The British Humanist Association (BHA) has reacted to the remarks of the Pope in Westminster Hall.
Andrew Copson, BHA Chief Executive, said, ‘To the extent that the Pope was voicing sentiments that would be shared by all people of good will – such as the imperative to advance the common good or the benefits of democracy, dialogue and respect – one cannot but welcome them; nor would many people disagree that politics should be suffused with an ethical dimension.
‘But although the Pope’s remarks were delivered in a measured manner, this concealed the extreme implications of some of his other ideas.
‘The idea that a reasonable politics cannot take place without “the corrective supplied by religion” is to argue for a privileging of religious views over equally strongly-held non-religious ethical beliefs that is not acceptable in a free society.
‘The idea that religious people should always expect their conscience to trump the rights of others or that religious organisations should be free to follow their religion whatever the effects on other people, is equally unacceptable when the effect of such freedoms is to so seriously undermine the rights of others.
‘The Pope’s statements concerning the alleged “increasing marginalisation of religion” were a parody of the real situation in the UK, where politicians increasingly move to expand state-funded religious schools, contract public services out to religious organisations, and act in other ways that privilege religious beliefs and organisations in such a disproportionate and discriminatory manner.’
The British Humanist Association is the national charity representing and supporting the interests of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.