Sunday, April 22, 2007

WASP Summary of the speech of Baroness Massey of Darwen in the House of Lords 19th April 2007, Relgion: Non Believers debate.

WASP Summary of the speech of noble Lord Baroness Massey of Darwen in the House of Lords 19th April 2007, Relgion: Non Believers debate.
Full text of speech here in Hansard (or with WASP highlights here).

highlights Main Points & Key Points.

TheyWorkForYou Baroness Massey entry, Baroness Massey Wikipedia entry.
Action: WASP to Send a message of thanks to Baroness Massey of Darwen

Baroness Massey of Darwen:

My Lords, I am very pleased that my noble friend Lord Harrison has secured this debate. It gives us the opportunity to explore some important issues to which I hope we shall return, including the view that spirituality, mystery, values, a full life and concern for others are not the property of the religious alone....

All types are entitled to respect, equal status and an equal profile. This does not always happen to those who profess no faith.

Fundamentalist views in religion are largely responsible, of course. Wars, torture and discrimination are some by-products of religion as well as human venality. I want to consider attitudes towards sexuality and women in religion....

... attitudes to sexuality and repression of sensible, healthy debate has been adversely affected by historical, religious attitudes. Extremism may appear ridiculous, but it is alive and well, and it is dangerous. It adversely affects those who do not adhere to its tenets. For example, recently an applicant for a postat a right-wing Christian college in Middlesbrough was grilled in the interview about his views on the Catholic Church, birth control and whether he believed in Noah's Ark. This man happens to be a Methodist lay preacher.

I was in the United States recently where it was reported that extreme members of a Baptist Church in Topeka had picketed burials around the country of American troops killed in combat in Iraq, claiming that their deaths were God's punishment for a nation harbouring homosexuals.

What is going on here? In his book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins suggests that religion may be a by-product of something else. Large numbers of people,

    “flatly contradict demonstrable scientific facts, as well as rival religions followed by others”.

They do indeed, and they often hide their prejudices behind professed religious faith. This prejudice shows itself in relation to sexuality, women, gay people, science and a host of other things.

People sometimes ask me, “Can you not accept that religion has inspired wonderful art, music, poetry and architecture?”, as referred to by my noble friend Lady Rendell. Well, not quite. Some great religious art, in its broadest sense, was initially condemned by religion, even defaced or destroyed. In any case, I argue that those artists were displaying a creative instinct rather than a religious one. I have immense respect for many courageous and humane people who profess a faith in your Lordships’ House. While I do not support the retention of the Bishops’ Benches, I have admired brave stances by the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Harries of Pentregarth, the former Bishop of Oxford, when he decried Section 28; and by the late Lord Sheppard, the former Bishop of Liverpool and a great cricketer, for devoting his life to the under-privileged. Such people and others like them would not deny rights to anyone, and would support diversity. I respect them as people, not as representatives of their faith.

I still distrust religion in its fundamental form, and am proud to be a humanist. I do not feel threatened. We are a growing number, and a more vocal group. We have a valid and important contribution to make to society. We should be consulted, locally and nationally, on issues which affect society. I hope that politicians will take note. Does the Minister agree?

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