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Friday, 13 June 2008

Back to the Dark Ages

Gordon Brown is promising religious leaders he'll incorporate their wish list into his next manifesto.

Acording to the UK's Daily Telegraph, his move comes after a study showed that the government doesn't understand religious groups – or "faith groups", as it calls them.

"Labour says the responses it receives will then be fed into its manifesto ahead of the next general election, which must take place within the next two years, to show how much it values the opinions of the faithful," says the Telegraph. Gawdelpus!

There may be sensible ideas from "the faithful" (as there are from all groups), but how long will it be before we step back into the Dark Ages with religions permitted an unfair influence on what we are allowed to do, and even to think? We've seen already how some bemoan the passing of the blasphemy laws, and wish to see measures to protect religious sensitivities.

The paper goes on:

Mr Brown said at a Downing Street reception to launch the Labour, Faith and Faithworks taskforce: "What we are celebrating is the tremendous contribution that faith groups make to our community.

"There's nothing wrong with Britain which couldn't be solved by what's right about Britain."

Stephen Timms, the Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform who is working on the taskforce, said afterwards that the consultation would lead directly to policies in Labour's manifesto, and that religious issues could be key at the next election.

Timms wouldn't say whether New Labour would adopt policies from religious groups to which it has previously been opposed, such as tighter abortion rules and more Islamic law imposed upon British citizens.

Given that politicians will appear to have listened if what is suggested accords with their own wishes, and will not listen if what is suggested doesn't, it may just be a case of as you were. But how much taxpayers' money is being spent on this and that group set up to monitor what the worlds of superstition think?

If these groups wish to input sensible ideas on policy in areas they have concerns about, then by all means let them have the same degree of government ear as everyone else. All groups should have an equal hearing. But why have special initiatives just to cater to the superstitious?

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