Eric Pickles: ‘Britain still a Christian nation – get over it’

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Communities secretary calls on militant atheists to stop imposing 'politically correct intolerance' on UK's Christians

Militant atheists should "get over it" and accept that Britain is a Christian country, communities secretary Eric Pickles has said.

Pickles changed the law in 2012 to ensure that English parish councils could not face legal challenges for including prayers in public meetings, and has previously accused the former Labour government of "diminishing Christianity" by suggesting that religion and politics could not mix.

This weekend, he told delegates at the Conservative spring forum in London that non-believers should not be able to impose "politically correct intolerance" on others.

"I've stopped an attempt by militant atheists to ban councils having prayers at the start of meetings if they wish," said Pickles. "Heaven forbid. We're a Christian nation. We have an established Church. Get over it. And don't impose your politically correct intolerance on others."

Pickles also said that the government had "backed British values" by stopping Whitehall from "appeasing extremism", whether it comes from the English Defence League, militant Islamists or "the thuggish hard left".

"They're all as bad as each other," he added.

continue to source article at theguardian.com

43 COMMENTS

  1. Why is it that when ever rationalists speak their minds, they’re accused of being aggressive, or intolerant, or politically correct, or, what ever?

    Could it be that the accusers aren’t thinking for themselves, or are not actually listening to what’s being said, or are lazily repeating popular received platitudinous ideas, or, heaven forbid, vote mining?

    • In reply to #1 by Stafford Gordon:

      Why is it that when ever rationalists speak their minds, they’re accused of being aggressive, or intolerant, or politically correct, or, what ever?

      ‘Speaking our minds’ has hitherto been considered a social right. So why is it felt necessary to impose a ban on people speaking their minds to the Almighty if they so choose?

      • In reply to #27 by CumbriaSmithy:

        In reply to #1 by Stafford Gordon:

        Why is it that when ever rationalists speak their minds, they’re accused of being aggressive, or intolerant, or politically correct, or, what ever?

        ‘Speaking our minds’ has hitherto been considered a social right. So why is it felt necessary to impose a ban on pe…

        Where does that come from? Whoever said anything about “Banning people from speaking their minds,” apart from, possibly, Pickles.

      • In reply to #27 by CumbriaSmithy:

        In reply to #1 by Stafford Gordon:

        ‘Speaking our minds’ has hitherto been considered a social right. So why is it felt necessary to impose a ban on people speaking their minds to the Almighty if they so choose?

        The point as I made earlier, is that the public pay councillors to read, evaluate and take decisions on important reports and matters which involve large sums of public money and affect many people.
        If some of them want to talk to their invisible friends, sing songs, chant poems, read poetry, paint pictures, or pursue other personal interests, they can do so in their own time. Not when they are being paid public money to conduct thousands or millions of pounds-worth of public business!

        Nobody has “a social right” to chatter on, or gossip about off agenda issues, during a business meeting!

        Personally I would find listening a country and western band quite entertaining during a meeting, but that is not what public representatives are paid for, when they have multi-million pound budgets and deadlines on the agenda!

  2. One has to wonder in what sense Britain may still be a Christian nation. Certainly in the constitutional sense, given that its head of state is head of the established church of the realm; but relatively few of the nation’s citizens actually go to church on a regular basis. Another sense in which Britain can be seen as a Christian nation is from the perspective of history. Mediaeval Britain was certainly a Christian nation, and there is plenty of evidence of that in present-day British culture (the universities, parishes, educational system, established religion, and so on), yet all these are no more than relics of a once-flourishing religion.

    I suspect that Mr Pickles and his ilk like the old traditions of Britain and do not want them subjected to any criticism, because they offer the traditionalist a sense of stability in familiar surroundings. But so few Britons now actually believe in Christianity that those old traditions are becoming more and more delusory. What else can the likes of Mr Pickles say when someone points out that, for example, prayers at council meetings exclude non-Christian citizens, than to accuse that person of aggressiveness and political correctness? It is not a rebuttal of the point made, but a fallacious response that attacks the person instead of the point made (argumentum ad hominem). The sooner Britain disestablishes the church, the better.

    • In reply to #3 by Cairsley:

      One has to wonder in what sense Britain may still be a Christian nation. Certainly in the constitutional sense, given that its head of state is head of the established church of the realm; but relatively few of the nation’s citizens actually go to church on a regular basis. Another sense in which Br…

      I always avoid stooping to the argumentum ad hominem, but unfortunately quite a large number of contributors to this site do employ it; it’s a weakening strategy, as we saw with Nick Clegg in his “debate” with Nigel Farage last week.

