its philosophical, spiritual or religious beliefs on others.” The chutzpah of that is breath taking.

The NSS exists in order to impose its philosophical, spiritual and religious beliefs’ on us all. In fact they regard their beliefs (faith) as so self-evident that it should be illegal to have any other faith or value system practiced in public life.

If the NSS were simply arguing for a separation of Church and State then many Christians would have little difficulty with that. But that is not what they are arguing.

They are arguing that there should be no Christian influence in education, health care, politics or any form of public life. Christians, or for that matter any other group, are not allowed to challenge the values and beliefs of the secularists. This is not freedom but tyranny.

THe original NSS article can be read here – http://www.secularism.org.uk/blog/2014/10/free-church-of-scotland-attacks-secularism-and-sexual-equality-calls-for-biblical-principles-in-scottish-government

Do the secularists have values? Indeed they do. They believe for example that same sex marriage is right (but I assume they are still opposed to sibling marriage?).

They will argue for equality in education but insist that taxpayers money is only spent on schools which teach their values. The irony is that they think they are being tolerant when in reality they are expressing a form of extreme intolerance.

We do not object to secularists setting up schools and giving parents the right to choose to send their children to schools where their values are taught and are the main ethos.

But they object to Christians and others setting up schools where our values are taught and are the main ethos. They insist they have the right to indoctrinate our children into their faith. And then they have the nerve to accuse us of being intolerant for objecting to that!

Again here is another classic self-contradictory quote from Mr Jones: “Secularism, as the NSS sees it, is the neutral arbiter of state power, so that no religion or ethical doctrine is mandated or favoured by government.”

Is Mr Jones really saying that not stealing, not raping and not being racist is not, and should not be ‘mandated or favoured’ by government? Of course not. So his point is completely invalidated. The question is not whether any ethics are mandated or favoured by government, but which ones.

We prefer to go with the tried and tested values of Christianity (as Scotland has done for hundreds of years), rather than leave the people of Scotland to the tender mercies of the secularist elites who just know what is best for everyone!

The secular charter states, “public and publicly-funded service provision does not discriminate on grounds of religion, belief or non-belief.” That would be amusing if it were not so sad.

So let’s say that my religious belief means that I don’t want couples staying in my B&B who are not biblically married – will I be discriminated against?

What if I want to set up a school that teaches that God is the Creator and that his teaching about human sexuality is right – will I be discriminated against?

In the Brave New World of the NSS – of course. I will be discriminated against in the name of non-discrimination.

The sad thing is that the NSS ignored the major parts of our submission and instead concentrated on their own particular bête-noir, religion. You can read the report in full here – http://freechurch.org/news/new-political-settlement-must-recognise-the-strength-of-christianity

Let me issue a simple challenge to the NSS. If you really believe in tolerance, freedom, choice and pluralism; then stop arguing for an authoritarian secular State (the State as God), and instead return to the kind of society where a genuine pluralism allows freedom of religion, practice and expression.

We don’t object to you arguing for your values. We do object to you regarding them as so self-evident that any disagreement with them cannot be tolerated. Such intolerance is the very essence of the worst kind of fundamentalism.

We argue, and can demonstrate from history, that the most tolerant and free states have been those with Christian ethos and values. Please feel free to tell us your alternative. We are listening.

But we don’t want fantasyland – we want reality and reason. We want clear evidence that your position is one that has worked and will work.

Meanwhile we just simply ask that the tiny minority of the NSS and the other even smaller secular groups should not be allowed to have their elitist philosophy imposed upon those of us (majority or not), who do not want it.

The original article is here –

http://freechurch.org/news/a-response-to-the-national-secular-society

8 thoughts on “A Response to the National Secular Societies Attack on the Free Church

  1. The phrase “there is nothing new under the sun” comes to my mind.

    If we consider the times of the middle ages with church dogma and wars being fought with a reason being given of religious differences followed by the period of human history in the west known as the “enlightenment” with optimism about human reasoning and endeavour, followed by two world wars, we can see that little has changed to the human condition.

