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UK Government Minister Slams ‘Militant Secularism’
LONDON (AP) — When it comes to religion, British politicians tend to heed the famous advice of Tony Blair’s spin doctor, Alastair Campbell — “We don’t do God.” In contrast to the United States, the deity is rarely invoked on the campaign trail or in political speeches.
But a Muslim Cabinet minister has become the latest member of Prime Minister David Cameron’s government to urge the country to embrace its Christian heritage. Sayeeda Warsi also said that “militant” secularism poses a threat to Europe, a comment that has angered atheists and highlighted the divisive political potential of religion.
Her views will strike a chord with some religious Britons who feel threatened by growing secularization and by recent anti-discrimination cases, including one that saw Christian hoteliers fined for refusing to allow a gay couple to stay in a double room.
In an article published Tuesday in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Warsi urged Europe “to become more confident in its Christianity.”
“You cannot and should not extract (the) Christian foundations from the evolution of our nations any more than you can or should erase the spires from our landscapes,” she wrote.
“My fear today is that a militant secularization is taking hold of our societies,” she added, accusing some atheists of having the same intolerant instincts as authoritarian regimes.
Warsi, a prominent member of Cameron’s Conservative Party, is leading a delegation of British government ministers to the Vatican, where they are due to meet Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday.
In a speech in Rome, Warsi said that “too often there is a suspicion of faith in our continent.” She said in Britain religion has been “sidelined, marginalized and downgraded” and “faith is looked down on as the hobby of ‘oddities, foreigners and minorities.'”