Welcome to the New Babel

Our Spiritual Advisers

In the delightful story of the Tower of Babel in the Book of Genesis, it is God who confuses the speech and language of the nations. These days we are more than capable of doing this all by ourselves. The most efficient way to do it is to start by destroying our traditional religion, a project in which we are assured of the enthusiastic support of the government.

There is a new Commission on Religious Education chaired by the Very Rev’d Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster. The Commission recommends that the current style of teaching RE in schools is a failure and should be replaced by something called Religion and World Views – the syllabus to include all the world faiths but also “humanism, secularism, atheism and agnosticism.” This, enthuses Dr Hall, is to reflect “Our wonderfully diverse society in which day by day children can encounter different cultures and world views.”

And end up totally bewildered. For the fact is that I can begin to understand the beliefs of others only when I have some specific and firm beliefs of my own.

Let me start by agreeing with the Commission that the way we teach RE today should be scrapped. Our present practice is a vicious shambles. Under the rules now in place, a teacher may teach about Christianity but he is not allowed to teach Christianity as something that is true. This implies that there is some neutral position from which Christianity – and indeed all the other world religions – can be judged. As if the teacher were able to withdraw to some lofty perspective and evaluate all the great faiths.

There is such a position, of course, and it is unbelief. So the rules on religious education are already a licence for state atheism. The government has, very late in the day, woken up to the fact that multiculturalism is undesirable, leading as it does to the separation among the faith communities and the creation of ghettoes, breeding grounds for terrorism. How things move on: the truth spoken by Enoch Powell in 1968 and which lost him his job is now declared openly by the Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality.

But Dr Hall’s Commission’s proposals will only make matters much worse.

If we are sincere in our desire to promote integration by expressing British cultural values, then we should restore the teaching of Christianity in all state schools. This would simply be to return to the provisions of the 1944 Education Act which prescribed Christian teaching with the right of dissenters to withdraw their children from RE classes. The 1944 Act provided for non-denominational Christian teaching: thus basic Christianity was taught – the Old and New Testaments and Christian ethics. But state schools were not permitted to teach, say Anglicanism, Methodism or Roman Catholicism.

Current RE lessons are a travesty, a politically-loaded parody of religion: the slave trade, the Holocaust, AIDS, third worldism and Green dogmatising – throw in a few cult figures of the Left such as Mary Seacoal and Martin Luther King Jr and you’ve got complete political hegemony.

Besides, the new proposals won’t work out in practice. The standards which govern the current theological-philosophical training of RE teachers are abysmal. Under the new syllabus, teachers will merely exhibit the same level of ignorance about humanism, secularism, atheism and agnosticism as they currently display in their meagre understanding of Christianity, Judaism, Islam and the other world faiths. Dr Hall and his Commissioners fail to understand that in order to teach atheism you need a thorough understanding of theism. In order to understand agnosticism – a position in which one can’t make up one’s mind – you need some experience of what it is to have your mind made up and firmly settled.

Who will teach all the new goodies to the teachers, given the intellectual abyss which presently constitutes university education?

Even more seriously there is a moral deficit. Traditionally RE teachers in junior and secondary schools were not required to be fully subscribed Bible-bashers, but it was taken for granted that they believed the basics of the Christian faith they were teaching. Nowadays there is the pretence of some abstracted, neutral position from which one can teach religion. This is as absurd as the notion that doctors and nurses can go about their surgeries and hospitals while not believing there is such a thing as health.

29 Comments on Welcome to the New Babel

  1. But where does it leave secularism, to which I subscribe as a lapsed catholic? Is it necessary to pump religious belief of any sort into the minds of the young? A general view of the world faiths seems to me to be sensible.

    • Jesus said: ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me.’

      I don’t think he meant a ‘general view of the world’s faiths’.

    • That’s a logical way of looking at things, William, in the politically secular world we live in. How can we favour Christianity over Voodoo in state schools; and it is of “state schools” that Rev’d Mullen speaks here. This is all the more reason not to send children to state schools, if one wants them to understand and believe dogmatic truths, be they Christian or Voodoo. You, I assume, believe both are equally credible, or equally nonsensical.

