Should we vote for the State religion?

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I have recently had an idea about State religion. At the moment certain countries have a State religion, and the people who believe in that religion benefit in certain ways. For example, England is officially a Christian country and so schools are legally obliged to stage a daily act of collective worship, and the majority of these acts are required to be “wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character”. In addition, there are 26 bishops who automatically receive a place in the House of Lords.

My idea is that people are allowed to vote for the State religion, rather than have one imposed on them by tradition. In the same way that political parties campaign for support, so each religion could say why people should elect them. The elected religion would then get the various benefits, including, in England’s case, the majority of school prayers and the 26 representatives in the Lords. Obviously, there would also be a ‘none’ option, and, if this received the majority vote, there would be no State religion. The winning religion (or ‘none’) would get four years in office.

What do you think? Do you find the idea interesting? Obviously the powers of the State religion would have to be limited, and people would be free to believe whatever they wanted (in the same way people can still support one political party even when another is in power). Do you have the right to demand a secular country if the majority of people are against it? What coalitions might be formed? Comment and vote now!

105 comments on “Should we vote for the State religion?

  1. CH23 says:

    The state should be free from ANY religion, even atheism. Completely neutral.

    • Chris Emerson says:

      Are you aware Atheism isn’t a religion?

    • ladymac says:

      atheism is not a religion-it is the antitesis of such, i.e no belief in gods, pointy-eared demons, leprechauhns and other fictional. absurdities-suggest you look up definitions of religion,atheism et. I, personally am a secular humanist. there are several types of non-religious types, If you don’t like my opinion get better informed.,Pleasw excuse tersw bad typing=one hand broken.
      only fair answer to ? Richard is none. If You doudt ,rememember who started crusades,inquisition, witch burnings,etc.- not unbelievewrs!!!!!!!

    • Jimbo says:

      Some people think that atheism is the belief that there are no gods. If you mean to say that the state should not be of the opinion that there are no gods (unless it has the evidence to support that opinion) then I agree.

    • Richard says:

      Evidence to support the assertion that “there are no gods” is a logical impossibility.

    • Richard says:

      Oops, pressed send a bit early. Meant to add: equally it is impossible to prove that “there are no unicorns”, “there is no Father Christmas”, and so on.

    • SimonP says:

      Atheism comes in strong & weak forms. The strong form says “There is no God”, the weak form “I know of no reason to believe there is a God”. Take your pick.

      Atheism is clearly not a religion as it makes no metaphysical claims at all, has no moral agenda or social institutions (unless one counts this blog!).

    • Cymon says:

      Haha. I love watching people get up in arms when Atheism is called a religion. Atheists don’t like being lumped with Religionists, Religionsists don’t like Atheists at their parties. It’s great.

      Semantically we could get around this by using “Belief System” instead of “religion”. Atheism lacks many things fundamental to a religion, not the least of which being an organization and an organized creed making it difficult to be represented in government. So for the purposes of this discussion it may not be feasible to reword the ballot so that “Atheism” and “none” could both be options.

      That said there are also very many very religion-like aspects to Atheism, not the least of which is the willingness of their devotees to proselytize. They’re more in your face than the Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons combined. But again it’s not coming from any organized effort so it doesn’t “count”. Also if Alain de Botton gets his way there will be buildings dedicated to Atheistic worship… er, I mean meditations. With a building dedicated to this non-religion it may be, in the legal eyes of the state, organized. Then what? It seems to me that proposed Atheists like Alain de Botton’s want a to make a religion out of Atheism. I don’t know, just stating how I see it here.

    • Martin says:

      The popular Atheists’ front? Splitters!

    • Pseudonym says:

      I wish we had multiple levels of reply here. Stuff mentioned in this subthread so far:

      1. No, atheism is not a religion.

      2. Atheism is not the “antithesis” of religion. “Anti” means “against”, where “a” (alpha privative in Greek) just means “not”. If anything, atheism is the “athesis” of religion”. But even that isn’t entirely accurate, since “theism” and “religion” aren’t synonyms.

