There is a concerted campaign on this site, reflecting one in society more widely, to prohibit religious worship and faith-based schooling. People representing the ‘New Atheism’ believe that to have faith is stupid or evil, and accuse organized religion of being identical with ‘brainwashing’ and religious education of being ‘child abuse’. Many are calling for the complete secularization of the UK. In a civilized society such people are entitled to express their opinion, but when they organize and campaign for the extirpation of religion from daily life, the issue ceases to be their freedom of speech, and becomes a question of the civil liberties of everybody else. The bigotry and bile displayed by the secular movement is staggering, and very frightening – the government should ensure that those who wish to live by religious precepts are protected from them.
Religious tolerance was one of the first and most important steps along the road to a liberal society, and the principle of universal toleration is among the most vital of all in establishing and preserving a framework in which people are able to live in a civilized way together, despite holding differing views. Removing the right of religious people to live in the way they wish will be an unprecedented retrograde step. Most religions hold that their lifestyles and ethics do not stop outside the home, as secularists claim should be the case, but rather are codes which believers must abide by at all times – at work, at school, and in public.
The right – in fact, the duty – of parents to raise and educate their children to the best of their ability is basic and fundamental: it is no-one’s responsibility more than theirs. Faith schools enable parents to make the choices they feel are right and necessary for their children. They provide often excellent education for children who attend them, and employ teachers as capable and committed as any in the education sector. The government must protect faith schools, and those who attend them and work in them, from the hatred and intolerance of those who wish to destroy them, and ensure that no child is denied access to truthful and impartial religious education as a result of secular ideology in the state or society.
The repeal of laws protecting religious belief from ‘hate speech’ must be repealed, along with all laws which give special protection to specific groups, but which is not available to all: thus, religious hatred, racial hatred, homophobic hatred and all other kinds of ‘discrimination’ will no longer infringe the universal right to criticize people and beliefs with which we disagree. Everyone will benefit from such a levelling of the playing field, including people of all faiths and reasonable people who have none, but do not hate those that do.