Cameron the theocrat
Let’s take a look at the last few days in Atrocities Against Random People Going About Their Lives.
Sunday it’s Lahore, Pakistan, where a bomb went off at a crowded park, killing at least 60 people and injuring many more.
There is speculation that Christian families out for the Easter weekend may have been the target, says the BBC’s Shaimaa Khalil, in Lahore…Most of the dead and injured are women and children, a senior local police officer told Reuters news agency.
A few days ago it was Sabongari Madagali in Adamawa State in northern Nigeria, where sixteen women were abducted by Boko Haram.
On Tuesday it was Brussels, where at least 28 people were killed and 340 were injured by bombs at the airport and a metro station.
On March 13 it was Ankara, where bombs killed 37 people and injured 125.
The suicide attack is the third in Ankara in the last six months. The previous attacks on Feb. 17 and Oct. 10 last year killed 29 and 102 people respectively.
That’s just a selection of the bigger Atrocities Against Random People Going About Their Lives; we can be confident there were many smaller ones.
An offshoot of the PKK, the TAK, has claimed responsibility for the Ankara bombing, but the other atrocities in this list are almost certainly theocratic rather than nationalist. We have become all too familiar with this god who hates human beings and smiles to see us blown up by bombs as we enjoy ourselves in parks.
So what does David Cameron say everyone should do more of? More crawling to a god, that’s what. Just make it the Christian god and everything will be brilliant.
David Cameron has declared that Britain is built on ‘Christian values’ – and must defend them against terrorism.
In his message to mark the Christian festival of Easter, the Prime Minister said the religion had ‘helped to make our country what it is today’ and that its values appealed to people ‘of every faith and none’.
‘Values of responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion and pride in working for the common good and honouring the social obligations we have to one another, to our families and our communities, he said.
These are values we treasure. They are Christian values and they should give us the confidence to say yes, we are a Christian country and we are proud of it.
Those aren’t Christian values, in fact, they’re Tory values. Responsibility and hard work are what employers want from their workers, and there’s nothing distinctively Christian about them.
But more to the point, it’s baffling that Cameron thinks more religious nationalism is a good idea in a world full of atrocities motivated by religious nationalism. The idea of the Ummah is a form of nationalism, although it’s one at war with existing nationalisms based on existing nations.
IS is certainly nationalistic about its Islamic State, which it hopes will absorb all other states into parts of itself. The “confidence” to say “My country and my country’s religion are the best” is not what we’re lacking right now; people have all too much of that sort of confidence, and the contempt for everyone else’s that goes with it.
The trouble with religious morality is that it’s deflected from concentrating on the core issues by its focus on a superior magical being we have to obey. That’s all wrong. It’s a change of subject, and a change for the worse. Putting a powerful boss-entity at the center of your ethical thinking exerts a gravitational pull on all your ideas.
It prompts you to think of everything as hierarchical, and to find a place for yourself in that hierarchy where you will have at least some people below you, so that you can drop things on them. It trains you to value obedience and deference over genuinely good qualities like generosity and kindness. It teaches you that it’s virtuous to fly into violent rages whenever you think your boss-entity has been insulted.
Religious morality also tells you that there’s someone in charge, a giant Daddy, so everything will be all right “ultimately” and therefore we humans don’t need to worry much about this world. If the temperature and sea levels do rise it must be part of giant Daddy’s plan, so we can just kick back and enjoy the sunbathing.
It tells you that the way things are, or seem to be – that men are stronger and thus better than women, that poor people are too lazy to get rich, that brown people are supposed to serve white people – is the way giant Daddy intended them to be and thus reform is blasphemy. It tells you that blasphemy is one of the worst crimes. It gives you a warped picture of all of reality, and how can a decent morality emerge from that?
In a day or two or three there will be another atrocity, there will be more bodies and limbs littering a park or metro station or market, and neither Christian nor Islamic values will prevent that.
Editor’s note: At the same time that I received Ophelia Benson’s column, George Broadhead, Chair of the Coventry & Warwickshire Humanists, copied me in on a letter he sent on behalf of the group to the media. It reads:
Once again David Cameron has claimed (in his Easter message) that Britain is a Christian country.
It is certainly true that Christianity remains the principal (though rapidly shrinking) religion in the country, but his claim flies in the face of all polls and surveys, including the 2015 British Social Attitudes, a charity which shows that around 50% of Britons have no religious beliefs at all. Moreover, In the 18-24 age group this rises to nearly two thirds (64%).
What is worse, though, is his claim that ‘values of responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion and pride in working for the common good and honouring the social obligations we have to one another, to our families and our communities’ are Christian values, as if these are exclusive to that particular religious belief. If this is the case, it is a gross insult not only to those of other faiths but to those with none which include atheists, agnostics and humanists.
I am sure that non-religious people will, like Cameron, deplore the persecution of Christians in other countries for their beliefs, but Cameron might consider the similar persecution of non-believers in Muslim countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, and especially the barbaric Islamic theocracy of Saudi Arabia, where they are outlawed as terrorists and publicly flogged and hanged.