Friday, 24 September 2010

The troubling authoritarianism of the No-Popers

The saintly Brendan O'Neill has fired another delicious salvo against the Nope Pope brigade -- this time landing wtih surgical precision on the deeply illiberal mindset which lurks within it. O'Neill, Monitor readers will not need reminding, is editor of the humanist magazine Spiked, and while disagreeing with the Pope, is deeply troubled by the totalitarian impulses of many of the secularists -- not least Terry Sanderson of the National Secular Society who called on the Pope to "get out" of Britain. Says O'Neill:

It was extraordinary stuff. Consider what is being said: that because the pope’s views run counter to the British state’s views, he has to leave the country. Because he does not support gay rights or women’s equality, he must go home. Partly this is a creepy echo of the old prejudice about Catholics not being sufficiently loyal to the state - but more fundamentally, it speaks to a serious warping of the liberal humanist outlook. If you had to distil the profound, historic tradition of liberal humanism into one principle, it would surely be that no one should be persecuted for having views that are the opposite of the state’s or of mainstream political thought. Yet here was a gathering of so-called humanists clamouring for the expulsion of the pope on the basis that he does not accept ‘British values’, as the QC Geoffrey Robertson described them on Saturday.
 But no snip can do it justice. Enjoy the whole.