Tobias Jones and 'Militant Fundamentalism'
Apparently ‘secular fundamentalists’ wish for the ‘total eradication of religion’, and they do this by instilling upon the unsuspecting public a belief that open expression of faith is offensive to other religions. But this wasn’t so successful, so instead the violent reactions to the Danish Cartoons (which have been dealt with here previously) and the Jerry Springer Opera ‘were wheeled out as examples of why religious groups are unable to live with our cherished freedom and tolerance’.
Subsequently, atheists develop a superiority complex over believers and preach that 9/11 and subsequent conflicts are due to religion. However, Jesus, Tobias claims, invented secularism. I’d agree with the author on this, if he can please openly advocate the disestablishment of the Church of England and the end to all state-funded faith schools.
Lets have a look at this. First of all, Tobias is using the words ‘secularism’ and ‘atheism’ as interchangeable. They are clearly not- the former denotes a political belief in the separation of Church and State, the latter a non-belief in God or a religious deity. It is possible to be religious and believe in the separation of Church and State, and for religion to be more private than public- just ask the Reverend Barry W. Lynn, leader of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Though the National Secular Society, or certainly its members, can be guilty of using the two words interchangeably as well.
Tobias also speaks of ‘our cherished freedom and tolerance’. Your damn sure it’s cherished Jones, and one process by which Britain and the West has reached this point, where these values are held so highly by governments and citizens, is by throwing off the shackles which organised religion held down for so long. The cartoons will be published, the plays performed and not because we want you to be offended- though if you are, live with it- but because we have the right to do so.
However, my largest picked bone with Tobias is his comments on postmodernism. ‘It tries to rescue the marginalised’ ‘The tyranny of orthodoxy has been replaced by the tyranny of relativism’. Well of course he isn’t a fan of postmodernism, Tobias is religious. What’s the alternative? To state, in a globalised and fragmented world, where I can eat fruit from South America, drive a car made in the U.S.A, read news stories about Africa and have my blog read from China all in one day, that there exists an absolute truth, a universalising concept which can override all opposition? The age of reason had to be going somewhere. It tries to rescue the marginalised? Good, I’m pretty sure that’s what the world needs- how about the Vatican giving some of its money to AIDS research rather than promoting abstinence as a cure and condoms as evil?
‘They will dictate what you can wear and what you can say. That, after all, is what totalitarians do’. Quite frankly, that phrase is simply wrong and hypocritical. Is self-censorship in the face of religious anger not preventing what you can say? Is stating that women must dress’ modestly’ not telling you what you can wear?
I’ll be raising my glass to Theo Van Gogh tonight.