The recent tumoil in Myanmar caused by hardcore religionists witnessed across the world has been revealed to have originated from forces outside the country.
Thousands of fundamentalist Buddhists have taken to the street, flouting the law, in attempt to disrupt the lives of ordinary Myanmar citizens, offering another example of the unwavering distructive powers of religion.
An offical Myanmar spokesperson explained that “a group of people – with ill-intentions – inside and outside the country, who are committing destructive acts, have continuously been instigating the people politically in recent days”.
“This is happening because a group of internal and external destructive elements – who are envious of Myanmar that is peaceful, tranquil, and developing – are planning and creating the above-mentioned situation to destroy every government effort by various means”. Continue reading
It’s that time again for another Madeline Bunting attack on humanists in the Guardian. Apparantly Gordon Brown is using religious shorthand to show moral purpose: “his government was going to be about two things – competence and serious moral purpose. It’s the latter which this son of the manse repeatedly emphasises as he refers back to the devout family background which provided his “moral compass”. He is the third consecutive Labour leader to put religion at the heart of his politics, and it’s not just a matter of leaders.
It’s a curious phenomenon that at a time when Christianity continues its steady decline in this country, religion has re-emerged as a central inspiration of political rhetoric – not as the flash-in-the-pan aberration of one individual but now well established as a convention of the centre ground, acknowledged by the Cameroons as much as by Labour. This strange afterlife of religious belief must be pretty galling to secularists and humanists.
…It is as if with the collapse of what John Gray in his new book calls the “political religions” – most significantly, communism – there is no effective alternative ethical language other than that of the Bible. The 20th-century traditions of humanism, secularism and even atheism have signally failed to develop a popular language of morality in which to describe moral character and the disciplines of responsibility, self-restraint and duty which are essential to democracy and social wellbeing. If you want to convince a sceptical, inattentive electorate of your moral purpose, you have to use the shorthand of faith.”
Hmm.. talking about a ‘moral compass’ and ‘soul’ is hardly putting religion at the centre of politics now is it (more like a desperate attempt at rebranding)?
So what if we still employ language with religious roots? Meanings change and it’s be pretty odd if we threw away our cultural roots suddenly. So for example, when when we talk about charity today most of mean something slightly different than the original biblical concept. Ideas like ‘spirituality’ still are useful to a humanist like myself. None of these indicates a failure of humanism any more than co-opting pagan festivals indicated a failure of Christianity.
What’s important is that non-religious basis of ethics, whether it’s rights, utilitarianism or the Kantian moral imperative (which have been developed by the religious as much as the non-religious) have replaced literal obedience to holy books.
And so what if Gordon Brown is personally religious? As long as people don’t assume that one or any religion is the only way to live a good life.
The BBC reports that “the Vatican has urged all Catholics to stop donating money to Amnesty International, accusing the human rights group of promoting abortion. The Vatican, which regards life as sacred from the moment of conception, said it was an “inevitable consequence” of the group’s policy change.
Amnesty said it was not promoting abortion as a universal right.
But the group said that women had a right to choose, particularly in cases of rape or incest.
“No more financing of Amnesty International after the organisation’s pro-abortion about-turn,” said a statement from the Roman Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
The Church’s request covers funding from Catholic groups, non-governmental organisations, parishes, schools and individuals. “