Wednesday, 15 February 2012
I don't know personally many, if any, lords and ladies - or knights of the realm for that matter.
But what I do know is that the present self-styled 'chairman' of the Conservative party - Baroness Warsi - is ever so slightly barking mad.
Apparently the noble Baroness is out to turn back the tide of 'militant secularisation' - on the basis that religion is being 'sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere'.
The noble Baroness was off to the Vatican the other day - where she was planning to give a big speech expanding on her thoughts.
I can hardly wait to read what she has to say - but my initial reaction is what a load of old tosh.
The reason for the hysteria is the high court ruling in England the other day - which said that prayers should form no part of official council meetings.
Now who in their right mind could complain about that?
Because the assembled gathering is a council meeting - not a prayer meeting - and invoking religion at the start of proceedings is completely irrelevant to the business at hand.
If you give evidence in court nowadays - you are given a choice of taking an oath to 'tell the truth' - either on the Bible or by 'affirming' which involves reading out a non-religious statement of your truthful intentions.
I presume a Koran is available for people who follow an Islamic faith - and so on.
The whole point of this is obvious - telling the truth is not a religious affair and it would be ridiculous to pretend that everyone - believers and non-believers alike - can only tell the truth if they swear their intentions on a supposedly 'holy' book.
Now I grant you that there are people in some countries who would cut your knackers off - for not swearing the oath on their holy book.
In fact there are people in some countries who would cut your knackers off - for not believing in their holy book in the first place.
But that is not the mark of a civilised, educated and tolerant society - which is what we have, broadly speaking, in the UK and in Scotland.
Of course there are men in robes - some in beards - who would do things very differently - but that is why religion and the state are separate.
Which is why the affairs of government and of all official institutions - should remain that way.