Britain Violates the Idea of Religious Equality, Too!

Coel Hellier has created a list of what he considers to be Britain’s “10 Worst Violations of Religious Equality.

For example:

(4) Bishops in the Lords: Why are we the only nation other than Iran that has special places in our legislature for religious clerics? The House of Lords is of course a historical hodge-podge that would be hard to defend in any case, but the idea of Church of England bishops having 26 places in the Lords where they can vote on our laws is about 300 years out of date. They use this privilege to oppose moral advances, for example voting against civil partnerships and gay marriage, and then pretending that they didn’t.

They’re still helping to block the legalisation of assisted suicide, against the wishes of 71% of the nation… [Unbelievably], when Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg proposed Lords reform in 2012 he advocated elected members … and the retention of some unelected bishops!

Hmm… They’re giving Republicans a run for their money.

You can all fight over what’s worse: Bishops getting automatic seats in the House of Lords or Americans electing religious wingnuts even when we don’t have to.

Check out the rest of Coel’s list and offer your own additions/changes below!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.westley Brian Westley

    Read the whole list; it’s one of the best summaries of religious privilege in the UK I’ve ever seen.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    brits are a funny people. they have monarchy, but democratic government, mostly. they have bad food that is good. and bad teeth, but national health care that kicks the US ass by comparison. they drink beer for breakfast, and eat some of the world’s best Indian, Chinese and French food you can buy (at least in London). they have Scottish radicals more liberal/left than me, and conservative religious freaks that make NOM look like a democratic party organization. they have a show called “Prime Minister’s Questions” where women wear wigs. men’s wigs.

    i love the british empire and would very much like to live in London. i spent a week there a few years back and totally fell in love. those little breakfast sausages! the clubbing below the river, the dancing! the music! the shopping! even their poor people get a better shake than ours.

    i’m sometimes proud to be an amurkin, but there are days when i really, really want to run to buckingham palace, kneel before the queen, and ask for citizenship. ;-)

    • Adam Thorn

      I wouldn’t try running at the queen though, probably won’t make it. The monarchy doesn’t have any real power here we just roll them out for special events and stuff. Surprisingly and disappointingly they have a lot of support from the people to stay in power, well not power but staying rich on our tax money.

      And I won’t hear a word against the bad teeth stereotype unless you want to get into the “obese” nation stereotype.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ajhayteruk Adam Hayter

        I’m not too fond of of the Royal Family and such, but I’d actually rather KEEP them if you are looking at it from a Tax perspective. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhyYgnhhKFw

    • Graham Martin-Royle

      I’ll have you know that my teeth are fine, all 7 of them! So there! ;-)

    • Sindigo

      We very rarely drink beer for breakfast. Hardly at all any more in fact. I do like the description of PMQ’s as a “show”; that about sums it up.

    • Steve

      Yes, we are a funny people and proud to be different! Hope you had your tongue firmly embedded in your cheek when you say we drink beer for breakfast, Americans seem to have strange misconceptons about the British! Not forgetting the idea that everything starts and finishes in that hellhole called London!! As for the list, I agree with everything, especially the anomaly of unelected peers and Anglican male bishops having the gall to block much needed legislation.

    • Tim

      The key difference politically is that your country was born of revolution (and proud of it). The UK evolved with comprise and fudge and half finished reforms.
      Orwell thought that if England ever had a socialist revolution…
      “It will not be doctrinaire, nor even logical. It will abolish the House of Lords, but quite probably will not abolish the Monarchy. It will leave anachronisms and loose ends everywhere, the judge in his ridiculous horsehair wig and the lion and the unicorn on the soldier’s cap-buttons.”

      • Sindigo

        He was almost right. Just a few more pesky reforms to get through.

    • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

      That bad teeth thing is a HUGE exaggeration. I’m not British, but I enjoy going there very much. I find a disconnect between the way the people are and the official line supported by government.

    • Pisk_A_Dausen

      The NHS doesn’t care about teeth. :( Although I suspect the main cause of ugly teeth over here is rugby… Dental care aside, I still fell in love with this country enough to move here for a few years. Came for the chips and politeness, leaving because of the plumbing. :P Haven’t seen much of religion here, really (not counting the churches – lots of those), with the exception of two people pushing it in the street. (On the same day, too. Only time I’ve experienced it in five years.)

      One invited me for tea and a chance to get to know the people in the area. Jesus wasn’t mentioned either in the street or during my visit (confession: was hoping for a brimstone preacher; got tea). The other used a megaphone to tell everyone within earshot they were worthless, because God. So my opinion of either people or religion didn’t really change much that day.

  • Michael

    It is worth pointing out that the bishops in the Lords have a 3% voting bloc on laws being passed. It’s not as huge as people would imagine, even though it would be better if they weren’t there.

  • http://twitter.com/BarryCPearson Barry Pearson

    There is an even worse way of stating this: in effect, the UK reserves 26 seats for MEN in the upper chamber! So this is bad on many levels. (They are the 26 seats for Church of England Bishops. And the Church of England still doesn’t allow women to be bishops).

    • Tim

      The C of E vote on not allowing women to be bishops have a silver lining. It makes reserved places in the Lords much harder to defend. I hope they will be gone in my lifetime.

  • http://twitter.com/BarryCPearson Barry Pearson

    But – the Deputy Prime Minister is openly atheist, and an earlier Prime Minister (Blair) was warned not to talk too much about religion on the grounds that “we don’t do God”. There is a massive imbalance between those stupid religious privileges and the relative lack of religiosity in the population as a whole. I hope to see dis-establishment in my lifetime.

    • Graham Martin-Royle

      I too would like to see dis-establishment but those of a religious nature would rather that the reserved seats were widened to allow those of other faiths a special place in the chamber.

    • http://www.facebook.com/93rhepburn Ross Alexander Hepburn

      Actually it was the then lead spin doctor who said “We don’t do god”. Tony Blair is a devout catholic.

  • http://twitter.com/docslacker MD

    Religious education being mandatory really really irks me. My kids go to a (English) National Curriculum school and have to have weekly religion lessons, but after several parents spoke up, the classes were made more ecumenical.
    And thankfully the weekly assembly is only for announcements and to remind kids to be kind. Awwww.


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