Lord Maxton & Morgan & Baroness Flather ‘challenging religious faith’ (Atheism UK strapline). For 150 minutes on 25th July 2013 the House of Lords debated, in 20,000 words, how atheists and humanists had made contributions to British society.
At 3.04pm Lord Maxton, an ‘anti-clerical atheist’, said he did not believe that churches and religion have been good for the world. Churches used to hang people in this country because they did not go to church and for many years bishops in the Lords voted to retain capital punishment.
Today, Lord Maxton said that there are still religious riots in Belfast. Glasgow is divided between two different Christian churches. Democracy throughout the Islamic world is not developing properly because of religion.
Although he said he couldn’t make a direct correlation, Lord Maxton thought that society seems to have improved as religion declined; Sweden, Denmark and Canada have the lowest number of people who believe in religion and these countries have the lowest crime rates, lowest levels of infant mortality, the best education systems and the best social security systems whilst in the USA, the states with the lowest crime rates and the best systems of education are those which are least religious. Read Lord Maxtons’ full speech or watch him at 15:04:26.
At 3.11pm Lord Morgan, said that the church had a virtual monopoly of civil and social power in the early 19th century in Britain. It give way on issue after issue, such as admission to universities and religious rites. It retreated in its views on science, coming to accept evolution, and on social issues such as property rights and industrial relations. Recently, it has retreated in its views on moral attitudes to gay marriage. Read Lord Morgans’ full speech or watch him at 15:11:07
At 3.18pm Baroness Flather said she was an atheist but not a humanist. Without religion we would not have had 9/11, 7/7 or a young soldier beheaded in London. Without religion we would not have had the Crusades and the problems between Christians and Muslims. We would not have had the conflict in Northern Ireland, the Spanish Inquisition or witch hunts. ‘There are so many things about religion historically that are amazingly awful’ said Baroness Flather.
‘How has religion treated women through the centuries, and how is it still treating women?’. We have honour killings, women being beaten and mutilation. The Catholic church in Africa says that it is a sin to have family planning or abortion. ‘No religion has supported women through the ages’. Mother Teresa stocked up for her sainthood campaigning constantly against family planning. Read Baroness Blathers’ full speech or watch her at 15:18:31.
Read my 2nd AtheismUK post on this debate with speeches by Baroness Warnock, Lord Soley, Lord Warner and Baroness Blaisdon.
1) House of Lords video from 2.12pm to 4.40pm: Contributions of Atheists and Humanists to Society (from 14.12 hours).
2) Hansard transcription: Hansard: Contributions of Humanists & Atheists to British Society (from 2.12pm to 4.40pm).
3) I blogged the debate for HASSNERS with atheist contributions (in red): HASSNERS reviews the debate in the House of Lords on the contributions to society of atheists and humanists.