Charles Moore is asking this question in a Telegraph article posted today. I wonder myself. Are we Christian or Atheist? I have to say, I’m an atheist and the rest of this post will be influenced by that point of view, that and rational thought and a belief in evolution.
David Cameron thinks we are a Christian country of course, he only said a few days ago that we were, but I wonder if he says that out of fear of other, just as irrelevant religions, encroaching on the irrelevant Christian ‘belief’ that our nation supposedly is spiritually soaked in.
What I find incredible is that Charles Moore says that we are a Christian nation because things such as our National Health Service and public holidays and festivals, which I find thin arguments at best. But then he is playing to an audience of Telegraph readers so I suppose we can forgive him that. He’s clearly got an agenda and a specific audience very much like Matthew, Mark, Luke and Johns gospels had when they were written. I’m not having a go at Charles Moore he does make many good points in his article, but some of the points that he mentions as making us a more so Christian nation I do disagree with pretty strongly.
Education – by its very nature is about facts. There should not and cannot ever be an agenda about education. In its purest form it is secular, it should educate about religion and explain them in real facts, about what they are what they represent, who believes and why etc. But it shouldn’t have an agenda or a point of view. Education is simply learning things. If you add an agenda, especially a religious one it fails to be education anymore, rather a doctrine that aims to pollute the mind of the receiver.
Flag – The Union Jack is a combination of flags that represent the histories of the union parts of the UK. The histories of these constituent countries have no doubt been effected and shaped by religion over the many hundreds of years but the flag itself is just a reflection of the several flags if the union nations. It has no religious meaning in 2014. Its incidental that Scotland had a flag and England had a flag and Wales too and they combined to created an umbrella flag that we know as the Union Jack. Simple as that.
Health Service – How is this Christian? The health service was not born out of religion; it was born out of a social idea and responsibility to make sure that all of the people were taken care off when ill at the point of need for healthcare. It was established by a Labour government after World War Two. The idea was simple, a healthy nation is a productive one, and so let’s keep people well and encourage them to be healthy and if they aren’t, let’s do something about it. It’s a socialist organisation, not a religious one. It means rich or poor you won’t die unavoidably from treatable illnesses and diseases.
Heritage and historically – He speaks about holidays and festivals being Christian but even our Christian holidays (Christmas and Easter) are celebrated along pagan lines. Easter, which we are just passing through, is a perfect example. What are bunny rabbits and eggs if not symbols of fertility as used during Spring by pagans to signify rebirth and renewal? They have no Christian meaning at all. But they are used every year by pagans, atheists, Christians and agnostics to mark Easter.
Euthanasia – “The growing desire to kill old people (sorry let them die with dignity)” a direct quote from that Telegraph article. Euthanasia as understood by most atheists (or rational people) is not a simply desire to kill old people, that idea is disgusting Charles Moore. Euthanasia is about dignity, it’s about letting people with no hope, who are suffering and dying, the chance to leave this life without suffering. Suffering is a Christian idea. It’s not an acceptable idea in a modern world. We can’t cure everyone, we can’t save everyone, and we can’t stop people getting old, suffering and dying. But we can listen to what they want. If they want to die, and have no hope, only pain and suffering, then euthanasia is a damned acceptable idea and no one, especially Christians have anything worthy to say on the matter. Let the individuals who want it tell us if its right.
Abortion – abortion is a very emotive subject. I am pro-choice. I think that all men should be. We don’t have to carry babies and incubate them, we don’t have to bring them up alone when a man decides to jump ship, we don’t have to worry about dying in childbirth. You have to be pro-choice if you’re a man and that’s it. It’s a female issue and we shouldn’t be allowed an opinion. A woman’s body is her own and she should choose what to do with it and anything she carries in it. So many people care about the pre-born but once they are born they are on there own as so well explained to us here by the great George Carlin.
Divorce – this again is an issue for those involved. Why is it wrong to divorce? It’s a complete nonsense. A total, utter nonsense. I’m with Henry VIII on this issue. If religion won’t let you divorce find a new one that will, just don’t cut anyone’s head off.
Surrogacy – Again a modern problem that ancient religion cannot legislate for so it simply says its wrong. It’s not wrong at all. It allows infertile women and homosexuals to have families and if that angers Christians we know it’s right and OK.
Offending Muslims – Yes even this is mentioned in the Telegraph article. Most Muslims aren’t offended by atheist opinions. I suppose that’s just the article author, Charles Moore, confusing Muslims with islamists. That certainly aint a first these days though is it? But is very offensive to not just Muslims, but open minded, atheists like myself.
Morality – The very idea that mankind can only be moral with religion and its rules is crazy. Atheists, humanists, agnostics can all be moral people just by treating people as they want to be treated. There is not a religious moral exclusivity on not killing, not raping, not stealing, not being adulterous etc etc. The very idea that people without religion or faith in a deity are immoral people is as disgusting an idea as hating homosexuals for being homosexual – as many Christians do. Morality is a human issue, not a Christian one.
So with that in mind, are we more Atheist or more Christian as a nation? I think we are more atheist or at least agnostic or humanist. Many people will put Christian on a census form without really thinking about what it means or even believe themselves to be Christian. In my own circle of family and friends and colleagues and acquaintances I can say that very few of them call themselves Christian, or are openly Christian, it must be less than 1 in 10 people. Maybe they hide it around me as they know I’m a bit of a militant atheist, or maybe people just are less Christian.
I don’t want to be completely negative towards Christianity. I once was one but stopped believing when I reached the age of reason which for me was about 22. I decided to stop being religious, then became unsure, and then became an unbeliever. I can’t ever see me going back. For me God is life. I worship that. Its not about day to day stuff, work, bills, chores but the simple little things in life like a well timed and energy giving nap, or seeing a plant grow, or just watching my nieces and nephews play and question and learn about the world as they idly go about their business as kids in a world that is entirely their oyster. God as a thing I don’t believe in, but getting a spiritual or happy feeling inside seeing a long lost friend or a tear shed watching a movie are things that are real and I do feel and believe in. They are human things and tangible things and they are what count. Love matters, being a good person matters and being contented with your self matters.
I think we are an atheist society largely, regardless of what people or journalists or “experts” say. And that, I’m sure, will lead to a more happy and fulfilled society eventually as we shed the shackles of our past. Historically we are a Christian country but that means nothing. We remember and learn about history; but its value is only to learn from the past to avoid making the same mistakes in the future and the sooner that Britain, and the rest of the world consign organised belief systems and false ideas of religious traditions and righteousness to the bin, the better we’ll all be. Maybe we can all live together after all, without God as spiritual and enlightened human beings.