Secularism is not a state of neutrality warns columnist

The rising tide of secularism is not a state of neutrality but an attempt to get rid of religion and enforce its own values and beliefs, a top media commentator has warned.

“The public sphere is conceived as being neutral and neutrality is interpreted as being without religion”, Melanie Phillips told the Church of England Newspaper.

“I believe that in fact there is no neutrality in the culture wars.” She says that secularism is often presented as neutral, “but to be secular is to embrace certain values and beliefs. Instead of neutrality there is an attempt to get rid of religion and to promote something else instead.”


The commentator added: “It has produced a ‘me society’, a society of great selfishness and increasing cruelty and brutality. We no longer see the need to put other people first. Instead we adopt an instrumental approach towards them.”

She also pointed out that Britain’s Judeo-Christian heritage gave rise to values of “freedom, equality and putting other people first”.

She warned: “There definitely is a tide of secularism which is carrying all before it. It sees religion as hostile to those values I have just mentioned when in fact it is religion that underpins them.”


Earlier this month Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic berated the BBC for the secular and liberal bias which pervades their news and current affairs programmes.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien also warned that prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins are given disproportionate airtime by the broadcaster.

The Cardinal’s comments were echoed by a former BBC assistant editor who said that the bias is so “dominant” at the Corporation that it is deemed a “neutral world view”.


“That’s what leads to so many instances of unthinking, unintended, institutional bias against both traditional forms of Christianity and social conservativism in general”, said David Kerr, who now works for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland.

In July the Government Minister for Communities said the state will no longer try to clamp down on Christianity.

Eric Pickles, speaking at a meeting of faith leaders, declared: “The days of the state trying to suppress Christianity and other faiths are over.”


Mr Pickles, who in the run up to the General Election was Chairman of the Conservative Party, also commented: “Some see religion as a problem that needs to be solved. The new Government sees it as part of the solution.”

Earlier in the same month Andy Burnham, a candidate for the Labour Party leadership, said his party needed to apologise for creating a culture which sidelined Christians.

Last year the former Bishop of Rochester warned that Islam and “aggressive secularism” are threatening Britain’s Christian values.


Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, speaking to The Daily Telegraph, said aggressive secularism was seeking to undermine traditional principles in order to foster its own project.

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