      On one hand, there are atheistic religions or religions where theism is not fundamental, such as Confucianism, some forms of Buddhism, Unitarian Universalism and so on. On the other hand, there are plenty non-religious theists (think “spiritual but not religious”). In fact, they’re arguably in the majority; the largest and fastest-growing religious group in the English-speaking world are people who self-identify as some kind of Christian but who do not regularly attend a place of worship.

      3. Similarly, the claim that creed and organization are somehow “fundamental” to religion is untrue on the face of it. Quakers and Baptists do not, for example, have creeds. (The Southern Baptist Convention in the US is a notable exception, but they’re probably not technically Baptist.) Wiccans have no organization.

      4. If you get to bring up the crusades, the inquisition and so on, theists get to bring up Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. Before you reply, be aware the theists who will point this out know the objection you’re about to make and do not find it persuasive. Jesus, you may recall, was a dirty hippie who didn’t teach people to kill other people.

      One thing I’d like to point out is that with great power comes great responsibility. Perhaps rather than vote, we should let religions take it in turns, but put severe restrictions on what they can do politically during that time. I suspect that many religions would not take kindly to having their hands tied.

    • ladymac says:

      I want to apologize for expressing my opinion in a disrespecful way.never done that online or basically anywhere before-hope this is right way to reply.soorry all & richard-disabled walking a lot and broke hand-not excuse cept not in better state to reply in 1st place-tired of years of insults by reglious people when i was tolerant-this noone here’s fault. sorry can’ t really type with new painful cast but have felt bad about former message. very sorry for offending anyone.please accept sincere apolgy.

  2. wraakh says:

    Amusing… it would undoubtedly scare the shit out of most religious people.

    • Cymon says:

      It scares me as a religious person and I have no idea why. I guess it’s “what if they pick the wrong ONE” but that shouldn’t matter. They wouldn’t be able to do anything more than broad strokes anyways and in broad strokes most religions are pretty much the same.

      So why does this idea annoy me?

    • Martin says:

      Doesn’t it scare you that YOU might have picked the wrong one?

    • One Eyed Jack says:

      +1 Martin.

      I am also amused that most religious people will assert that their religion is the “true” one, yet 99% of them were born into that religion. The reason they are of that religion is that they were indoctrinated into it at an early age. They will, of course, assert this is not true, but then why do so few people ever leave the religion of their parents?

      It’s amazing that salvation is hereditary.

    • Martin says:

      I love to use Mr Dawkins argument: What if YOU are wrong about YOUR religion? There are hundreds of religions that you don’t believe in. In fact you don’t believe in almost as many religions as me. I just don’t believe in one more.

      Actually, if one of those religions is right, would you be judged more harshly for picking the wrong one, or not picking one at all? And what are the chances of being born into the right one? Or even that the right one is still alive and kicking?

    • Martin, I worry constantly that I have picked the wrong one. I worry because I was born into this one and the odds of being born into the right one is one in hundreds as you point out. And I think that any one who asserts their religion is right to the exclusion of all else had better have a pretty compelling argument about why that is the case. Fortunately I do and I have a way of checking.

      Funny enough many Christian religions actually don’t assert that they are the only truth to the exclusion of all else. Many accept that any religion will get you to heaven. They accept the baptism of any almost any other Christian religion.

    • Berber Anna says:

      Well yeah, but that kind of makes sense, as they all believe in the same god eventually, they just disagree on how to worship him. But what if the right one is the Jewish or Muslim version of the Abrahamic god, or maybe the Asatru pantheon or the Roman one, or the Hindu one-in-many god? Or one or more of the Assyrian gods?

      I mean, the Christian religions are only a tiny part of the religious spectrum, really — humans worship and have worshipped many more gods. How do you know that Christianity is the way to go?

    • Richard's Dorkings says:

      ” How do you know that Christianity is the way to go?”
      How do you know atheism is the way to go?
      Act of faith, I guess.