      Like you, Peter Mullen is also sensible when he says:

      “For the fact is that I can begin to understand the beliefs of others only when I have some specific and firm beliefs of my own.”

      …but the fact also is that secularism is a *whatever* way of looking at moral values. It will NOT brook firm, moral beliefs having sway in any part of the *Public Square*, which Square is becoming increasingly pervasive and invasive with each passing day. Our democracies, so-called, are stuck with this state of affairs until the Second Coming I fear.

  2. As an atheist, I have much more respect to traditional catholic clergymen than to “modern” ones, who are usually just atheist social activists in clerical drag. I think the former are *wrong* in what they believe – but the latter *lie* about it. They claim to be Christians, only “liberal” ones.

    But in so-called “liberal” Christianity, men without sin feel vaguely positive about a Christ without divinity so as to inclusively and multiculturaly follow a God which makes no demands and makes no judgments. If this is having religion, it is not worth having. It certainly isn’t Christianity.

  3. RE should not be taught in state-funded schools at all. Religion is a personal matter; no particular viewpoint should be funded by the state.
    Morals and ethics can be taught without reference to religious authority.

    Atheists and agnostics can and do lead moral lives without guidance from “above”, although in practice there is a good deal of overlap (e.g. thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods etc.”).

    And the Rev. Mullen completely misuderstands agnosticism:
    “agnosticism – a position in which one can’t make up one’s mind”.

    This distortion of what agnosticism is a surprisingly common view. Richard Dawkins described agnostics erroneously as fence-sitters in his otherwise excellent book The God Delusion.

    Agnostics actually have a very decided view: namely, that it is a futile waste of time and energy to have an opinion about things (e.g. the existence of God, or the afterlife etc.) which cannot be proven or demonstrated scientifically or logically. Apart from scientific truth, built painstakingly through experiment and replication and the refinement of hypotheses etc., everything else about the Universe is speculation and conjecture.

    • Says Sheilagh:
      “Atheists and agnostics can and do lead moral lives without guidance from ‘above…”

      Your typical atheist, agnostic and/or secularist believes in. or accepts the claims to moral validity made by supporters of abortion, homosexulaism, euthanasia, in vitro fertilization (nb: one man, twenty children), divorce, same-sex marriage, adoptions by homosexuals, early exposure of children to sexual experimentation, transgenderism, feminism, multiculturalism, diversity, illegal immigration, female genital mutilation, affirmative action, tolerance of Sharia Law (c.f. Feminism), pornographic freedom of expression, drug decriminalization… what have I missed?

      Not every atheist, agnostic and/or secularist advocates for each and every one of the above; but in terms of broad brush strokes, I am clearly correct.

      • What a gross calumny (and what a strange, unhinged rant!). Some may, but most do not consider many of the items in your jumbled list as acceptable. What makes you think that those who renounce pre-scientific mumbo-jumbo approve of e.g. illegal immigration or FGM or the rape of even doli capax minors? You clearly do not understand what ethical and moral rectitude is. Here’s a clue: it is not the same as doing whatever your dark fantasies compel you to do.

        • I am afraid I agree with Shelagh, Brother John. The atheists by no means subscribe to all those positions. Some, like euthanasia and divorce – but your list is, frankly, ridiculous.

          • I do not understand your point. John states quite plainly that while not every individual atheist supports every item in his list of horrors, there is collective support for them in atheism. The Roman Catholic Church, on the other hand, opposes them all.

  4. To the extent England is a Christian country, some element of Christianity has to be inculcated amongst all residents. Christianity should set the moral and ethical standard which people may choose to build upon or reject later on.

  5. Some interesting and very revealing comments on this thread. As an atheist/agnostic I find the conceit of the religious, in claiming that morality is a product of religion, absurd and very annoying. In fact the religious are more likely to be amoral, as they have abandoned rational thought for blind faith.
    The basis of morality is the need to cooperate in order to survive, and that predates all religion. In fact all religions are political organizations, created by men, in order to achieve power and accumulate wealth.
    Robert Sharpe claims, presumably with a straight face, that the catholic church opposes homosexuality. This despite the news that the catholic church, worldwide, is a den of homosexual pedophiles.
    The reality is that before this abominable deviance came to the fore, the catholic church, and in particular the Vatican, was a seething pit of degeneracy and has been for centuries. Not that the catholics are alone in this; at the beginning of thee 20th century, when mass inoculation was being introduced into England, the church of England bishops opposed the practice on the basis that if children were to die, that would be god’s will, and to thwart that will was sinful. This is an example of the utter stupidity and obtuseness of the religious mind and a wonderful example of christian “morality”.
    Another is the mass trafficking of vulnerable working class children (hundreds of thousands) into conditions of slavery and abuse in the colonies, a practice that only ended in 1978!

