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as much as I respect William Hague I can't agree with many of the sentiments in this article.
There is no place in politics for religion. Furthermore to say that it is religion/faith that will solve injustice is laughable, not to mention demeaning to anyone who does good work and happens to be an atheist. faith has created these "great injustices". for example, for two millenia the catholic church has sidelined women, they were labelled second class, in dogma women were created from man, after man. They are still forbidden from becoming priests etc.
and the Church of England is no better, until recently having the same policy.
The only lessons we should be taking from religion are those of what not to do, how not to treat people, 2000 years of christian trial and error in foreign, domestic, ethical, and moral policy has shown how stifling blind faith can be.

When religion is introduced to politics all that happens is progress becomes slows to a crawl, as shown by opposition to the HEF bill where we have the chance of a lifetime to progress medicine to vast heights, to make the UK a centre for biomedical research.

I don't doubt the good that has come from individuals seeing that slavery was reprehensable. However this is an enlightened age and we should have moved far beyond thanking god for helping us see that using other humans as little more than animals was wrong!

Let us not forget that the Religions and high Churches have let the people of this country down tremendously.
They will never be forgiven for this and therefore,they will never recover from it.
Shame on them all,and especially the Bishops.

To suggest that you need to be religious in order to solve problems like human trafficking is pretty insulting.

From my own experience, it is those who claim to be the most religious who are often the most immoral and bigoted.

Religion is the opium of the people and an excuse for their failures. Faith is a ridiculous superstition that comforts the minds of the weak-willed. Men and women must focus on reason as the basis for philosophy and their actions.

"Religion is the opium of the people and an excuse for their failures. Faith is a ridiculous superstition that comforts the minds of the weak-willed. Men and women must focus on reason as the basis for philosophy and their actions."

I thoroughly enjoyed Atlas Shrugged too but the idea that religion simply exists to comfort the weak willed is nonsense.

All right - name an athiest group that has anything like the record of the Clapham Sect.
It is true that religion attracts certain vices, such as dogmatism and intolerance - this applies also to secular religions such as Communism. But surely belief in a just and benevolent God, to whom we shall have to give an account, is not likely to have an adverse effect on anyone's behaviour.

Truth is, these days UK is essentially secular and any politicians who flash their religiosity or support for faith groups are viewed with a degree of suspicion and unease by anyone under 50. David Cameron would do well to take the same line as Peter Mandelson did when asked: "We don't do god".

We should look to reason not faith for our guidance.

Why are irrational people more able to fight injustice?

Tanuki is right.

asking to name an atheist group who do good works is the same as asking why purple isn't a kettle.

just because a group is not overtly atheist does not automatically mean that the group is a religious one. There are many secular organisations who do extremely good work, marie curie cancer care are one.

Plus I think saying "we don't do god" is a get out. it's about time we had political leaders who can fight against religions use of flawed statistics and bad science. We need people who are willing to stick their necks above the parapet and say that religion is wrong and has no place in our legislature or executive.
I know it's trite and a cliché but it's true, religion has killed more people than anything else. It is tearing apart the middle east, our freedoms are threatened by religious fundamentalists and those not just muslim but also christian.
one only needs to look at how much damage is being done to the supposedly secular USA by vast tracts of people trying to con children into believing that Intelligent Design is a valid viewpoint. Or in Africa where the Catholic church is accelerating the spread of HIV/AIDs by preaching against safe sex.

I don't mind religions that keep themselves to themselves, Hinduism, and Buddhism are peaceful, often scholarly religions that preach and practice peace. and whilst I may think that it's still a crutch, they are in no way as dangerous as the Abrahamic faith. Hell even Richard Dawkins hasn't picked a fight with Buddhism, as he says in "The God Delusion" it's more of a state of mind.

It's time for us to state loud and clear that we want a secular liberal democracy. Only those who are firm and consistent have the right to criticise Islamism, because we are against all such reactionary rubbish.

Im afraid I disagree with William Hague here. I choose not to believe. It doesnt mean I cannot act on injustice as not believing doesnt remove your judgement of social ills for example. It just means that we choose not to believe in organised religion which tells us that there is a set way things are and that we must conform.