  3. I am an opponent to any state religion in general, however, if there must be one, I agree with you that voting would be a better option than tradition. Seeing as (most) governments seem to take issue with changing to suit the times, it would likely help in a many situations. Either way, it’s something to ponder.

  4. David D says:

    Religion does not deserve any influence in the state. Just look at its history. A truely secular country is the right approach as it is fair for all. Despite the recent hysterical press, it is still a long way away.

  5. Mike Torr says:

    I was about to say that this is a bad idea because of the danger of electing a religion that would abuse the privilege… and then I thought “Oh wait, governments already do that anyway.”

  6. Dettifoss Bergmann says:

    Imposing a religion on people is a violation of their basic human rights. Voting on human rights is highly problematic and immoral at best.

  7. Atle says:

    How is it any better that the majority rather than tradition decide what religion the minority should be forced to deal with? I would guess that the majority follow the tradition in most countries anyway. They are both violations of the human rights.

  8. Tim Dean says:

    Not fond of the idea:

    Firstly, I rather suspect people would vote along their existing religious/cultural lines instead of shopping around and voting for the religion that best suited their tastes. As such, the democratic process would be ill suited to voting for a state religion, much in the same way tribalism conflicts with democracy when everyone only votes for delegates from their own parochial tribe.

    Secondly, we already ‘vote’ for our state religion, in a way. Britain could change its state religion through the parliament if there was sufficient will to do so – such as if a clear majority of the population were atheist and sufficiently agitated – then they could move to have the state religion changed.

    Thirdly, many religions preach intolerance. Making one of them the state religion could threaten freedom of expression and freedom of belief for others.

    Fourthly, no matter what else you believe, it pays to be secular. Being secular means protection of your ability to believe and say what you wish (within defined reasonable bounds) and allows a dialogue to exist in the public space rather than stifling expression. If the state should support anything, it should be secularism, and it should restrict itself to enabling the religious dialogue to exist peacefully.

    Fifthly, if people want to practice their religious traditions, and those traditions don’t harm others’ ability to practice theirs (or practice no religious traditions), then good on them. If the state is giving bishops a seat in the government purely by virtue of them being bishops, that ought to concern everyone, even the bishops. After all, if the state has the power to do that, it also has the power to give other religions a seat and take them away from the bishops. Better the state doesn’t give any religion privilege.

  9. Damon says:

    Political parties actually exist. I don’t mind voting for them.

    The factual statements (like there being a god) of theistic religions, can not be proven to exist. If you make decisions based upon unknowns, you get random outcomes as opposed to informed, desired outcomes. This means people will needlessly be hurt and/or killed.

    This is why we must not practice unsafe medicines, believe in random unprovable deities, believe in big foot or the tokolosh or get all Feng-y with our Shui. There is harm.

    In short, state sanctioned delusion does not appeal.

  10. Geoff says:

    No way, we’d all end up Muslim!

  11. Gib says:

    Excellent idea! The Christians would be so scared that the UK would end up Muslim that they’d be leading the charge for the government to become totally secular!!!

  12. JimC says:

    In practice this idea would be entirely unworkable, but purely as a thought experiment, I rather like it. At present, little would change as there is a massive majority for the C of E, but that could shift over time as the numbers of atheist/agnostic people increases (JimC’s First Law of Sociology – Atheism always increases).

    It would be particularly interesting in a situation where the humanists hold the balance of power, and what concessions the other faiths might be willing to make. I could almost see it as a useful stage in the transition to full secularism.

    Of course, that assumes that faith is a rational process, which it isn’t.

    • Martin says:

      Massive majority? 54% is not massive.

    • JimC says:

      Is that all it is? Somehow I had the impression it was larger. But then I live in a predominantly white, middle-class Conservative voting area, so my impression is probably skewed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Jim,
      Why are you conflating aetheists with agnostics?
      Aetheists and other people of faith make irrational
      assertions that can not be proven. Atheists assert
      “There is no god”. Other faiths assert “There is a god
      (or gods sometimes)”. Neither of these statements can
      be proven. They are acts of faith.
      Agnostics are just not prepared to make that leap. Nor
      do they state “There is no god”.
      Also, as they don’t have firm beliefs, they do not exhibit
      the tendency to state “My view is right” all the time as (some) people of faith seem to do (especially aetheists of late).
      Gosh. I wish I had a faith like atheisim so that I could look down on all the fools who have got it “wrong” (rather like the debates after the Friday puzzle answer).