      • In reply to #4 by Stafford Gordon:

        I always avoid stooping to the argumentum ad hominem, but unfortunately quite a large number of contributors to this site do employ it; it’s a weakening strategy, as we saw with Nick Clegg in his “debate” with Nigel Farage last week.

        Yes, it is best avoided. Mr Pickles has shown his own lack of reason in the matter of Britain’s vanishing religion by employing this very tactic.

  3. Pickles is a political wind-bag who lives in a little world of self-delusion, as was recently illustrated when he tried to blame the experts at the environment agency, for the advice on climate and flooding, which the government had ignored and over-ruled!

    Eric Pickles “more use as a sandbag” and up to his neck in political mudslinging over floodinghttp://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/flooding-row-eric-pickles-more-3132682

    Floods minister Eric Pickles was up to his neck in political mudslinging – as ministers bickered among themselves in worsening weather .

    One critic said he would be “more use as a sandbag” after he blamed the Environment Agency over the crisis.

  4. “Heaven forbid. We’re a Christian nation. We have an established Church. Get over it. And don’t impose your politically correct intolerance on others.”

    It is established religions that impose their politically correct intolerance on the rest of society, whether one is religious or not.

  5. Militant atheists should “get over it” and accept that Britain is a Christian country, communities secretary Eric Pickles has said.

    Translation: I’m an ignorant fool, and the atheist should “get over it”.

    Or this is perhaps what Eric Pickles’ colleague in Saudi Arabia would say: Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country. We cut of limbs and stone people to death. The rationalists should “get over it”.

    Of all the bad arguments, the argument “this is how we have always done things” has to be among the worst. In fact it really isn’t even an argument. It’s just a statement of how things are. You can rewind the clock to any given time in history and you’ll find some ignoramus using this pseudo-argument to prevent progress. “We have always had slaves, get over it”, “women have never been allowed to vote, get over it”, “homosexuality has always been illegal, get over it”, “we have always had porridge for breakfast, get over it”…

  6. What else can the likes of Mr Pickles say when someone points out that, for example, prayers at council meetings exclude non-Christian citizens, than to accuse that person of aggressiveness and political correctness?

    He may just say so what. If you feel excluded from participating in government because you don’t pray that’s unfortunate. You are of course free to fully participate in the government as is everyone else and to the same degree by exercising your right to vote, to assemble for political causes, and to seek election etc. What you take exception to then is not your being excluded from government, but a cultural tradition.

    Or something like that…

  7. I’ve always said we should ridicule Pickles for his unpleasant politics rather than for his looks. It turns out there’s no need as it seems he’s doing it himself.

    That said, he is a fat idiot.

  8. “I’ve stopped an attempt by militant atheists to ban councils having prayers at the start of meetings if they wish,” said Pickles.

    “… if they wish.” is an important phrase in Pickles’s statement, surely. If a council democratically votes to say prayers at its meetings surely it should not be prevented from doing so. If it votes to not pray, then so be it. Democracy working properly. Amen!

    • In reply to #12 by CumbriaSmithy:

      “… if they wish.” is an important phrase in Pickles’s statement, surely. If a council democratically votes to say prayers at its meetings surely it should not be prevented from doing so. If it votes to not pray, then so be it. Democracy working properly. Amen!

      All the council meetings I have attended, had wads of detailed paperwork and a very full agenda to be fitted into the limited time available, with lots of important business affecting large sums of public money and many people.

      I would suggest that anyone who thinks there is spare time for praying to Krishna, Allah, Yahweh etc, has probably not done their homework, so they are just filling in time to collect an attendance allowance without doing their job! (A bit like Pickles?) Praying should be done on their own time at their own expense.

    • In reply to #12 by CumbriaSmithy:

      “I’ve stopped an attempt by militant atheists to ban councils having prayers at the start of meetings if they wish,” said Pickles.

      “… if they wish.” is an important phrase in Pickles’s statement, surely. If a council democratically votes to say prayers at its meetings surely it should not be prev…

      The tyranny of the masses is not a properly functioning democracy. Pickles wants his opinion and is not even imagining all counsels voting to NOT pray.

    • In reply to #12 by CumbriaSmithy:

      “… if they wish.” is an important phrase in Pickles’s statement, surely. If a council democratically votes to say prayers at its meetings surely it should not be prevented from doing so. If it votes to not pray, then so be it. Democracy working properly. Amen!

      Luckily, that doesn’t (or at least isn’t supposed to) fly in the U.S., thanks to the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. Amen! ;-)

      Steve

  9. @OP Militant atheists should “get over it” and accept that Britain is a Christian country, communities secretary Eric Pickles has said.

