It is difficult to be neutral sometimes, especially when you’re dealing with a subject that jars with your personal beliefs.
But difference is one of life’s beauties. It is the variegation of beliefs, philosophies and perspectives that come together to create a colourful tapestry that gives life its spice.
However, despite having this at the back our heads, feelings still run high when we run into statements that cut through our personal beliefs.
British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has repeatedly found himself on the receiving end lately, because of decisions/statements he made. The latest being his proclamation that Britain is a Christian country, and that British people should not be ashamed to say so.
Many people refuted the statement vociferously. On one radio programme, a Muslim listener said she felt his comment was ‘rude’ because Britain is home to many different religions, which is true.
Another commonly-held argument was that Britain is not a Christian country. It is a secular state that must keep religion out of politics. Borrowing the words of a former government PR officer, “We don’t do God”.
The thrust of the argument for critics is that secular neutrality is a safer bet.
A secular country will, at all costs, remain neutral in matters relating to religion. It will neither support religion nor non-religion. That ensures the equal treatment of citizens.
The opposite of secularism is theocracy. It is derived from a Greek word which means ‘rule of God’, and it is a rule in which God and his law is sovereign. Iran and Saudi Arabia are examples of theocratic countries.
Both are Islamic states, hence they enforce Islamic laws which can have dire consequences. Last week (December 13th), a woman was beheaded for practicing witchcraft and sorcery.
In a secular state, that would not happen. Hence such incidents lend credence to the argument for secularism. But that is just one side of the coin.
In the next post, I will examine if government’s can be neutral and if neutrality is the best option.
Before then feel free to send in your comments/suggestions. Do you think religion has a role to play in politics, or should it be left out completely?