Home > Religion > A brief note on Ann Widdecombe’s programme Does Christianity Have a Future?

A brief note on Ann Widdecombe’s programme Does Christianity Have a Future?

Phillip Blond said on his twitter feed last night (re Ann Widdecombe’s programme Does Christianity Have a Future?):

Great programme but no idea why ann didn’t do the global figures – more christians than ever before in raw numbers and world percentages

The answer to this is that such figures would not perhaps fit her narrative.

In answer to the question “is the growth of secularism a worry”, put to the former British Conservative Party politician by Alyssa McDonald for the New Statesman, Ann replied:

Secularism has no central goal, it’s just promoting endless relativism. That’s why there is a huge moral drift in the country. Everybody is infallible except the Pope, if you like. Crazy.

Strictly speaking, the UK does not have secularism*, or more specifically laicism, since the head of state is also the head of the church, but certainly the state does not assume the role of religious imposer and in this regard Britain may be considered soft secular.

Amazingly however, some assume that the state, in not imposing one religious discourse to those it governs, has become morally neutral or relative, and one consequence of this is moral decay or drift.

In 2007 Widdecombe said:

“Most of our social ills are down to loss of authority; in schools, by the police, in the home, in organised religion.

“There is a slow descent into anarchy. We are in moral anarchy. In some estates it is already there. To change things, you must start to restore authority to the police.”

In some part, Widdecombe believes that today’s moral anarchy is to do with loss of authority in organised religion.

In 2010, she put it bluntly:

if today we still tried to follow the Ten Commandments we would be a better society

There is no doubt about it, for Widdecombe moral decay in our society is down to the fact that religion is less important to people.

So to return to Blond’s question “why … didn’t [Ann] do the global figures”? Perhaps because if she had noted a global growth in religiosity, particularly with the Christian religion, then given her logic of these matters, we could expect to be on some sort of road to moral harmony soon.

*Ms Widdecombe knows Britain is not secular, indeed she once said “Britain is “a Christian country. There is one established church here. The law does follow that.” But does she know what secular means?

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  1. Paul
    April 18, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    I really didn’t see the point of this programme. Ann seems to be asserting that messages of morality etc should be monopolised by the church and that because people aren’t going to church anymore, they feel anything goes. I just wanted her to come out and deliver the age old argument from morality for religion. She seems to think we need our codes of conduct read out to us by some authoratative institution, instead of learning from moral philosophy and good old common sense. Even if Christianity was the sole source of moral conduct, it has no bearing on whether the claims of the religion regarding the supernatural are true. Morality can be taught without all this metaphysical baggage and I find it insulting that some suggest people think they can do as they please without religion. Ironically, it says more about their psychology than mine as they are implying they only behave out of fear of some final judgement. I don’t need that fear. I very real effects resulting from from my actions here and now – it’s called guilt and the rule of law.

    • April 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm

      I think you’re right Paul – Ann’s beliefs, so she tells us, are predicated on the existance of Truth as opposed to the relativity of personal truths, and that the Ten Commandments are to be unquestioned. Richard Dawkins and his like pick out and stereotype this type of unthinking in the religious community, but Widdecombe is a case study to prove it does actually exist. It’s an insult to us, but since her beliefs are so flabby, to say she’s a wally is no insult to her.

      • Paul
        April 20, 2011 at 5:57 pm

        Dawkins does raise this issue very well. What’s further is that people choosing to accept the Bible as a moral guide must initially make the moral judgement that the Bible is indeed morally acceptable – a judgement independent of the Bible itself which shows we don’t have morality wholly dictated to us. Once someone has accepted the Bible, they must then chose between God and the Devil – another moral judgement independent of the Bible. Theists are just caught out with any argument from morality as atheists who possess their own morality are testament to the falsehood of the argument.

      • April 20, 2011 at 8:34 pm

        I think often it is easier for Dawkins to caricature, but in Widdy he has the perfect case study for his caricature – this says more about her than it does praises Dawkins. I think you’re right that The Bible does ask one to make independent moral leaps (I think this is what you’re saying) and so to rely on it wholly is erroneous, and really the reserve of the fool, which I’m here accusing Widdy of being.

        Like most theists and atheists alike, I think there are many worthy assertions in the Bible, but rather than say they are human assertions anyway (like Johann Hari does in the programme), they relate to Christian teaching quite specifically – which should be perceived in the same way as Kant or any other set of moral criteria. To turn the other cheek is a worthy moral code, and it is a Christian one since in common parlance it is Christianity we relate it to, but it is not a supernatural code, therefore we all must accept – Christians included – that these are teachings of the Christian tradition and not of God (for whom there is no evidence).

        Another way of putting it might be to say Christianity is a humanism.

  2. Dunc
    April 19, 2011 at 11:25 am

    What fucking moral decay in our society? In many ways, we’re better than every before – largely because authority figures no longer get a free pass to do whatever the fuck they like. (At least, not to quite the same extent. There’s still a long way to go.)

    Whenever I hear this sort of bullshit, I always thing of >this marvellous post by Mark Steele:

    It was a time without hoodies or political correctness, when children were taught respect and the bobby on the beat was not afraid to give young scallywags a clip round the ear and ignore their allegations of mass abuse [...] Maybe in Jersey the old politicians say: “We need to get back to the values of the 1960s, when you could go out all night, leave your door open and know that no one would come in and rescue the child you were keeping hostage.”

    Still, what do you expect from crazy fucking godbotherers?

    • April 19, 2011 at 12:08 pm

      ooo Dunc that got up your nose didn’t it. She makes no attempt to criticise some rogue church’s complicity in advancing consumer capitalist myths about self-betterment, such as work hard, buy this fancy car. Many a Pentecostal book shop has flash copies of the Bible alongside self-help books telling you how to get rich quick, with men in gold suits fulfilling Phil Collins’ own prophecy.

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