I’ll be honest. Until recently I never quite appreciated how non-secularized Britain is. They say prayers in Parliament before business commences; I went to a publicly funded Catholic School who used that money to teach me that eating whilst stood up was some sort of sin; and we have an official religion. So it surprises me that there isn’t wider disgust, while British people can become righteously indignant that Creationism is still an issue in education over in the US. We should be yearning for a separation of church and state.
Christians In Parliament, is according to it’s Chairman, Alan Selous MP, an “official all-Party body, working throughout Westminster with a clear vision: to encourage relationships in, with and through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
He continues, “You will be pleased to know that there is more Christian activity in the Palace of Westminster than generally assumed.”
Well, I must say, I’m cook-a-hoop. I’m verging on the tumescent. Pleased really isn’t the word for how I feel. Is it possible to vomit through your eyes?
In April, the National Secular Society (NSS) published some research into the cost of religious services within the NHS. Using the Freedom of Information Act, they found that Chaplaincy services are costing them … £32 million.
That same amount could pay for 1,300 nurses.
Let’s be clear, the money for these chaplaincies is coming from public funds, not from the Church. That means a Religious Recruiting Officer is in place, ready to propagandise to the weak, scared and vulnerable at the NHS’ expense.
As the President of the NSS says, “A hospital should not be a happy hunting ground for religious proselytisers, whether they are chaplains or other hospital staff.” This last comment is in relation to their finding that patients are routinely pestered by religiously motivated nurses.
If a Catholic Priest is called to administer the last-rites, they charge the hospital a call out fee.
My local health authority spends a quarter of a million pounds on salaries for four Chaplains. That works out at nearly four times the average salary of a nurse.
(Follow this link to find out how much your LHA is paying priests: http://www.secularism.org.uk/uploads/list-of-trusts-and-amounts-spent.pdf )
The President of the NSS concludes, “It is time for the Church or religious organisations to accept their responsibility for providing these services in order to avoid hospitals having to cut front line medical care. It should look closely at the chaplaincy team and see what savings could be made there without any impact on patient care at all.”
So where’s the harm in this symbiosis of church and state? Surely religion provides comfort and support to people and is a power for good? Let’s wander over to Ireland where the full scale of the systemic abuse of the Catholic Church is being laid bare.
“Perhaps the crowning injustice for Ireland is that the Church and politicians working to further its cause rather than serve the Irish people have managed through disingenuous means to saddle the Irish exchequer with paying well over a billion Euros towards the victims’ compensation – while the body responsible, the Church, is contributing less than a tenth of the payments, and serious doubts have been raised as to whether in reality the Church has contributed even as little as that.”
Keith Porteous Wood, NSS
It’s worth taking a moment to read that again. The compensation money for the victims of abuse at the hands of priests is being paid for by the Irish Exchequer.
The Archbishop of Westminster said that it has taken “courage” for the clergy involved in this abuse to confront their actions. Does it also take courage to let the victims themselves foot the compensation bill for their abuse?
It might be worth wondering, should widespread violence and abuse be uncovered within the ranks of the Church of England, who will be asked to pay the compensation?