Atheist mayor respects faiths but does not want to be a hypocrite

John TannerThe Lord Mayor of Oxford John Tanner (pictured) is reportedly planning to limit his appearances at religious functions this year – because he is an atheist.Although it is being reported as a snub he does claim that as a councillor he has attended “Muslim, Christian and other events when invited” and that he does “respect other people’s faiths.”

However he “will not be saying yes to every religious service”, thinking it to “a bit hypocritical spending a lot of time in religious services.”

Perhaps this jars because it is at odds with the commonplace interest in religion by local and national politicans, and so by being open about the proper limits to secular position like a mayor is seen as an insult:

Dr Taj Hargey, chairman of the Muslim Education Centre of Oxford, said: “If he is Lord Mayor he has a duty for the whole community. He needs to go to community functions because that is his job.”

Father Robert Byrne, of St Aloysiyus Gonzaga Catholic Parish Church said: “We respect his conscience, but at the same time it is unfortunate if he feels he cannot share our faith experience.”

Interestingly Stuart Tett of the Oxford Tibetan Buddhist centre, added: “Buddhists do not believe in God, so hopefully that will mean that the Lord Mayor will be attending our events.”


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