    • JimC says:

      Anon – My phrasing may have gotten a little sloppy due to time constraints, but my contention (open for debate) is that as the number of atheist people increases, so the number of agnostic people also increases. I’m assuming (not unreasonably, I think) that both constituencies would vote for the “None” option in the contest Richard outlines.

    • Gib says:

      Anon, there’s also the fact that many people use the term “Atheist” and “Agnostic” to refer to different things. Atheism is about what you believe, and Agnostic is about what you know. They aren’t continuums along the same line.

      You can be an agnostic atheist, agnostic theist.

      I’m an agnostic atheist about gods in general. I don’t think we can ever be certain there are no gods, but I don’t believe in them. About many interpretations of the Christian God, I am a full atheist. We can know that he doesn’t exist (due to logical conflicts regarding some qualities of said god).

    • Fish or Get off the Pot says:

      Agnostic theists?
      Do agnostic Jews observe Shabbas?
      Do agnostic Muslims go on the Haj and pay Zakat etc?
      Do agnostic Methodists do whatever normal Methodists do?
      Are you sure that these Agnostic thiests aren’t those imaginary friends that the aetheists are always banging on about?

    • Berber Anna says:

      The proper spelling is atheist, not aetheist. It’s derived from atheos, meaning ‘no god’ or ‘without god’. Theos is Greek for god. The prefix ‘a’ is used to define a lack of something.

      Agnostic Jews often do observe the Shabbas, just as agnostic Christians go to church at Christmas. An agnostic religious person would be someone who follows the traditions without knowing whether the god behind them exists. I find it a somewhat strange position, but yeah, they do exist.

    • Fish or Get off the Pot says:

      Well I’ll go to the foot of our stairs!

      Thanks for the etymology lesson Anne. I never knew…….

      Did you know that Agnostic is also a word based on Greek? “A” means without or “lack of something” as you say. “Gnosis” means knowledge. I guess that that means that these agnostic theists don’t really know what they are doing.

      Thanks for the spelling lesson too. Didn’t you notice I misspelt theists as “thiests” as well?

      It is a somewhat strange position though as you say.

    • Berber Anna says:

      Yeah, I took Greek in secondary school, so I know what agnostic means. Used in this sense, it implies not having knowledge of what the truth of spiritual matters is. I doubt that such people are agnostic about their own actions, though — it’s kind of hard not to know what one is doing.

      By the way, my name is Berber. And if you insist on using my middle name, which I suppose is your right as I do include it on my posts, it’s Anna. Not Anne.

    • ANON says:

      WARNING
      Humour deficit area above (but good on Greek though).

    • Berber Anna says:

      Not so much humour deficit, as ignoring a bad attempt at humour. And thanks for the compliment.

    • ANON says:

      WARNING
      Bad humour deficit area above

  13. Ross says:

    We have a firm separation of Church and State in the USA. There is no “official” religion here. You Europeans are so pathetically backward.

    • Jess says:

      Isn’t the USA supposed to be “one nation under God”? Doesn’t sound particularly separated…

    • We are the backward folk, because England = Europe? Well Ross, check your facts, then forward them to your fellow countrymen.

    • Berber Anna says:

      Which is clearly why the majority of Americans would never elect an atheist president, and why they keep bristling when the ACLU challenges school prayer and religious displays in public areas.

    • Martin says:

      Chaps… I think that what we see here is satire.😉

    • Berber Anna says:

      I’m not so sure of that — I’ve seen Americans defend that assertion in all earnest before.

    • Chris says:

      C’mon peeps, I’m sure Ross’ statement was entirely tongue in cheek.