Then again, if Hell does indeed exist, Im surely going there...

Let's not over-interpret William Hague's remarks. He's not saying that you have to be religious to be concerned about injustice but he is inviting people of faith into a public square that is often hostile to them.

My own view is that people of faith do make a disproportionate contribution to public life. Whether you look at faith schools or the most effective poverty-fighting organisations there is something special about faith.

I'd also recommend Arthur Brooks' Who Really Cares?; a study of American philanthropy that shows how Christians and conservatives are consistently more civic-minded than secularists and liberals.

Most contributors appear to take it for granted that God does not exist. Just suppose they turn out to be wrong?

Wow. I am absolutely amazed at the bile and hatred expressed toward religion and/or religious people on this comments page!

I lived in England for 27 years, then moved to the USA. I used to hold many of the same views that many have posted already on this site, but seeing a real Christian life lived out by true Christians was something that I really wasn't prepared for!

I was baptized in March 2007, and am much the better for it; not out of a belief that "I believe in God, therefore I'm better than you who don't". This statement is contrary to the heart of a true Christian.

I thoroughly agree that much wrong has been done in the name of religion and in certain denominations (Catholicism being the major culprit), but to dismiss all those who subscribe to a belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and his Lordship over the earth is a grossly ungrounded argument to make.

I am more than aware that many who follow this posting will accuse me of being tiny brained and 'weak' and in need of a crutch; to those people I say open your mind and study even just a few books on the subject without writing off the whole enterprise. Christianity is not a religion where the brain is switched off; in contradistinction it is one where we are called to love the Lord our God with all your heart, all your strength, all your soul and all your mind. I don't consider myself the most intellectual man to walk the man, but I do hold a Bachelor's degree in English and a Master's degree, and it was not without a tremondous fight and intense study before I accepted the inevitable conclusion; that there is a God, and we are not Him.

Again, for those who are willing to search for the truth, on an individual basis not on a national basis, there are several very well writen works that discuss many evidences for Christianity. The most useful, entry-level book is Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ. Written by a former athiest, it documents the writer's attempt to absolutely discredit his wife's conversion to Christ. Angered by her decision, he sets out to prove her 'wrong', and goes on a two year investigation in which he interviews several prominent academics, scholars and others. Somewhere along the way, the evidence for Christ overwhelmed him and he came joyfully to Christ.

I do agree that there should be a seperation of Church and State; Bush and Blair declaring war on Iraq, and both with 'strong Christian beliefs', just gives ammo to folks like those posting above plenty of (correct) ammunition to assasinate anyone with a Christia viewpoint.

I pray that people reading this may set their bigotry aside for a moment and honestly search out and work out realistically your opposition to faith. A closing observation: The strength of the negative comments about religion and religious people as bigoted, opinionated and utterly intolerable of others seems to be a little bit of pot calling the kettle black, hmm?

I believe that individual religious belief is a private thing and I have always felt rather uncomfortable at the prominence given to it in American public life! That said, I think what William is talking about here is religion in the sense of a community pulling together to help those less fortunate. I have no doubt there are many estimable atheists who believe in doing good to their fellow man, but by and large it is those who believe in a Supreme Being who have the most consistent record in doing good works.

If Christ's teachings give people the energy and motivation to help their fellow man, hopefully because they see in every human being a reflection of God himself, then that is a good thing. If I'm in need I'll take help, love and a helping hand from anyone who offers it. That's not to say that atheists cannot be equally as motivated to help their fellow man. I know many atheists who make me feel ashamed at my relative inactivity when it comes to helping their fellow man. And of course we have the so-called religious people who have more evil in them than atheists, and whose motives are therefore suspect. My vote therefore goes to those who give there all without seeking any return, whether they be religious or not. And I feel sure that atheists who offer genuine help and love to their fellow human beings must surely be seen by believers as just as worthy as them. I would completely reject dogmatic Christian or Muslim attitudes. I judge people by what they do, not by what they say. But let's not knock the genuinely religious who help others for pure reasons. I for one will take that help any day of the week.

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