It must be quite hard for the folks who live in Iran when you consider what they have to put up with. You do of course appreciate that they have special reserved places in their parliament for unelected religious clerics, who then get an automatic say in writing the laws the country’s citizens must obey? Think about it now, these are folks whose sole qualification for such a position is that they have an imaginary friend they truly believe to be real, it truly is not a great approach for running a country.
So has any other nation adopted this utterly insane and completely undemocratic form of religious dictatorship, or is Iran unique in this respect?
There is one other nation that does exactly the same … and that nation is the UK.
Johann Hari just blogged about it here …
In 2011, the laws that bind all Brits are voted on by 26 Protestant bishops in the House of Lords who say they are there to represent the Will of God. They certainly aren’t there to represent the will of the people: 74 per cent of us told a recent ICM poll the bishops should have to stand for election like everybody else if they want to be in parliament. These men use their power to relentlessly fight against equality for women and gay people, and to deny you the right to choose a peaceful and dignified death when the time comes.
And here’s the strangest kicker in this strange story: it looks like the plans being drawn up by the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, now Deputy Prime Minister in coalition with Conservative David Cameron, to “modernise” the House of Lords will not listen to the overwhelming majority of us and end these religious privileges. No – they are poised to do the opposite. Sources close to the reform team say they are going to add even more unelected religious figures to parliament. These plans are being drawn up as you read this and will be published soon. The time to fight is today, while we can still sway the agenda.
What of course is interesting is why this all came about. It was Henry VIII who needed political support for the establishment of his Church so that he could get his divorce, and this was all part of the deal to get their backing. He got the political clout needed, and they got a slice of this political pie, so the “will of God” had diddly squat to do with it.
As for what happend next, well as you might expect it has been a disaster from the start, as observed by Johann …
you’ll find they opposed almost all of the progressive changes in our history. The Suffragettes regarded them as such relentless enemies of equality for women they set fire to two of their churches. In 1965, the then-Archbishop of Canterbury scorned the people who were campaigning for nuclear-armed countries to step back from the brink, on the grounds that “a nuclear war would involve nothing more than the transition of many millions of people into the love of God, only a few years before they were going to find it anyway”. In 2008, his successor, Rowan Williams, said it would be helpful if shariah law – with all its vicious misogyny, which says that women are worth half of a man – was integrated into British family courts.
In other words their claim that they are there to represent the interests of the poor, is not backed by the facts, and as further proof, the atheists and secularists who are campaigning for democracy are consistently branded “arrogant” by the bishops.
So what do we do now that Nick Clegg wants to increase the number of unelected religious loons?
Nick Clegg needs to be pressured, fast. He has spent the last nine months shedding every principle he ever espoused. Is he now even going to abandon his atheism, and give the forces of organised religion yet more power over us? Mr Clegg, in the name of the God you and I don’t believe in – step back from the bishops.