    • Jenny says:

      Satire, and yet true, but not really. Many Americans hold that as an ideal, and if we fall short of it, well, who expected that?

      I can’t be arrested in the US for my beliefs, and I am not forced by law to attend religious services. But the US has no law that protects people from social disapproval based on belief. All religions are not equally loved here; they are just equal before the law (ideally).

    • Martin says:

      It’s an interesting one. The UK is officially a Christian state. The US is officially a secular state – though this can no longer be said to be 100% true – bank notes, and the Pledge of Allegiance, among others, have contained religious references since the 1950s. You can no longer pledge allegiance to the US of A without mentioning God.

      That said, US politics is far more religiously motivated that British politics, mainly because of the massive power of the Christian and Jewish lobbies and the conservative right in America. Religiously motivated bills are popular, and win votes. The UK population is far less religiously motivated, and of the 54% that call themselves Christian, many of those do not practice their religion. As many as half of British “Christians” don’t even share core Christian beliefs, such as Jesus being the son of God, or in the resurrection.

    • Ross says:

      My statement was intended to be both serious and tongue-in-cheek. There are no mandated acts of collective worship in our public schools, and I was surprised to learn that that is the case in England. However, I am well aware that Americans are—as a whole—a very religious people, and that religion (too often of a regressive sort) exercises a powerful influence on our politics. My statement that Europeans are “pathetically backward” was intended humorously and, to some extent, ironically.

    • Tony says:

      There’s not a firm separation everywhere Ross. Check this page out: http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/StateConstitutions.htm

      Seems you can’t hold public office in at least six states if you deny the existence of god. Not sure this would hold up in the Supreme Court, but it’s amazing to see that it’s still there.

  14. Sean says:

    I have a better idea. Every birthday, the Government should nominate a God for you by lottery from http://www.godchecker.com so there is always an equal number of adherents. For a year, you have to devoutly worship your chosen God and follow its decrees and instructions. It becomes your job to pipe up every time you are “offended” or feel oppressed by the behaviour of others who do not understand your religion. To ensure equality and to accommodate everyone, councils and schools will be expected to pass legislation and socially engineer the rest of us with “sensitivity training” so that we can accommodate those of a religious disposition.

    For example: wishing for a sunny day would be illegal because Baal will have no clouds to run around on with his Big Mallet.

    Then, perhaps, this will exemplify just how daft trying to accommodate religion really is.

    PS: This wouldn’t apply to Jehovas Witnesses who don’t celebrate birthdays.

    Seriously though: this is how I would teach Religious Education at school…

  15. Jimbo says:

    Here are a few stories, amusing and comforting in turn, about why church and State should be separate. The clip should start at 1’30, so skip to there if it doesn’t.

  16. Beaky says:

    1. Can’t happen in US without modifying our Constitution: first statement in first amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”

    2. Happens all the time anyway: money says “In God We Trust”, Congress added “Under God” to pledge of allegiance in 1954, Christian ministers of various stripes are present at Presidential inaugurations and other functions; elected officials and people testifying under oath swear on bibles (one has done so on a Koran) and overly-religious types are fond of saying the US was founded as a Christian nation. The Feds, States and localities do not tax religious establishments, our four military academies have chapels… a long list.

    3. Founding Fathers (weren’t there any Founding Mothers?) missed one item in that lovely first amendment – freedom FROM religion.

    4. Let’s everyone note previous comments: Atheism Is Not A Religion!
    It is not a belief. It is only a refusal to accept superstitions.

  17. Interesting idea, but I’m sensing it would be the start of a new Holy war

  18. Martin says:

    It’s a fun idea, and would surely put the ‘willies’ up the incumbent religion. However, it is just as ridiculous as having Christianity as the state religion, in that ultimately people would be marginalised.

  19. Martin says:

    Actually, while I recognise that Atheism is not a religion, I would love to see schools hold a daily, mandatory, collective reflection on the non-existence of God.

    • Richard says:

      It would take ages to reflect on the non-existence of all the gods that atheists don’t believe in though.

