Baroness Warsi’s desperate leap of faith….
You get the distinct impression that Baroness Warsi’s trip to Rome is as much about giving David Cameron a welcome break as ‘fighting for the faith’. This is a rare moment where I feel sorry for the Pope, the last thing anybody wants to see is Warsi & Co stampeding up the steps of your home. Her tenure as Party Chairman has hit a new low in recent weeks as the Cabinet broke into open dissent over the NHS Reform Bill. In a desperate attempt to save her chairmanship it seems she has decided to take up the cudgels against ‘militant secularisation’.
Her article is a mess. For example, she states;
in the 20th century, one of the first acts of totalitarian regimes was the targeting of organised religion
This is something that certainly wasn’t true in Iran. Nor was it true of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Nor was it true of Germany under the Nazis where the regime had a complicated but not always hostile attitude to the Church. Her grasp of modern life and concepts is just as worrying as her wonky historiography.
She sets up a caricature of what secularisation actually is by creating ‘extreme secularisation’. Warsi deliberately confuses secularism with militant atheism; secularisation seeks to equalise the position of all faiths and no faith at all. So, yes that would mean no Bishops in the House of Lords, for example but that is the removal of a privilege, not the banishment of religion to purgatory. A secular state is one which treats the question of faith in a equidistant and therefore equal way; this is not the same as an atheist state which actively promotes atheism.
Warsi seems to suggest that religious people are a persecuted minority in public life when through having appointed representatives in the legislature and a special place in the state framework (through an established Church) they are a privileged minority. Cynically, I cant help but see her article as a desperate bid to shore up her position amoung the Party faithful who are probably as fed up with her as David Cameron must be.