Aggressive secularism is undermining Britain’s Christian values and could lead to “totalitarianism”, Bishop Nazir-Ali has warned.
The former Bishop of Rochester also cautioned that Britain is no longer a free society and lamented that respect for human life has been undermined by a secular worldview.
Speaking at the Christian Broadcasting Council’s annual conference earlier this month the Bishop warned that “encroaching totalitarianism” was threatening respect for conscience.
He said: “What we are facing is not a free society, but an ideology that is seeking to impose its views on us.
“We are making the assumption that conscience will be respected because we are living in a free society. But we are not in that society anymore.”
He added: “All the secular experiments in polity in the world have not resulted in freedom, but in totalitarianism.”
Bishop Nazir-Ali also warned that the prevailing secular worldview was undermining respect for human life.
He said: “Respect for the human person at the earliest stages of life has been eroded because of the demands of science and huge commercial interests, and because of a world view that is relativistic – that cannot explain any notion of the dignity of the human person.
“If you can dispense with a person at the earliest stage of life why not do it at the later stages. Or in between? What will we do when a person does not respond to our signals? Will we turn off the machine?
“The great tragedy is, in the very age that pain can be managed, when we can be sure people who are terminally ill can be cared for, people are arguing that those who are terminally ill should have their lives ended.
“We have also abandoned the public doctrine of marriage and will go further and further away from any normative position on marriage.”
Bishop Nazir-Ali also urged a recovery of a Judeo-Christian discourse and the values of the Bible.
He said: “We must recover the Judaeo-Christian story as a way of recovering the nation’s past and story but also as a way of making legislative decisions.
“There is hardly any piece of legislation that comes to parliament which does not have a moral or spiritual aspect.”
The Bishop was speaking at the annual conference of the Christian Broadcasting Council which was held jointly with Christian Concern this year.
Earlier this month a judge at the European Court of Human Rights said that secularism is optional, but religious liberty is non-negotiable.
A fellow judge said secularism isn’t neutral, and requiring a state to pursue a secularist agenda risks intolerance.
The stark warnings came as the Grand Chamber of the ECHR ruled that the display of crucifixes in Italian state schools was not a breach of human rights, reversing a previous decision from 2009.
In his decision Judge Giovanni Bonello said: “Freedom of religion is not secularism. Freedom of religion is not the separation of Church and State.
“Freedom of religion is not religious equidistance – all seductive notions, but of which no one has so far appointed this Court to be the custodian. In Europe, secularism is optional, freedom of religion is not.”
In her judgment Judge Ann Power warned that the pursuit of secularism could actually lead to intolerance of others beliefs.
She said: “Neutrality requires a pluralist approach on the part of the State, not a secularist one. It encourages respect for all world views rather than a preference for one.”