Friday 25 December 2015

The world needs humanitarian values

British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has been widely criticised for describing Britain as a country with Christian values.

Writing in today’s Independent, Harry Farley, a reporter for ‘Christian Today’, outlined what needs to change for our current Tory government to truly reflect the teachings of Jesus Christ:
1. Many Tory MPs describe the poor as undeserving, selfish and largely to blame for their predicament, asserts Mr Farley. He concluded, “Whatever you think about how to solve poverty, if Cameron wants a more Christian nation he needs to change the way he talks about the poor.”
2. Jesus welcomed foreigners and strangers. “By contrast,” points out Mr Farley, “Cameron has treated refugees and migrants with suspicion. Eventually he reluctantly agreed to accept 20,000 by 2020. That is less than Germany accepted in one month.”
3. Jesus didn't say, “Blessed are the war mongers.” He taught the opposite. As Mr Farley reminds us in his article, “In Cameron’s Christmas message he referred to Jesus as the “prince of peace” and urged us to remember, ‘as a Christian country,’ Christ’s birth represents peace. Which is ironic. Because Britain is making billions of pounds every year out of war.” 
Harry Farley concluded, “The arms trade fair in London this autumn brought some of the worst regimes in the world together to discover more exciting ways to kill people. And guess who was there to welcome them? That’s right. Cameron’s government.

“So in all honesty I am not sure what kind of Britain Cameron wants. But it is certainly not a Christian one. And he needs to stop pretending it is.”

I wholeheartedly agree with Harry Farley. 

Except that, whilst true Christian values are something to aspire to, I don’t believe that you need to be a Christian to do so. Neither is it necessary to believe in God to be good; indeed, many who proclaim to believe in God have committed terrible crimes against humanity.

Fortunately, most of the ancient religious texts do teach goodness and forgiveness, and we can all look to them for guidance if we wish. Most people of religion choose to be peaceful and compassionate, even though there are religious texts that can be and are interpreted differently by some.

But in my view we don't need ancient texts to demonstrate that goodwill to fellow humans is the healthiest and happiest way for individuals and societies to live together.

At school I got into trouble when I campaigned for all religions to be taught instead of only Christianity. Telling us about just one religion seemed profoundly arrogant to me, when a knowledge of all religions and beliefs could help us to understand and better appreciate the people with whom we share our planet. 

As a humanist I try to make sense of the world using reason, experience and shared human values. I prefer to appeal to universal human qualities, particularly rationality, without resorting to the supernatural or alleged divine authority from religious texts.

Of course I respect religions and those of faith. I just don’t think we need one or another or none as the only way to promote and practice what are, essentially, humanitarian values.

I wish all my readers, of whatever faith or persuasion, a Happy Christmas holiday, peace and goodwill.


Related articles by Jon Danzig:


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Posted by Jon Danzig on Friday, 25 December 2015

1 comment:

  1. As a fellow Humanist I wholeheartedly agree with your article.


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