Secularism Denies our history & Destroys our Identity


Telegraph UK
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ABSTRACTSecularism denies our history and destroys our identity – Telegraph Blogs Wednesday 4 April 2012 | Blog Feed | All feeds Website of the Telegraph Media Group with breaking news, sport, business, latest UK and world news. Content from the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph newspapers and video from Telegraph TV. Home News Sport Finance Comment Blogs Culture Travel Lifestyle Fashion Tech Dating Offers Jobs UK World Politics Obituaries Education Earth Science Defence Health News Royal Family Celebrities Weird News Blogs Home » News » Religion » Tim Stanley Tim Stanley Dr Tim Stanley is a historian of the United States. His biography of Pat Buchanan is out now. His personal website is www.timothystanley.co.uk and you can follow him on Twitter @timothy_stanley . Secularism denies our history and destroys our identity By Tim Stanley Religion Last updated: February 12th, 2012 Comment on this Comment on this article British history is defined by faith I got a phone call from my mother on Saturday. She opened with “Tim, they’re trying to outlaw Christianity in England.” I think she had slightly misread the effort to ban prayers at council meetings , but I understood what she meant. My mom is an unapologetic, born again Baptist, and – from her perspective – she lives in frightening times. One of the things that I love about America (I’m currently living in Washington DC) is that it’s a country where religion is part of the geography and language of everyday life. For someone who grew up in a religious household, that’s normal and nice. But it’s certainly not the norm for most contemporary Britons. Religion has been slowly squeezed out of mainstream British culture. I find – and I recognise that this is a subjective appraisal – that this makes the UK quite a sterile place to live. For you don’t need to believe in God to see the cultural value of belief. For good and bad, it has shaped global history for thousands of years. To eradicate it from the public sphere is to eradicate one’s own history. It leaves us without a shared identity. The history of my mother’s family was shaped by religion. In the 17th century, they fled the Catholic terror in France and settled in a Huguenot community in England. In the 18th century, they joined the Methodist craze and all became preachers. In the 19th, a few were conscripted into the Salvation Army while the rest became Christian Spiritualists. My grandparents actually met at a séance in London. My grandmother was a child prodigy clairvoyant and she was hired to make contact with my grandfather’s recently deceased dad. They hit it off and got married. In the 1960s, they branched out into the New Age and my grandmother claimed to have read Nureyev’s palm (who didn’t?). My mother was sent to the local Anglican church every Sunday morning so that my grandparents could have the house to themselves for a bit of “brunchtime delight.” My mother became a puritanical Christian in reaction to their “decadence” and joined the Baptists. I rebelled against that and became a Catholic. And here I am. My family’s religious history is the history of Great Britain. It reflects the shifting social contexts of their time – the French invasion, industrial growth and social reform, the hippie cult and the evangelical revival. The only thing absent is the multicultural revolution of the 1960s, driven by mass immigration. It was probably a little disquieting at first, but now I rejoice that my island is home to so many vibrant faiths. I remember as a child opening the wrong door at a friend’s house and walking in on a little old Hindu lady sitting on her bed meditating. I shall never forget the extraordinary patterns on her gold sari, and that wise smile that she gave me – a wordless greeting from one mere mortal to another. Faith has never been an abstract part of British life. On the contrary, it has shaped many of the efforts to improve it. One thing I inherited from my grandmother was a political pacifism. Every year in Kent, a group of us gather to commemorate the people who died in the fireball at Hiroshima. In a Shinto tradition, we float little paper boats down the River Darent. The prayers are read by a Unitarian priest and most of the people there are Quakers. At the heart of this intensely socialist service is … God. I don’t share my mother’s pessimism that the latest effort to divide public life and religion is “the beginning of the end,” but I do share her sadness about h.......