    In the link, “Ben Jones argues that secularism is in fact entirely impartial, and defends the rights of the religious and non-religious alike.” The Scottish Secular Society is in favour of the removal of all religious components to religious observation and schools and of the abolition of denominational schools. What defending of the rights of the religious and non-religious is there in that?

    On the other side of the coin I don’t see Jesus in any of the gospels imposing his will on humanity, but waiting at the door for it to be opened to him. I happen to be in agreement with Christian values being best for all and as long as I have the freedom to do so, would express that. However I want to respect other’s freedom to choose whether to welcome that or not and experience the consequences of either.

    In a democracy whatever beliefs or non-belief is held I can do whatever is possible to live in peace. Others are free to do what they choose.

  2. When you say “attack”, do you mean like ISIS, or other ACTUAL attacks, or do you mean “a legal & peaceful criticism of religious practices”? I know you get very passionate about religious and nationalistic topics – as your brain type is prone to do – but are you really serving your readers well when everything, even a slightly negative mention of your religion, is described in the same terms as bombings, killings and other true horrors?
    It simply smacks of yellow journalism… but, I suppose we should expect this from a group that takes ancient propaganda (the gospels) as a base line… Walking on water, Sun stopping in the sky, the dead rising from their graves.. that’s thought of as normal. So, I suppose histrionics by those who take it seriously are to be expected… :-/

    1. Brent – I love pedantics! Especially from those who have difficulty with the English language and operate in the post-modern Alice-in-Wonderland ‘words mean whatever I want them to mean’….world!

  3. Hi David,
    Hi David,
    I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite so wrong as this piece. It’s a masterpiece of religious doublethink, where discrimination is portrayed as tolerance and special favour is portrayed as a level playing field. It’s a breathtaking example of how faith based thinking is so warped that it can make you think that black is white, or up is down. I’m genuinely staggered.

    You say; “In an article on their website, the NSS communications officer, Ben Jones, manages to convey the impression that we are arguing for a theocratic State where churches receive particular privilege.”

    But you ARE arguing for privilege; here is the direct quote from the Free Church submission ; “People are not simply economic and social units but beings with a spiritual appetite and as such we believe that governments should maximise the freedom which Christians have to offer the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to the people of Scotland”

    Did you read that? The government must maximise Christian freedoms to preach their dogma!! Not that Christians should have the same freedom as any other religion to preach, oh no, the Free Church wants their preaching to be maximised. And this is portrayed as a “level playing field”?????
    Doublethink!!

    You go on: “Without a shadow of irony the NSS tell us that they are arguing “for a separation of religion from the state specifically so that no minority or majority group, of any size or strength, can impose its philosophical, spiritual or religious beliefs on others.” The chutzpah of that is breath taking.”
    Yes, the NSS actually tell you what they are arguing for. Imagine that! The NSS actually say what they mean, in plain English. Unfortunately for you, this rules out any privilege for the church, so you have to instead distort the NSS position.

    You say “The NSS exists in order to impose its philosophical, spiritual and religious beliefs’ on us all.”
    – This is a lie!
    and “In fact they regard their beliefs (faith) as so self-evident that it should be illegal to have any other faith”
    – This is a bare faced whopper!!
    and “If the NSS were simply arguing for a separation of Church and State then many Christians would have little difficulty with that. But that is not what they are arguing.”
    – No, this is EXACTLY what they are arguing.

    Your problem is that you can’t actually argue against what the NSS actually says or actually stands for, so you just brazenly claim they say the opposite of what they actually say. This is unbelievable.

    Doublethink!

    But lets get to the heart of the matter. The church’s hatred and bigotry towards homosexuals.

    You say; ”The secular charter states, “public and publicly-funded service provision does not discriminate on grounds of religion, belief or non-belief.” That would be amusing if it were not so sad.
    So let’s say that my religious belief means that I don’t want couples staying in my B&B who are not biblically married – will I be discriminated against? ”

    Again the NSS plainly state their charter. How can you reasonably object? You can’t, so you just change the meaning of the word discrimination.