    • Martin says:

      True, but Richard… It would take almost as long for a Christian to reflect on all the gods that they don’t believe in!

      I’m not sure that they actually do that.

  20. Phil says:

    What about Buddhism? Probably the only major religion where no-one wants to kill you for disagreeing with them.

    (Actually, not a religion at all in its purest form as no blind belief is required.)

    • Pseudonym says:

      Actually, most of the Dharmic religions, including Taoism, Jainism and Confucianism, have that property.

      But then, the Church of England also has that property now. I’m also pretty sure that nobody has ever had their life threatened for disagreeing with Methodism. The idea is so laughable that Gilbert and Sullivan made a joke about it in The Gondoliers.

      The last comment, by the way, makes no sense at all. Only people who know nothing about comparative religion define “religion” to explicitly exclude anything they have any respect for.

      Do you remember how Christopher Hitchens defined Stalinism as “religion” and Trotskyism as “non-religion”? Or how he justified sending his daughter to a Quaker school by redefining it as “not really religious”? Defining “religion” to exclude atheistic Buddhism is the humanities equivalent of redefining “science” to include microevolution but not macroevolution, as if there’s some meaningful difference between them.

      Smart people who have nothing to prove take the existence of atheistic Buddhism to be evidence that “blind belief” is not a necessary condition to be a religion. You probably should too.

    • Berber Anna says:

      Phil, last year at the V&A Museum I took some lovely pictures of statues of Buddhist vengeance spirits. Rather mean-looking creatures with fire and swords and nooses, which according to the plaque next to them were intended for ‘the enemies of Buddhism’, including nonbelievers.

      I’m afraid humans just aren’t very good at nonviolent belief systems.

  21. dmon70 says:

    I voted ‘hate the idea’ because I’d hate to be subjected to endless campaign ads.

    On the other hand, I’d love to see the debate, with the candidates each taking the podium. Let’s see Jesus, Allah, Vishnu, and their peers up there advocating their ideologies…

    It’d be like Waiting for Godot, without the “ot”.

  22. Jeffery Lay says:

    Why not make it on a per-city basis, then watch the Daily hateMail go apoplectic when highly multicultural places like Leicester vote themselves Muslim.

    For the record, I voted that I like the idea, but only out of the available three options. I actually vastly prefer the idea that religion and governance should be as separate as possible.

  23. james botta says:

    you have introduced a nightmare in my country USA that has a constitution where it’s writers went out of their way to NOT establish a state religion.

  24. Arthur says:

    I like the idea, in that it would demonstrate to the country the privileges the current state enjoys. I honestly don’t think the majority of English people realise this.

    The UK isn’t like the US, where citizens have a sense of Constitutional Rights. British people generally don’t have a clue about the governance of their own country. On Question Time last week, an audience member proudly announced that Britiain had a “separation of church and state” as opposed to the religion of US politics, and I think she got applause for this!?!

  25. M says:

    Belief is not democratic and should not be. What a stupid idea.

    • Martin says:

      Well, see, that’s the point that’s being made here. We’re all currently subject to Christian dogma as part of the governance of this country. Why should it be Christian over anything else? Answer: Of couse, it shouldn’t be any religion at all.

    • M says:

      That belief is not democratic does not mean it has nothing to do with politics.

  26. Lazy T says:

    I believe that I don’t believe
    or don’t believe that I do.

    I don’t get it
    Vote Bumpy-planks!

  27. Martin says:

    I dare say the Jedi party would make an appearance in many constituencies; possibly the Pastafarians too – though they would be considered ‘splitters’ by both the Atheists and the ‘None’ party, who would also have slightly different agendas.

    Agnostics would possibly make an appearance, but would be seen, much like the Liberal Democrats, as a waisted vote. They would be rendered incapable of mounting a strong campaign due to indecision.

    Catholics would be absolutely unwilling to form any coalition.