    Pickles needs to “get over” himself, and realise, that but for some very stupid people appointing him to a ministerial post where he is a menace, none of the public would care what he thinks, or how clueless his pronouncements are!

    Meanwhile, for people who actually do their homework before opening their mouths!

    Christianity declining 50pc faster than thought

    A new analysis of the 2011 census shows that a decade of mass immigration helped mask the scale of decline in Christian affiliation among the British-born population – while driving a dramatic increase in Islam, particularly among the young.

    The proportion of young people who describe themselves as even nominal Christians has dropped below half for the first time.

    Initial results from the 2011 census published last year showed that the total number of people in England and Wales who described themselves as Christian fell by 4.1 million – a decline of 10 per cent.

    But new analysis from the Office for National Statistics shows that that figure was bolstered by 1.2 million foreign-born Christians, including Polish Catholics and evangelicals from countries such as Nigeria.

    They disclosed that there were in fact 5.3 million fewer British-born people describing themselves as Christians, a decline of 15 per cent in just a decade.

  10. Could Mr Pickles respond?

    Exactly what is it that councillors pray for at council meetings? Does it work? Is it value for tax payers money? Does it improve the decision making process of groups? Was it so important to preserve this particular waste of time? They could use the minutes they save in doing useful things like passing cups of tea and custard creams. This would be a worthwhile endeavour and you could actually produce a receipt for the tea and biscuits to show you have used the tax money wisely.

  11. Ah yes Eric Pickles, the Tory party’s very own sound bite for the middle class English telling us what he thinks they want to hear. This man is forever rattling off gimmicky policies which he thinks will appeal to the right wing rags like the daily nail and the torygraph. I suppose his definition of a militant atheist, is someone who does not agree that religion plays an important part in society which pretty much covers everyone on this site.

  12. According to Eurobarometer polls, only 38% of Britons believe in a god, so “we” outnumber “them”.

    Besides, can you imagine a government minister effectively stating that Britain is a Christian nation, so Muslims/Jews/Sikhs/Hindus should just “get over it”? And surviving?

    Which is effectively what he is saying.

  13. This fellow, Pickles, criticises others for imposing politically correct intolerance on people but he himself is imposing his intolerance on council meetings by forcing Christian prayers on people of different religions (Christian and non-Christian) attending these meetings. He claims that the country has an established Church. Does he mean an official religion? Does he intend to impose the official religion on other people? As far as I know, in a democracy there are citizens of different ideologies – whether political or religious – and he can’t order a plural society to follow a prayer of a particular religion. If people want to pray, particularly Pickels, they can attend religious services in the different temples available in the community.

  14. Even though it is a ludicrous concept because atheists do not behave in a militant manner by flying planes into buildings, throwing acid in the faces of uppity women etc. etc. , let’s look at the phrase “militant atheism” and compare it to say, oh I don’t know.. “militant toryism”. Does either mean anything more than someone having strong opinions and expressing them? Well perhaps, after all a militant tory can worm his fat arse (sorry, but Pickles is an invitation to childish ad hominid attacks) into a position of power and actually use the reins to shape the world to his views. Thank fuck they’re all too incompetent to actually make that work

  15. Do You know what pisses me off a lot at the moment? It’s ridiculous sportsmen, mostly footballers (soccer players to our USA chums) who are forever making political and religious gestures, fascist salutes, signs of the cross and most cringingly vomit inducing those muslims like Chelsea’s Mo Salah who drops to his knees and rams his head to the ground after scoring a goal! Now Salah looks like a nice guy he has a charmingly pleasant smile, but if he is thanking god for intervening in his favour he is no better than Lance Armstrong using drugs to gain an unfair advantage (I mean Salah obviously believes prayer and thanksgiving actually works!). OK, all goal celebrations these days are beyond silly, but should we be tolerating these open displays of exclusive religiosity at public events, I mean, couldn’t it be seen as inciting the crowd, obviously it inflames and offends me, but what the hell, I’m not going to demand his head because I’m only a “militant” atheist and I can get over it.

  16. Of all the objectionable aspect of these quotes there is one thing that I find most difficult to understand. Why, in a supposedly democratic society, would anybody who is of the opinion that the laws of the land/machinery of government could be changed for the better simply “get over it?”. As long as people who want any kind of societal change stick to lawful and democratic means of trying to bring about that change then have at it surely?

    • In reply to #24 by Bigtimedwarfer:

      Of all the objectionable aspect of these quotes there is one thing that I find most difficult to understand. Why, in a supposedly democratic society, would anybody who is of the opinion that the laws of the land/machinery of government could be changed for the better simply “get over it?”.

