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Mar 28 2010

Bashing the bishops

I’m sorry, I try really hard to be a quiet little atheist and not cause needless offence, but sometimes the perfect storm hits and I go a bit “Richard Dawkins”.

The spark that lit my ire today was on Radio 4’s Sunday program. It was the juxtaposition of the reports on further problems the Catholic church was having with covering up child abuse by the priesthood with a complaint that Catholic adoption agencies, unlike any other adoption agency, should be allowed to discriminate against gay couples because they didn’t think any gay couple was suitable to look after children.

Can you hear the sound of me bursting a blood vessel here?

This isn’t an isolated incident either, also in the news today: a  letter by six bishops to the Daily Telegraph complaining of the treatment of a nurse who was asked to remove her crucifix necklace, or wear it  inside her clothing. The hospital involved has a policy on uniform which excludes the wearing of necklaces, this seems quite reasonable in my view. I don’t want anyone’s necklace dangling in my wounds, regardless of the form it takes. Now it may be that necklace wound dangling isn’t a problem, and the whole policy is pointless. But that isn’t the argument that the bishops are making, they’re happy with the idea that any random atheist should be prevented from wearing, for example, their bourbon chocolate biscuit necklace but the same rule applied to a Christian is a great offence. It’s a dogmatic position too, wearing the necklace inside her clothing (an entirely acceptable solution I would have thought) is not acceptable to the bishops either.

These aren’t isolated incidents, there are exceptions in law covering the slaughter of animals for both halal and kosher slaughter. So whilst it’s a illegal to slaughter an animal without first rendering it unconscious if you’re a Christian or an atheist, as a Jew or a Muslim it becomes legal. What part does the slaughterer’s religion play in the cruelty or otherwise to the animal? Also in the news recently were the ceremonial daggers worn by Hindu’s. In this instance a child was withdrawn from school for continuing to wear his ceremonial dagger, personally I think banning children from taking knives of any sort into schools is a fairly good idea and once again notice the dogmatism – a compromise solution of a knife welded into it’s scabbard was not acceptable.

We have a wide range of laws which restrict our behaviour for one reason or another, some of those laws are good and, no doubt, some of them are bad. My argument is that no behaviour is unacceptable for one person but acceptable for another simply on the grounds of their religion.

Thank you for hearing my rant!

3 comments

1 ping

  1. Phil

    I did hear the crucifix issue was based on the feeling that Christianity specifically was being forced to comply with the rule as opposed to other religions. That's a fair complaint but personally I'd prefer no religious opt-outs from health and safety :) At times I prefer the French approach to such issues.

  2. NewShoot

    Hear! Hear! Rant on…

  3. SomeBeans

    @Phil – you always get the feeling with the French that they're going out of their way to wind up the religionists.

    @NewShoot – I find the odd rant cathartic, Richard Dawkins is still the master of the genre.

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