1Religious privilege

A Piece of the Action (or “if you can’t beat them, join them”)

2am comes around again and here I am on another mission to save my sanity, or maybe better this time, to save the world.

Conversation over dinner last night turned to the subject of religion (maybe unsurprisingly for an atheistic household) and I posited how a lack of belief in god should be celebrated more; specifically being able to survive the challenges of everyday life without the knowledge that some greater power “has your back” or is there to answer the call if you need extra support.

Surely if we are living without this it should be recognised as quite an achievement by believers, even if that recognition is tinged with sadness for us living without a god and his love. OK, so that might be disingenuous but while I have questioned people’s beliefs when the topic has turned to religion, I fail to remember being met with the same level of inquiry to understand life from the other side of the belief divide.

And now I am awake again in the early hours and find myself thinking on a related but more fervently impassioned tangent. What would it take to create a new religion? If we are truly predispositioned to believe and large parts of society are so resistant to the encroachment of secularism, how can a non-believer leverage the religious privilege that is enjoyed by those of faith?

When can I start a school that can access government funding and choose specifically which children it wants to attend? When can I remove my own children from parts of the education curriculum where I think the government has it wrong? When can I get my un-elected position in the house of lords? When can I write off tax against money spent on things that I believe in? When can I get my slot on Radio 4s “thought for the day”?

No of course I’m not serious; a claim to any such privilege is completely specious regardless of whatever worthy, noble, righteous, or doctrinally imposed beliefs I may hold.

That is entirely the point.

Whatever my identity (gender,race,sexuality,beliefs,heritage) I, and anyone who shares any element of common bond with me, or shares none at all, should be considered equal in the eyes of the law and have the same rights and protections.

What I choose to believe (or declare as a personally held belief) should neither elevate or disadvantage me – assuming that my beliefs cause no harm to others.

Someone accused me of being an ideologue the other day. Having had to look the word up I’m now happy to own that; some ideas are worth hanging on to whatever opposition you come up against.

Donovan.