      Yes it does kind of miss the point of being a politician doesn’t it? After all what is the point of him if not the change the status quo? Or at the very lease give a reasonable defense of it?

      What strikes me about this other than him clearly not knowing what the words ‘politically correct intolerance’ actually mean, is the surrender of the part of our brains that actually define us as different to the other animals. If we are going to consider ourselves special then the only thing we can really point to is our exceptionally big brain compared to our body and the resulting ability to empathize and understand each others thinking (certainly I wouldn’t survive 5 mins in a cage with a hungry lion or an angry Chimp for that matter). To refuse to use this strikes me as a surrender to the more primitive instincts in us. If you don’t want to be thought of as an animal why act like one? Simplistic statements like this always strike me as animal. Personally I’m perfectly happy to be an animal, what pride I have in being specifically human comes from using the grey stuff between my ears as well as I can.

    • In reply to #24 by Bigtimedwarfer:

      … As long as people who want any kind of societal change stick to lawful and democratic means of trying to bring about that change then have at it surely?

      Hate to be picky, but that does not always work. Sharia law is a legal system in some places, science has not got on well with democracy. Take global warming, who is going to speak for future generations? or other species on this planet? Most politicians are only interested as far as winning the next election or their retirement.

      Just heard, Maria Miller has resigined, (9 April, about 7:30 GMT), wonder if she will keep the £40,000, what do you think?

      • I take your point, perhaps “peacefully” or “morally” would have been a better term than legally.

        I would say that science has a tendency to get on better in democracies than other types of society. I can’t see China or North Korea taking the lead on combating climate change. If we do overcome climate change as a species I suspect it will be democratic nations that lead the way. That is not to claim that democracy is perfect in all ways of course.

        In reply to #33 by old-toy-boy:

        In reply to #24 by Bigtimedwarfer:

        … As long as people who want any kind of societal change stick to lawful and democratic means of trying to bring about that change then have at it surely?

        Hate to be picky, but that does not always work. Sharia law is a legal system in some places, science has…

  17. What aspect of Christianity’s undue and undemocratic influence on our society does Pickles want us to “get over”? Our harassing of church goers at their home and place of worship? Our campaigns against Dawn French? The irritating insistence we have as atheists of existing and liking to talk?

    Or is it those other things he wants us to butt out of? The complaints about unelected representation in the House of Lords? Our insistence that we have a moral voice too.? That faith schools, too often, religiously instruct and not educate? That the RCC deflected harm from themselves to the detriment of abused children? That many of us think there should be no right of access to children as they assert and expect?

    This is not an attack on the culture of Christianity, Eric. This is an attack on its politics. Same laws for all. Same legal oversight. Same chance of influence in the public space.

  18. This story sounds like Pickles and the Conservative party are trying to distract attention from the Maria Miller expenses scandal, She said she apologised “unreservedly”, yet she is intending to keep the £40,000 which she was not entitled to.

    Pickles is just a pawn.

  19. CumbriaSmithy:

    ‘Speaking our minds’ has hitherto been considered a social right. So why is it felt necessary to impose a ban on people speaking their minds to the Almighty if they so choose?

    Personally, I’m not a great one for “rights”. Either you can do something or you can’t. In Britain there is no “right” to free speech, unlike the USA, but people can still more or less, let off steam in public without consequence. Frankly, I don’t give a toss if some west country Council wants to say prayers to start a meeting, nor their “right” to do so. OK, so they want to connect with the Almighty, – yawn, – next business !

    • In reply to #28 by Mr DArcy:

      Frankly, I don’t give a toss if some west country Council wants to say prayers to start a meeting, nor their “right” to do so. OK, so they want to connect with the Almighty, – yawn, – next business !

      In past years I have fallen out with a few useless councillors (not over prayers) who thought we should nod through multimillion-pound projects, because they “found finance boring” (being too thick and lazy to attempt to understand it) and because they had some tuppenny-halfpenny pet project which they wanted to take up a large part of the meeting time, expounding on it in graphic detail.

      I took the view that £2 million pound projects should take preference over £200 projects in timetabling, with proportionate time allocation. They resented their small-minded pet projects being pushed into a back seat!

      Their’s “is not a small issue in their view!” A £200 grant for free coffee at a drop-in centre is a major issue – for people who are too small minded to even show an interest in big issues – such as managing public services in a metropolitan area!

      Like Pickles, it was obvious that they did not do their homework researching information or reading reports which had been prepared for them, but blabbered whatever they thought would get support from some section of the public.

