An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Saturday, October 07, 2006


The last thing that almost got me banned from an online forum was thread that I started calling for an end to religious tolerance. The venom and insults that it unleashed were frankly quite surprising to me. Self declared xtians and muslims heaped disdain upon both my person and my ideas. Not entirely surprising in retrospect- having been an atheist since 10 or 11 years old I am used to being abused and cursed by these "tolerant" people who demand my tolerance and have managed somehow to get such tolerance written into law. They do not have to respect or tolerate my views but I have to tolerate theirs. My views, you see are or are not religious, according to them as suits their needs. Asymmetric argumentation? Nothing new there then.

What seems to be lacking these days is an understanding that respect, and not just lip service to it, is, as our cousins in the US would say, a two-way street. Respect has to be reciprocated for it to be meaningful and so it is no use the Pope apologising to muslims about offense taken if a) the offended contingent do not accept a respectful apology and b) he uses the opportunity to take an intolerant and bigoted swipe at the shared enemy - the atheists - just to cement things. But of course the legislation that "guarantees" religious tolerance and the social compact amongst religions just do not apply to atheists.

Now it seems to me from my limited reading of the holy books of a couple of major religions that one of the reasons for this lack of tolerance in behalf of any religion to any other is that a fundamental part of its defining or "holy" text (no matter which religion you choose) will state categorically and incontrovertibly that it is the one true faith and that all other faiths are in error. Most will also prescribe, and in some cases will actively exhort followers to act out. quite hideous behaviour toward any and all unbelievers (atheists).

From this it follows, as Exodus follows Genesis, that the reciprocal tolerance that we were looking for in our second paragraph will not be forthcoming from religious adherents. It is simply beyond their defining principles. And as this is so self evidently true then I should like to propose a solution to this intractable problem. I would like to propose that we remove religion from public life altogether and move it firmly into the private domain where it rightly belongs (it is after all a mater of personal faith, and or belief). And, safely ensconced in the private domain the adherents of such personal faiths can mix with others of like mind or potential converts. They would then never be called upon to pay lip service to an ideal that their religion forbids them from living up to.

With religion a taboo subject in the public domain there would be no more politicking regarding superstitious beliefs. There would be no place for discussions as to whether religious law should replace the laws passed by elected government. There would be no place for special pleadings in behalf of religious beleivers. The law would once again become beautifully indiscriminating. And like sex, when confined to the private realm, anything should go amongst consenting adults and in any numbers. Atheists would for once no longer be subject to public excoriation and all religious believers would be free to say what they really believe about other religions.

We would need to make some fairly important adjustments to remove religion entirely from the public domain and public life. Taking religion out of education would be a very good place to begin. Abolish all faith based schools. Remove religion from the school curriculum. Abolish morning assembly and prayer. If parents wish to indoctrinate their children in their own chosen belief set then that becomes their private responsibility.

Some of the rather deeper and less obvious impingements of religion into the public domain would also need to be addressed. It occurs to me that we would have to abolish the act of succession, replace oaths with affirmations across the legal and judicial systems, remove all non binary references to religion in official documentation and statistics (are you religious) - with religion in the private domain there would be no useful purpose served by such information as is currently gathered.

In fact it seems that we would need a very careful nit combing of extant statutes and practices to achieve the true separation of faith and state that we purport to hold so dear but surely it is worth the effort?


  1. It's called Disesta

  2. It's called Disestabishmentarianism. Did you think you'd just invented it?

  3. What an arrogantly stupid and downright offensive response to a well-written piece, but no doubt you thought that you were being amazingly clever (even if it did take you two attempts to learn how to spell 'Disestabishmentarianism') - no wonder you chose to hide yourself behind the 'anonymous' tag. However, I have little need to defend Papalazarou or his opinions, since he is quite capable of making mincemeat out of intellectual lightweights such as you!

  4. An excellent post, Papalaz, and an argument which I thoroughly support.

    The fact that some of your proposals were first aired by Edward Miall in the 19th Century is irrelevant (I say 'some of your porposals' since Miall and other 'Liberationists' were concerned only with the established churches of the UK's four constituent countries whereas you are going beyond that - a fact that the anonymous poster above failed to grasp).

  5. you've said it much better than i could have, papz, or in fact, said it much better than i did. though we have come to similar conclusions, on slightly different blogging paths, i must say again that i appreciate your cognative and elaborative talents

    thanks for this well crafted piece


  6. i'm afraid that i don't get the point of why the anonymous poster above included the second phrase on his second post. i did not feel that papz was a patronizing didact, he has offered a well founded, well reasoned thesis.

    if you, anonymous, felt like it was something that offended you, why at least not identify yourself and have a conversation about it...but for the life of me, i can't much see why your purile dismissiveness would engender a desire for it

  7. As my regulars will know well I believe in free speech and one of the key reasons that I do was summed up nicely by one early American named Abraham Lincoln

    "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."