    • Well said, rogerinflorida. Despite johnhenry’s implicit claim that organized religion does a better job than atheism etc. of providing a moral framework, the atrocious abuse in e.g. Tuam, Pennsylvania, Ampleforth, New Spain etc. (the full list is a long one) and the related cover-ups expose the utter hypocrisy of its practitioners and leaders, and its ineffectiveness in protecting the children in its care.

  6. Triplicated comments. Sorry.
    As R.L. Stevenson apologised to the landlord’s daughter:
    “The king o’ drinks, as I conceive it,
    Talisker, Isla, or Glenlivet!”

  7. As johnhenry cradles his aching head this morning, he may wish to ponder these facts:
    Hitler was a catholic (that was why the Vatican liked him), and:
    Chile is an overwhelmingly catholic country.

  8. rogerindisneyworld says: “Hitler was a catholic”[sic].

    Historical illiterates often say that. Hitler was baptised Catholic[sic] but to say he remained an adherent of Catholicism is risible. Were you baptised Mr Disney? I’d wager you were, even though you now deny the salvific graces bestowed by whichever Christian denom your blessed parents followed. What about our dear Sheilagh? Going by her rather odd Hibernian Christian name, I’d even wager she was baptised into Holy Mother Church, just like Hitler was, forsooth!

      • ‘The catholic church, worldwide, is a den of homosexual pedophiles’
        ‘Hitler was a Catholic’

        These pathetic, clever-dick jibes are too ignorant to merit a serious reply.

          • I would like to get a “serious” reply from you. In it perhaps you can refute the fact that the catholic church is a den of homosexual pedophiles.
            Perhaps also you, or the other catholic, johnhenry, can explain why the Vatican assisted thousands of SS men and other NAZI war criminals to escape from Europe at the end of WW2. It would not have been because the catholic church agreed with and supported the German genocide of the Jews, would it?
            After all, the Jews were guilty of murdering the son of god, right?

  9. Appreciate the links johnhenry – so, secretly watching videos of hot Chinese women soldiers on 81 are we? You DOM! At least atheists don’t have a guilty conscience about admiring those gorgeous women (no, I don’t indulge in “lesbianism” but even I think they’re incredibly pretty) and don’t need to go and tell the priest they’ve been whacking off.

    The trouble with the opium of the masses (my bad, religion) is that it suppresses natural instincts, and produces immense suffering because of quite unnecessary feelings of guilt (except apparently among the priesthood).

  10. Perhaps the Very Rev’d Dr John Hall should first ask himself if God is actually interested in religions.

    Jesus is recorded as saying that the Gentiles think that they will be heard for the many words they make in prayers. You’d think that the Very Rev’d Hall and the other clergy would see an application in that (and notice how wordy the intercessions are in any C of E church on a Sunday).

    Apart from that, Christianity and Something Else becomes just the Something Else in the end. And that end is the Very Rev’d Hall’s ‘world views’. And where on earth is a ‘world view’?

  11. It is clear the tussle here is not so much between Anglicanism and Atheism as much as it is about giving a platform to other faiths reflective of ‘diversity’. England has a history with Catholicism and as a Christian country, that needs to be understood. An ‘understanding’ of world religions is a grounding in none. To the extent Anglican religion cultivates a sense of morality and discipline, it needs to be a part of the curriculum. ‘Understanding’ must be reserved for foreign religions having little to do with England such as Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism and Judaism. Oh boy the conundrum! It is only the West which has such a dilemma on this issue. As for atheists, there must be a way to inculcate among children good moral values regarding family life and personal behavior outside of religious studies if they do choose. A complete abandonment of morality is not healthy in my view.

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