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.
The House of Lords will this morning discuss the position and rights of the non-religious in Britain today, against the backdrop of declining religious attendance but increased government investment in faith initiatives.
Several hundred Christians gathered outside Parliament carrying banners with slogans like: "Gay Aim = Abolish the Family" - despite warnings from other evangelicals that they were reinforcing the idea that all Christians are homophobic. Other campaigners have been accused of scare tactics.