    This is what discrimination means : the practice of unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people.

    In your example of yourself as a B&B owner, you would be treated EXACTLY the same as any other B&B owner, regardless of beliefs or religion. This is NOT DISCRIMINATION.
    However, if you bar certain couples, but not others, purely on the grounds of gender, this IS DISCRIMINATION.

    In a secular society, Christians will be treated EXACTLY THE SAME as everybody else. Pause and let that sink in for a moment. In a secular society, Christians will be treated EXACTLY THE SAME as everybody else.

    This is not discrimination. That’s a plain statement of fact. You don’t like it, so you just change the meaning of the word.

    Doublethink!!

    I could go on, but for now I’m utterly depressed at how warped and twisted your thinking is. I just thank goodness I live in a Scotland where religion has little political power any longer, and thank goodness it’s influence is dwindling all the time.

    Regards,
    Linear C

    1. Linear,

      Thanks for your post…and thanks for proving my point. You have such faith that your position is the only possible one that you automatically regard any other position as rubbish and twisted and warped thinking. When you guys are in power it won’t be too long before people like me are sent to ‘re-education camps’ to ensure that we become enlightened. Lets take one example – you tell me that in a secular society Christians are treated exactly the same as everyone else. That is true in one aspect – everyone has to accept and go along with the fundamentalist secularist values or else. But in another it is not. We are not allowed to have and practice our own beliefs. In the example you give I happen to believe that people should not be sleeping together unless they are married and that marriage is between a man and a woman. If a couple come to stay at my house and he tells me that she is married to someone else but they are just having a weekend away for fun – I will refuse them a room. But you are saying I do not have that right. You are turning the State into God. Let us say that in the future the State says that polygamy is fine and a man turns up with three women and wants to share a bed in my B and B – are you saying that I have to do that? And what if, in the future, the State decides that actually incest is not illegal, do I have to accept a father and daughter sleeping in the same bed? Your post is a clear illustration of the dangers of the kind of fundamentalist narrow minded thinking that actually believes it is tolerant!

      1. Hi David,
        On the contrary, your reply proves my point. Instead of actually replying to my post, you attribute a vision of secularism to me which I do not hold. You invent instead a totalitarian view which is the exact opposite of what secularists argue for, and one which no secularist would recognise. But this is typical; you are unable to argue against secularism, so you simply redefine what it means. Just like how you redefine ‘tolerance’ to mean being allowed to discriminate against gays, and how a ‘level playing field’ means one where Christian views are privileged.
        It’s more than telling that you wilfully misrepresent secularism; it’s a clear sign that you have lost the argument.

        Regards,
        Linear C

        PS Stephen Law has an excellent article on the same theme which I would recommend to anyone interested in the truth of what secularism means. http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/open_letter_to_karen_armstrong_on_the_myth_of_religious_violence/
        I would challenge you to honestly argue against the REAL meaning of secularism. It can’t be done.

        An excerpt;

        “The case for Secularism is strong. Secularism can be justified on principles of fairness (why should one belief system – atheism, say, or Roman Catholicism – get privileged treatment from the state?). Secularism can also be justified on pragmatic grounds: modern Secular states have proved successful at drawing a line under the old struggles between religious factions attempting to wrestle control of states from each other.
        Still, plenty of religious conservatives and fundamentalists oppose Secularism. Why? Because they do, in fact, want their religion privileged. They want their faith schools state-funded. They want their church leaders undemocratically placed into positions of political power. And they want the legal system to exempt them, on religious grounds, from the equal rights legislation that applies to everyone else.
        Given the case for Secularism is strong, how do its critics respond? Typically, by caricaturing and misrepresenting it. They pretend that the Secularist’s refusal to grant the religious privileges is a form of oppression – an assault on their religious rights and freedoms. They portray Secularists as bullies who want to ‘gag’ the religious, forcing them to keep their religious opinions to themselves.
        But of course Secularists want no such thing. Quite the opposite: they want to protect the religious – granting them the exact same rights and freedoms as everyone else but no more than that. That’s not ‘oppression’. “

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