Search

Opinion: We are a country of many faiths and none

PUBLISHED: 08:30 08 February 2020

East London Humanist, Paul Kaufman wants equality amongst faiths and those with none.

East London Humanist, Paul Kaufman wants equality amongst faiths and those with none.

Archant

An ‘unholy’ row has broken out in our ‘Mother of Parliaments’. It concerns prayer cards, seating and MPs’ ability to participate. It’s trivial in the context of, say, the climate emergency. But it speaks volumes about our outdated institutions.

A foreign observer might be amazed to learn that, while there are 650 MPs, the Commons chamber only has 427 seats. It is virtually impossible for an MP to ask a question at PMQs unless they have a seat. The only way to reserve one is by attending morning prayers and leaving a prayer card on it.

A complaint was made at the end of PMQs on 15 January by Tory MP Crispin Blunt. He is also chairman of the all-party parliamentary Humanist Group. Crispin pointed out to the speaker that the practice is not only unfair to non-believers like him, it is also unfair to those of non-CofE faith. They too may object to attending prayers they don't believe in just to guarantee the chance of taking part in the democratic process.

You may also want to watch:

Meanwhile in the Lords 26 unelected bishops decide on our laws and even have the right to speak first.

These bizarre, archaic practices might be ok in a theocracy like Iran, but they are at odds with a modern secular democracy.

The argument for having an established church, let alone the many privileges it enjoys, gets weaker by the day. January also witnessed BBC documentaries on former Bishop Peter Ball. He abused children for years and was sentenced to 32 months in 2015. One rotten apple? The real scandal is the institutional attempt by church leaders to protect him. Not least prospective 'Defender of the Faith' Prince Charles who provided Ball with testimonials.

A backward stance on women and gay equality has no doubt also contributed to the sharp decline in Church membership. Those who describe this as a 'Christian country' are kidding themselves.

Just look around you in Newham. We are a country of many faiths and beliefs. And most of us have no faith. It's about time our institutions treated us all equally.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Newham Recorder. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Newham Recorder