It seems that if you scratch an atheist deeply enough, all too often you’ll discover an individual who really doesn’t have much regard for the basic concept of democracy:
I am now officially fed up with this public bending-over-backwards to be respectful and sincere towards superstitionists of every stripe, to the point that religion trumps freedom of speech, as this case demonstrates so clearly. And the religious still aren’t satisfied — they’re out for more. I see no distinction between Christianity, Islam, and Scientology, in this respect: if you give them an inch they’ll try and take a mile, as witness the ambush vote on lowering the age limit for abortion that the god botherers have tacked onto the current embryology bill.
We need to kick the bishops out of the House of Lords, ban the Police and judiciary from taking donations from religious organizations, and get religion out of politics by any means necessary.
First, let me say that I completely agree with Charles Stross that the idea of prosecuting someone for calling Scientology a “cult” is wildly absurd. I think it would be similarly absurd to prosecute Richard Dawkins for calling Christianity any of the many perjorative terms he has directed in its direction, although it might be amusing to do so if this prosecution of a teenage anti-Scientologist turns out to be successful.
Where I depart from Stross is that I do not see this totalitarian absurdity as the result of religious influence, but rather as an entirely predictable result of Britain’s post-Christianity. If I am correct, then we should see such abuses of government power continue to get worse as the influence of traditional Western Christianity declines. I very much suspect that like Sam Harris, Charles Stross is in the awkward position of advocating that which will ultimately bring about precisely what he claims to fear. After all, getting “religion out of politics by any means necessary” has been tried many times before… and it has never succeeded even when the blood of millions has been shed. Ultimately, the separation of religion and politics is not possible so long as you permit any vestige of democracy or allow the people to have any voice in their government. This is but one of the many logical conundrums facing those self-proclaimed “rationalists” that Onfray describes more accurately as Christian atheists.
By the way, if you happen to go over there and comment, be respectful. Mr. Stross isn’t exactly what you’d call terribly fond of me, but I am a fan of him and his work nonetheless.
UPDATE – Mr. Stross has closed the comments. Please don’t mistake this for censorship, as he’s quite clear on how his blog is primarily intended to be a soapbox for him, not a forum for general discussion. You can, of course, argue away to your heart’s content here, if you so desire.