    Surprisingly a massive alliance between spiritualism, homoeopathy, astrology, and mediums, would win by an landslide victory, mainly due to their links with the tabloid media. Sally Morgan takes the place of the Archbishop of Caterbury in the House of Lords (while being advised by the party through an earpiece).

  28. Kristian says:

    I think every kind of opinion basically boils down to an ethical point of view (e.g. the speed limit is a balance between infrastructure and driving danger). As such, politics and religions boil down to the same: A certain world view.

    Since religion has such a far reach, I find it smart to have it democratically guided (as I suppose the religions will try to make their versions as likable as possible to be elected).

    Of course I’m an atheist, so I would vote and campaign for the no religion option. But I’m sure there would be a cat fight of what atheist organisation would get the money and the wording in schools.

    But all in all, I think it’s an interesting input to an otherwise very stagnant field.

  29. Berhard says:

    I as an atheist “converted” form evangelic religion… may not accept anyone that favours a kind of “democratic” principle over fundamental/human rights.

    Just show me a single state having a state religion that may be acceptable for a freethought before even wasting any thought on this issue.

    My idea is that people should prefer a secular state over any State religion, imposed by tradition or any kind of election.

    With what religion you would like to see the “broadly christian character” of england be replaced?

  30. Sharon says:

    England’s “state religion” was the reason for moving to a new free land, where people could chose how they worship.

    Remember the pilgrims were burned out, prisoned and murdered for not practicing the state religion.

    Our early colonial forefathers tried theocracy (id est Puritans, Quakers etc) but it held too many problems. So, when our nation was born, the Bill of Rights included a separation of church and state.

    So, no I believe a state religion is against our constitution.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Religion does need anymore attention!

  32. The Masked Twit says:

    Sounds like a ood idea Richard.
    Why don’t we let people vote for whether they want the death penalty for murder too?

  33. JonH says:

    Interesting question – but even amongst the select group who read your blog, the options have a hint of sample bias: “hate” is not the opposite of “rather like”. Now work out which way I voted!

  34. Pseudonym says:

    Just an observation: It seems to me that this question is inseparable from the question of voting for the upper house of Parliament.

  35. Nargg says:

    At the time of my vote, 45% of people liked the idea. To me that says that 45% of the folks here DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!!!

    The U.S.A. was created to remove religous requirements from government. That was the MAIN REASON our forefathers created this great country. If you don’t believe in Amercia and why it was created, then I’d suggestion leaving. Don’t let the shore hit you on the ass on your way out.

    And don’t be so stupid as to try to stereotype me either. You’d be wrong.

    • Martin says:

      Do you think most of the people reading this blog/voting are from the USA?

      I don’t know if they are or not, but I suspect a very large proportion, like Richard, are British.

    • Hard to tell, but I’d guess more than 45% of the people here (including Richard) are not in or from the United States of America. (That’s why it’s called the World Wide Web).

    • Berber Anna says:

      Nargg, are you aware that Richard Wiseman is a British professor at a British university? I’d assume that most readers of his blog are British (with the odd foreigner here and there, such as myself). So while you may be right that they don’t understand the United States of America, they can hardly follow your suggestion of leaving, as they’re not there in the first place.

      Also, what’s an Amercia and why should I believe in it?

  36. Anonymous says:

    i dident read any of these comments all i want to say is: State and religion should be separated and should never be linked.

  37. Neil says:

    It’s an interesting idea but I think it would just add another layer upon which conflict in some form or another could be based and would just stir the pot of emotions more than is necessary.

  38. Kim Martinussen says:

    I really dislike this idea. I believe the religions would have a need for greater recruitment, and would increase their efforts to gain more believers. The poor and sick would be vulnerable to this.

    • Anon says:

      “The poor and sick would be vulnerable to this.”
      Why – are the poor and sick more stupid than clever people like you Kim?

  39. Anonymous says:

    I would rather choose no religion, if the religion makes me choose a certain group to be with and make me hate other groups of people just because they dont think in the same way with me. Just because i believe in a certain way doesnt make me anymore human than anyone else. But seperated or outcasted it feels rather like youre being treated differently.

