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Thursday, 28 August 2008

The cost of religion (whether we want it or not)

How much money do you think would be saved for the public purse if religion were to disappear from the face of the planet? Quite a bit, probably.

Not only do we have government servants and bits of government departments devoted to our nation's relationship with the superstitious by its insistence on having an "established" church, and not only are religious organisations able to dodge taxes by qualifying for charitable status, just for being religious organisations, but public bodies feel they have to have special training lest they tread on the toes of the deluded.

The latest nonsense culminates in a forum in Leicester today, which the This Is Derbyshire website tells us is being organised by East Midlands Ambulance Service "to address the issues surrounding religious beliefs and medical care".

Last time I looked, we were all pretty much the same. In most cases, two of everything down the outside and one of everything down the middle. The story continues:

Members of different faiths have been invited to the first NHS Religion and Belief Summit to take part in a debate and watch life-saving demonstrations.

A spokesman for the service said faith could influence the emergency care that patients receive.

He said: "For example, male paramedics treating female patients may cause anxiety for some, or paramedics entering places of worship with their shoes on may cause offence."

"Just keep choking in that smoke-filled room, mate. Be with you as soon as I can get out of these shoes. God! These Gucci high-heeled wellies are a bugger to get off [puff! pant!], especially when I've got these thick socks on. Be with you in a mo. Don't die yet. Are these socks OK? I mean, they won't offend, will they? They're a bit sweaty."

I'm reminded of an earlier story we carried about how police dogs may have to wear little bootees before entering a place where Muslims might be offended – because dogs are considered haram by Muslims – no matter what the emergency, presumably. Woe betide the poor cop who uses common sense and puts life or prevention of crime before religion and decides there's no time to fit Fido's fancy footwear. He'll be hauled up before a committee of this or that and made to answer for "offending Muslims". Perhaps he'll think losing the trail is the better option in today's PC age.

"Control, this is Papa Charlie Nine. Suspect seen dashing into a mosque. Will pursue as soon as dog's bootees are in position. Over."

"Control to Papa Charlie Nine. If it's a mosque, you'll need bootees on the dog but no footware on you. Are your socks clean? Over."

"Roger that, control. Oh, bugger! He's disappeared into that synagogue over the road now. Where did I put the yarmulkes?"

"Control to Papa Charlie Nine. You can't put a yarmulke on the dog. That would be silly. Over."

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