These days, it can so easily feel as if religion is an anti-democratic force in our polity, writes Giles Fraser. No one votes for Bishops in the House of Lords, for example. So it's worth remembering that in this country, as indeed in many others too, religion was the nursemaid of democracy.
Pro-democracy activists are continuing to protest on the streets of Asia as the United Nations' envoy arrives today in Burma for talks with government leaders - amid receding hopes of divisions emerging among the ruling junta.
As yet unconfirmed reports from military sources in Burma say that there is significant unrest in the army, with reports of mutinying in some areas and claims that a coup is taking place. Meanwhile the death toll of protesters has been growing significantly.
Burma's military junta appears to have cut public internet access to prevent the broadcast of videos, photographs and information about the violent attacks on protesters against the junta's rule - report global news agencies.
At least nine people were killed in Rangoon yesterday in continuing clashes between the military and demonstrators. They included eight protesters and a Japanese photo-journalist. Monks have been beaten and arrested in the crackdown. But the protests continue.
Buddhist monks are leading nonviolent protests across Burma as opposition to dictatorship and calls for the restoration of democracy increase. They want the Burmese people to pray in their doorways for 15 minutes at 20.00 on Sunday (23 September 2007), Monday and Tuesday.