      In a democracy voters tend to get the politicians the majority deserve, although some of us try to provide better services than many deserve!
      When someone proposes some activity at a council meeting, they key question is: “What is being curtailed to make room for it on the agenda”!

      It was only a recent winter ago, that motorists were stranded in their vehicles, in blizzards on the moors, overnight, because “West Country Councils” had no effective plans to keep the main roads open! – unlike councils in the north which were successfully coping with similar problems.

      As we know, prayer is not a substitute for planning!

      • In reply to #34 by Alan4discussion:

        In reply to #28 by Mr DArcy:

        Frankly, I don’t give a toss if some west country Council wants to say prayers to start a meeting, nor their “right” to do so. OK, so they want to connect with the Almighty, – yawn, – next business !

        In past years I have fallen out with a few useless councillors (not o…

        Alan, I don’t know if you are aware that you have restated Parkinson’s ‘Law of Triviality’ which ‘briefly stated… means that the time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved’

        There follows a delightful mock committee meeting where a contract for a nuclear reactor is waved through in 2.5 minutes whilst the next item, a bicycle shed, is debated vigorously for three quarters of an hour. The cost of a sub-committee’s refreshments takes even longer but Parkinson notes that there must exist a ‘point of Vanishing Interest’ (research ongoing at race courses and methodist chapels). He then says ‘greater difficulty may be encountered in attempting to discover the exact point at which the sum involved becomes too large to discuss at all’.

        If you haven’t seen it I’m fairly sure you would find it amusing.

        [C. Northcote Parkinson (1959) 'Parkinson's Law', John Murray, London]

        • In reply to #38 by Geoff 21:

          There follows a delightful mock committee meeting where a contract for a nuclear reactor is waved through in 2.5 minutes whilst the next item, a bicycle shed, is debated vigorously for three quarters of an hour. The cost of a sub-committee’s refreshments takes even longer but Parkinson notes that there must exist a ‘point of Vanishing Interest’

          It happens all the time! Unfortunately I don’t need a mock version, having done work at such meetings for real!

          If you think “waving through” a nuclear reactor contract is a big issue, you might like to contemplate my 2007 resolution at a political meeting to debate the issues of the credit-crunch and the collapse of Northern Rock: – so as to pass the details to an MP who had connections to the cabinet and the treasury. One of the failed councillors decided to shove this off the agenda with an amendment asking the MP to, “Look into the issue later”.

          I refused to accept such an amendment and pointed out the need for urgent action, so it was put to the vote and nodded through in about a minute. Apparently the delegates “found finance boring”, so had decided to “liberate” lots of time to argue what they knew about – the membership, attendance, and infighting, at another committee which had met the previous week!

          The Monty Python crew produce some gems of political arguments with the “Liberation Fronts”, in “The Life of Brian”.

  20. No its not mr pickle…
    christianity may have been a forced hegemony in UK at one time…but celtic pagans also contributed to the genetic pool and mindset of Britons…and all manner of other cultures not particularly religious and more recently not only Christian but Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Atheist and many more….he’s reminiscing about pre 50′s pure prejudiced Britain…that’s an old fairy tale now…we have been modern multicultural Britain for 30 – 40 years at least…
    How wrong and out of touch can one guy really be and how obvious is his thought bias

  21. Those in the UK will no doubt be “delighted” to know that having demonstrated his “capabilities” over flooding and and Christianity, Pickles has now decided to take charge of green energy developments, to bring them into line with the demands of Tory newspapers, to demonstrate his anti-local localism doubletalk, and his “faith-fool” decision-making!

    Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has staged a minor coup over coalition energy policy. – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26978055

    Conservative newspapers have been demanding a cap on onshore wind farms, but the Lib Dems have refused to agree.

    So Mr Pickles has taken personal charge of wind farm applications for a further year, allowing him to block proposals for new turbines.

    In a six-month trial period he has so far accepted one proposed wind farm and rejected seven.

    A source at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), controlled by the Liberal Democrats, accused him of playing politics with energy policy to appease backbench MPs.

    But Mr Pickles said it was vital to give local people more say over wind farm applications.

    ‘Continuing concerns’

    RenewableUK, which speaks for the renewable energy industry, said one man was effectively in charge of all planning applications for wind farms in England.

    Deputy chief executive Maf Smith said: “Telling local authorities that they can’t decide on wind applications runs counter to the principles of the Localism Act, and introducing more delays is anti-business. The extension is a costly mistake for the UK.

    “I expect the official planning bodies for this country will be up in arms that the planning system is being subjugated to political whim in this way.”

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