Pro- and anti-religion rhetoric

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Commenting on Church accusations against Humanists (1), and other recent confrontations over religion and belief, Simon Barrow, co-director of the think-tank Ekklesia, said:

"In a democratic, mixed-belief society and culture, the real issue in the public realm is not being pro-religion or anti-religion in some generic sense. That is a hopeless and often angry cul-de-sac.

"Rather we need to focus on the question of how to handle the different visions and understandings that clearly exist within, as well as between, people aggregated according to particular headline convictions - Christian, Humanist, Muslim, Jewish, 'spiritual but not religious', and so on.

"There is also a popular but misleading idea doing the rounds that the policies and interests of certain religious institutions are co-terminus with, and indistinguishable from, the faiths or beliefs they conserve or promote. That is evidently not so.

"In the Christendom era, institutional church and governing authority were seen as mutually reinforcing, and Christians or others who disagreed were suppressed and denounced.

"That era has thankfully been ending, but its embers are still burning in some modern confrontations, so we need to think in much more creative, boundary-breaking ways about these issues."

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Note: (1) Humanists reject accusations that their election briefings 'target' Christians (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/11564)

Also on Ekklesia: Rethinking religion in and open society (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/6557) and Christianity versus 'the church of power', by Simon Barrow (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/10040)