The Telegraph had this leader comment on the speech by Baroness Warsi: Faith must not be driven from Britain’s public life
Baroness Warsi, the chairman of the Conservative Party, today leads a heavyweight ministerial delegation to the Vatican to mark the 30th anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s decision to restore full diplomatic relations between our two states. She has used the opportunity to urge people to be far less timid about their faith and to challenge what she calls “militant secularisation”. It is unsurprising that it has taken a Muslim member of the Cabinet to speak out clearly and forcefully on the importance of faith in the life of the nation; followers of Islam tend to be less mealy-mouthed about their beliefs than many Christians.
Lady Warsi argues that society will be healthier if people “feel stronger in their religious identities and more confident in their creeds”. That means “individuals not diluting their faiths and nations not denying their religious heritages”. She makes an important point. Our history and culture are formed by the Christian faith. The way we are governed is linked directly to the schism in the Church almost half a millennium ago: in England, we have an Established Church of which the head of state is the Supreme Governor…
Andrew Brown wrote at Cif belief that Militant secularists fail to understand the rules of secular debate.
Reading Julian Baggini’s lucid defence of secularism in the light of three years of comments on Cif belief, the point becomes obvious that among the people who most misunderstand it are the militant atheist secularists. But who are they?
There are three kinds of people in Britain today who might be taken for militant secularists: that is to say people who are not just themselves unbelievers, but have an emotional investment in the extirpation of religious belief in others. There are the adolescents who have just discovered “rationality”; there are gay people who feel personally threatened by traditional monotheist morality; and, in this country, there are parents frustrated by the admissions policy of religiously controlled schools…
Catherine Pepinster interviewed Baroness Warsi for the Tablet: Slaying the secular dragon.
…speaking to The Tablet the day before she left, she made it clear that problems with the place of women or sex in the Church was not on her agenda.
“Whenever we talk about faith, the debate always comes back to religion versus sexuality. But when we go to the Vatican that is not the important issue. There are so much more pressing ones,” she said. So forget the hot-button issues of the domestic agenda such as same-sex marriage. Instead she and her delegation spoke about climate change, poverty in the developing world, the environment and inter-faith dialogue.
But above all, Baroness Warsi was using the two-day visit to express her conviction that religion must have a clear role in public life and must not be pushed to the sidelines. In a speech to the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the school for papal diplomats, she endorsed Pope Benedict’s call for religion to have a place in society’s discourse. But the language she used was far more sensational than his, talking of “militant secularisation” gripping Europe. The day before, in her office at the House of Lords, though, her language was a little more thoughtful when she said: “I’m arguing for faith to have a seat at the table, for it to be a voice amongst other voices. More and more other voices are heard and the voice of faith is not heard.”