Anorak | Baroness Warsi finds Christianity hiding in a massive Cathedral – it’s her illiberal crusade

Baroness Warsi finds Christianity hiding in a massive Cathedral – it’s her illiberal crusade

by | 16th, February 2012

BARONESS Warsi, the Conservative Party Chariman, made a speech to the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. This is Sayeeda Warsi, who once wanted the hen Labour government to debate issues with extremist Muslims:

“We must engage with, not agreeing with, the radical groups who we have said in the past are complete nutters. We need to bring these groups into the fold of the democratic process. As long as we exclude them and don’t hear them out, we will allow them to continue their hate. It may not achieve results immediately, but it may stop the immediate violence.”

Why not just champion free speech and say what you feel. Why “engage” with “nutters” over tea and smiles?

This is the same Warsi who insulted a huge swath of voters for engaging in what might be termed free speech:

“It seems to me that Islamophobia has now crossed the threshold of middle class respectability. For far too many people, Islamophobia is seen as a legitimate – even commendable – thing. You could even say that Islamophobia has now passed the dinner-table-test. The drip feeding of fear fuels a rising tide of prejudice. So when people get on the tube and see a bearded Muslim, they think ‘terrorist’ …when they hear ‘Halal’ they think ‘that sounds like contaminated food’…and when they walk past a woman wearing a veil, they think automatically ‘that woman’s oppressed’. And what’s particularly worrying is that this can lead down the slippery slope to violence.”

It is very lack of free and frank speech that’s the problem. Warsi is no fan of genuine free speech. She wants control. She wants to suppress the ideas she does not like, not debate then openly. These are her views on the State:

“[The well-intentioned liberal elite] conversely, are trying to create equality by marginalising faith in society and think that the route to religious pluralism is by creating a path of faith-neutrality”. She said they aimed to “downgrade religion to a mere subcategory in public life.

“But look at their supposed level playing field. Its terrain is all but impassable to anyone of belief. One of the arguments of the liberal elite is that faith and reason are incompatible. But they don’t realise, as the Holy Father has argued for many years, that faith and reason go hand in hand.” Just as reason should not be excluded from debates about faith…so too spirituality should not be excluded when we look at worldly matters.”

She then wrote:

“My fear today is that a militant secularisation is taking hold of our societies. We see it in any number of things: when signs of religion cannot be displayed or worn in government buildings; and where religion is sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere. For me, one of the most worrying aspects about this militant secularisation is that at its core and in its instincts it is deeply intolerant. It demonstrates similar traits to totalitarian regimes – denying people the right to a religious identity because they were frightened of the concept of multiple identities.”

Others respond:

Stuart Houghton:

Baroness Warsi is worried about ‘militant secularism’, ex-Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey warns that, “There are deep forces at work in Western society, hollowing out the values of Christianity and driving them to the margins” and Stephen Green off of Christian Voice would be capable of powering a small town, if only scientists would stop eating Christian babies long enough to hook up a solenoid to his swivelling eyes.

It seems as though wherever you look, Christians are being hunted down by teams of net-wielding secularists, some on foot, some on horseback, others still using quad bikes and dune buggies like in Jurassic Park 2. The lucky ones will be deported to the Vatican or Texas, the unlucky will have to fight in gladitorial games for the amusement of the cruel Not-God-King Richard Dawkins and his Athietrix consort Ariane Sherine.

This is all definitely happening, symptoms of what the Rev. Jennie Hogan calls The New Inquisition.

Why am I telling you this? Well, otherwise how would you know that any of it was happening? You don’t read underground Christian publications. You are not privy to the whispered prayer circles that Christians are forced to attend now that they can’t go to church without fear of attack or abduction. Unless I read you wrong you have probably never had to smuggle a samizdat VHS of Songs of Praise past the stormtroopers of Dawkins’ ironic crusade like most Christians definitely have.

I mean, it’s not as if the religious have any input into public life at all, is it? It’s not as if we are the only modern democracy in which high-ranking clergy can become members of the second chamber of government merely by virtue of belief in the same invisible friend as the Monarch or that religious education is baked into the national curriculum like a tooth-cracking sixpence in a pudding.

