|Pope Benedict XVI: "Listen up, Nazi atheists!|
What constitutes a row? His Holiness gave the UK an absolutely sensible warning not to allow extreme atheism to destroy the Christian foundations of society and to beware the 20th century's massive death toll motivated by godless ideologies.
Hitler may have been once a 'good Catholic boy' and Stalin may have tried it out in a seminary, but we can be sure that by the time they were in power thinking up a final solution for the Jews and making 5-year gulag plans for peasant farmers, that their outlook was decidely atheistic. Yet, it appears that the Holy Father cannot even condemn Nazism, something which we should really be able to all rally around and say, "He's spot on there," without criticism.
In his address, the Pope spoke of "a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society". Continuing...
"As we reflect on the sobering lessons of atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus a reductive vision of a person and his destiny."
Can you really row with this?! What is there to argue with!? The Nazis simply did not 'do' God! Neither did the Bolsheviks! Well, the 'row' comes in the form of one comment made on one website by one organisation, but, unfortunately the BBC appears to act as the national spokesperson for this organisation. It's called the British Humanist Association, but, then, if the BBC aren't promoting their opinions then they're promoting the views of the National Secular Society.
A statement from the British Humanist Association said the Pope's remarks were "surreal". It said: "The notion that it was the atheism of Nazis that led to their extremist and hateful views or that it somehow fuels intolerance in Britain today is a terrible libel against those who do not believe in God. The notion that it is non-religious people in the UK today who want to force their views on others, coming from a man whose organisation exerts itself internationally to impose its narrow and exclusive form of morality and undermine the human rights of women, children, gay people and many others, is surreal."
Media speak is often confusing. If 100 people lose their jobs in Northampton, they've been 'axed'. If the National Secular Society make a statement disagreeing with the Pope's assertions concerning atheism and tyranny, then its a 'row'.
While this is, to all extents a very secular culture we have in the UK, how many people are actually members of the National Secular Society or the British Humanist Association? How many members do they have, say, worldwide? Why does the opinion of this small group of men and women led by Polly Toynbee and Richard Dawkins get so much media attention? Of course, we're all for freedom of opinion and all, but it has to be said that the opinions of the BHA and the NSS are given a disproportionate amount of media attention compared to their rather small size, international status, membership and popularity.
Their presentation of this 'row' caused by the Holy Father's Holyrood speech gives me the distinct feeling that if the head of the National Secular Society farted, the BBC would want to listen and give coverage to it, but it isn't just them. The Telegraph carries their opinions too...
Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, added: “The secular identity of the British people is not something to criticise, but to celebrate. We have rejected dogmatic religion devoid of compassion.”
The secular identity of the British people? How many people actually say, 'I'm a secularist'? A lot of people may have read The God Delusion...but how many people would actually turn out to see the atheists' pope in a large field?