This entry was posted on
Monday, December 19th, 2005 at
12:26 pm and is filed
Who Runs Britain? bloggage continues. Here is a mirror of my latest entry on the Today/BBC website. It relates to the segement broadcasted on Saturday, with panellists Richard Harries, Peter Atkins and Dr Farhan Nizami discussing the influence of religion.
Tch! I could have sworn that the question was ‘Who runs Britain?’, not ‘What runs Britain?’…
Also, this week, a lot of the panellists who have been invited to speak on this matter have focused not on who holds the power, but who should or should not be using the power they may or may not hold in a certain way. This morning’s panel was no exception.
Here I should point out that I’ve been guilty of this myself, but I’d like to think that I kept my rant short, sweet, to the point, and presented fairly and in context. After all, it involved a name; one candidate who may be a valid answer to that question ‘Who runs Britain?’… but we’ll get back to that name again soon. Promise.
Right now, let’s get back to this morning’s problem; the question is ‘who’, and today’s candidate – again – is a ‘what’…
Religion is an issue, religion is an influence, and religion is a weapon. But most importantly (at least when it comes to the discussion of power and its use) religion is an institution.
Most religious institutions are based on faith and the promise of reward; this is often what makes it such a pressing issue, such an incredible influence, and such an effective weapon.
Throughout the ages, religion has been used (or abused) to great effect.
In pursuit of the answer to the question ‘Who runs Britain?’ – not ‘Who ran Britain?’ or ‘Who shaped Britain?’ – we need to identify the individuals who are currently using (or abusing) religion in a way that shapes/influences our lives the most.
Our first name for consideration is George W. Bush. Behind George W. Bush is a collection of neoconservatives with a number of influential groups behind them; including the Christian right (though many bumper stickers make the claim that they are neither Christian nor right). These people believe that conflict in the Middle East is both inevitable and necessary, that the small matter of the environment will be settled by God’s will, and that abstinence should be taught instead of safety/contraception. If you disagree with their views, you’ll probably hold the view that resulting war, famine and pestilence has and will have a considerable influence on our lives – and fair enough. If you agree with their views… well, you can’t very well argue that the Rapture will skip Britain, now can you?
Our second name for consideration is Tony Blair. Behind Tony Blair is a collection of people of the Christian faith. The point was raised by one of the panel that some of these people may only claim to be Christian for reasons of career advancement. There is also evidence to suggest that the way Tony Blair behaves is far from Christian, but even if the whole Cabinet makes a mockery of faith, it cannot be denied that the Christian religion plays a big part in their formation, direction and promotion. The religion of Islam also drives them, albeit in a completely different way (ditto for Bush’s crew).
And here we come to our final name for consideration… Osama bin Laden. Is he following/promoting the true will of Allah? I’m going to be dreadfully unfair here and suggest that perhaps this is not the case, but – as with Bush and Blair – for the purposes of this discussion it really doesn’t matter. Osama bin Laden operates under the banner of a religion and – despite how much we would care to deny it – he has had an enormous impact on the way we live our lives; even if you only take into account the varying ways people now approach the Muslim faith as a result of his actions (be it positive or otherwise… attention has been turned to this faith where previously it would not have been given much thought either way by those who live outside of it).
The interplay between these three individuals has, especially in the past four years, had an enormous effect on our economy, our laws, our foreign policy, and the way we interact as a society.
So, to summarise, that’s two religions (maybe three… or five… or twelvety), a wide variety of beliefs and many conflicting and/or false claims (depending on your point of view)…. and three names.
And – even if we stick to religion as the primary topic – we can still add a fourth:
(Damn and blast it! Now I’ve used The Name, I feel compelled to carry on with yet another nutty conspiracy theory. OK, let’s keep it seasonal… One man has control of a central database of names and information. This database is global in nature, it is constantly updated with information relating to our ongoing actions, and annual checks are made in order to determine who has been naughty and who has been nice. Where will this madness end?)