Christians in today’s Britain are forced to scuttle in the shadows, using the underground press (The Telegraph, The Daily Express, The Daily Mail, The Huffington Post, The BBC) to pass their message of hope and discomfort about The Gays among themselves. Barred from politics, prevented by law from receiving funding for their schools and unable to even believe what they want in the privacy of their own hearts thanks to scientists and their wicked thought-control rays. These are dark times for the faithful.


Not only is it bizarre that the Baroness is of the view that Britain is being taken over by Dr Evan Harris ‘militant secularists’; there is more than a hint of blaming these poor marginalised members of the National Secular Society for great swathes of government policy. The NSS actually boasts about 7,000 members – the same number as the British Sausage Appreciation Society.

If that’s a takeover, the BNP are virtually at Downing Street. The problem isn’t the paltry number of ‘militant secularists’ or the rise of ‘aggressive secularism’: it’s the gulf that exists between what Baroness Warsi is preaching and what HM Government is practising. If Pope Benedict has got half a brain (which he surely has, along with two or three other halves as well) he must be wondering what on earth this woman takes him for…

Baroness Warsi insists that Christians ‘need to feel stronger in their religious identities, more confident in their beliefs’. This, she avers, ‘means individuals not diluting their faith…and nations not denying their religious heritage’.


This is a Cabinet minister of a government which fully supports Labour’s war against Roman Catholic adoption agencies, and intends to go even further than Tony Blair went with civil partnerships in a quest to redefine marriage. If that isn’t diluting faith and denying heritage, it’s difficult to know what is. Marriage isn’t exclusively Christian, but its essential heterogeneity is certainly part of our religious heritage: the Established Church maintains that the venerable institution consists of one man and one woman for the procreation of children.

Giles Fraser:

So why is it that intolerant religion and intolerant anti-religion are increasingly taking centre stage in our national debate? In the one corner The Richard Dawkins (anti-faith) Foundation is wanting to tell people who call themselves Christians that they really aren’t Christians at all – as if Richard Dawkins were the ideal arbiter on this subject.

And in the other corner, the likes of Lord Carey (busily promoting his new book) and Eric Pickles are complaining bitterly that Christians are being victimised and pushed out of the public square. Yesterday, chair of the Conservatives Lady Warsi warned that a “militant secularism” was taking hold. This, too, is nonsense. Suddenly, debates over religion are getting nasty, with both sides beginning to look more and more like each other: both angry, both agreeing that Christianity has to be literally understood and evangelically expressed in order to count as the real thing.

Stephen Pollard:

In The Daily Telegraph yesterday, Baroness Warsi highlighted the militant secularism on the march in Britain. But as Dr Fraser revealed, the atheist army is led by an embarrassingly feeble general. The arrogance and intolerance of the atheists, exemplified by Prof Dawkins, is their Achilles’ heel.

Last week’s court decision to ban prayers at the start of council meetings is all of a piece. The judge may or may not have got the law right – there will almost certainly be an appeal. But it is the National Secular Society which, in taking its case to court to have its views imposed on the rest of us, is responsible for the ban on Christians praying.

As a Jewish schoolboy, I had to sit through Christian prayers at the end of every assembly. It would not have occurred to me or any other Jew I knew that we should try to stop them praying in front of us. We were a small minority at a school with a large majority of Christians. I simply sat silently, my mind wandering off to other things.

The militant secularists, however, have only one modus operandi – attack. Respect for others’ views seems to be entirely missing from their moral calculus.

They entirely miss the irony of their position. Religious leaders who focus solely on a sectarian appeal to their own followers, and who seek to raise their own standing by diminishing the views of others, end up on the margins of serious debate. And as their noise drowns out the quieter, less confrontational majority, they act against their own religion’s interest.

Daily Mirror, Penman & Summerlad:

Perhaps what most annoyed me was Warsi’s claim that “militant secularisation” was reminiscent of “totalitarian regimes”. If she wants genuine current examples of totalitarian regimes, I can’t do better than point her in the direction of Islamic states.

I am not a militant, I think what I am asking for is very modest and it is simply this: by all means be religious and have a private dialogue with your god or gods, but please keep it private and don’t inflict your beliefs on me.

Is Warsi just vain? Or is she right?

Posted: 16th, February 2012 | In: Reviews Comments (2) | TrackBack | Permalink