  40. Vern_B says:

    It would absolutely be worth the effort to introduce the idea into the national conversation, even if it does seem like a pipe dream, just to shine a spotlight on how egomaniacal the church gets when fighting not to let slip its grasp on the reigns.

  41. Damocles says:

    Atheism isn’t a religion, but it is a belief based system.

    • Berber Anna says:

      I’d rather call in an unbelief based system. If not believing in something is a belief system, I have more belief systems that I can count… I don’t believe in Santa, I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny, I don’t believe in the tooth fairy, I don’t believe in underpans gnomes… Etcetera.

    • Anon says:

      And I don’t believe that you are smug Berber Anna – but I could be wrong of course.
      [I could express this as I believe that you are not smug Berber Anna]

  42. Damocles says:

    “Berber Anna”, that’s lovely fo you.

  43. Richard's Dorkings says:

    Why bother with a state religion when you can passify the masses with electronic media?

  44. Holly says:

    I am a christian but also live in England. Due to other religions and other culters (which I have NOTHING against, I try to be as open minded as possible) we dont have prayers at schools, nor are we allowed to call it Christmas in schools anymore, instead its winter holidays. We werent allowed to sing Christmas songs anymore as it was offensive. (Although Christmas doesnt exactly have anything to do with being a christian or such it is still a ‘Christian’ thing) So I dont think this would ever work as some religion will turn around and say you cant do that, its offensive.

  45. The alternative to ‘imposition by tradition’ is getting rid of that tradition, not election. Forcing children to participate in a christian worship is a manifest violation of human rights. The idea of electing the next abuser of rights is totally absurd.
    It is easy and democratic to elect 26 religious officials to the House of lords than electing a state religion which can automatically claim 26 seats for its bishops.
    By the way, I am so impressed to learn that in ENGLAND schools are still legally obliged to stage a daily act of collective worship.

    The Following article from the telegraph gave me more information.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tomchiversscience/100103372/apparently-prayer-in-schools-is-still-legally-required-who-knew/

  46. Pete says:

    I don’t really care if a small majority of people believe in a particular ancient myth or not – this idea is ridiculous as it would give (presumably) Christians a mandate to smugly run the country with the teachings of a 2,000 year old Book. Is that really where we should be in the 21st Century?

    People have a right to believe whatever they want, but not impose the percieved will of a fictional god on to others. If anything we should be dismantling any religious control of the country we already have.

    Besides, a lot of people would simply vote Christian because they feel that’s what they should do, to keep the British “culture”, rather than because they actually believe in the literal story of Jesus Christ. Right-wing groups would push for the vote not because of religious belief, but for political reasons. It wouldn’t be an actual test of belief in god, rather than a misguided vote for the British status quo, but religious groups would still spin it that way when they won, and use it as evidence that religious influence should be ramped up.

    The only upside I can see is the amusing ‘Vote Jedi’ campaign that would start up…

    • Richard's Dorkings says:

      Those Christians are certainly smug aren’t they Pete?
      Whatever their faults (probably none) atheists are definitely not prone to smugness.

  47. Leszek Cyfer says:

    Give religious organisation a hand, they’ll grab entire arm

  48. Ray Tapajna says:

    We have had a state religion for years in the U.S. It is based on the state controlling events that should be left for people to decide on their own. Marriage is union of a husband and wife in a divine setting where husband and wife agree to serve one another in a divine order of things. The natural order of things will never be able to do this no matter what a state rules no matter how many marriage certificates they give out.

    Two people under the state can make most any agreement they want to but in spiritual matters, the state really has no right to step across the line into spiritual order of things. When they do, the state becomes a belief system and take on a form of their own religious convictions. Making laws like this just end up into a need for making more laws until the law really has no merit.

    In education, we have a state religion that follows Dewey with the belief that infants are born innocent and it is the environment they live in that fosters them to do bad things. This type of naturalism has controlled our state educational systems for years.

    Atheist practiced a belief system to and could be classified as a religion too.

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