It Gets Weirder By The Day

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any dafter along comes a quango which pushes the boundaries ever further into la-la land. In England and Wales the Charity Commission have deemed it right and proper that Druids, with a couple of hundred adherents, should be granted tax breaks because they are an officially recognised ‘religion.’

Druids claim to believe in the spirits of places such as mountains and rivers as well as “divine guides” such as Brighid and Bran.

An organisation must be of public benefit to receive charity status. Hang around Stonehenge wearing your nightdress, hug a few trees, listen to the execrable music of Enya, feel at home in Glastonbury the weirdest town on earth, and that’s you sorted.

In this the Charity Commission are following the police who a few years ago decided that Druidry was an accepted religion and it’s adherents should be allowed time off for their ‘religious’ holidays.

Now, as a Christian what constitutes a religion is of little consequence to me, I despise the very concept of religion. Along with Barth, Kierkegaard, Ellul etc. I realise that Christianity is not a religion. A religion is what men and women create when they try to reach up and find God, Christianity is the opposite, it is what we receive when God reaches down to men and women. Christianity has no greater enemy than the insidious attempt to turn it into a religion.

One of the absurd consequences of contemporary religious relativism is its insistence that every creed be treated with respect. No offence must be given to any who proclaim their religious inanities. This leaves the field wide open. If the druids why not the Jedi? Why not create your own religion of the Benevolent Spaghetti Monster, gather a couple of hundred adherents and apply for tax exempt charity status?

I happen also to believe in religious freedom. If druids wish to hug trees let them, as long as they don’t frighten the horses or return to indulging in human sacrifice. Remember there was a jolly good reason why the Romans wiped out the original and real druids.

However, I do object to my taxes and those of my parishoners, most of whom are officially living in poverty, being used to subsidise the absurdities of the willingly delusional.

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About Campbell

Now retired but once upon a time a parish minister in Glasgow, before that the South West and initially the Black Isle. Been a prison chaplain and lecturer. Still am constantly bemused by the weird world around me.
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One Response to It Gets Weirder By The Day

  1. Catherine says:

    I think we are agreed on the charity issue- that the end result should dictate the charitable status rather than the faith (or lack thereof) which motivates. If a group of people come together to do some social good then they deserve some social support.

    I come to my conclusions about the religion question as someone who studied religion at university and therefore countless hours of discussion and reading about what “religion” really means. To a non-believer, Christianity does not distinguish itself from, for example, Judaism, Buddhism or neo-Pagan beliefs and is seen as one among many. I can appreciate that believers may not see it that way but then a considerable number of neo-Pagans don’t see their beliefs as “religion” either.

    Defining “religion” is hugely problematic and I agree with you that “If something means anything then it means nothing.” Practically, Whaling’s model is the best thing we have to define it as it identifies features of religion but also manages to exclude other things which people may consider to be of unrivalled importance (e.g. football).

    While I don’t think you are necessarily factually incorrect about Druidry, I think that it is fairly easy to reduce any faith to seemingly idiotic beliefs. I’m sure you’ve seen people do it to Christianity frequently. It is nevertheless an unfair representation. By not entertaining truth claims about any faith, I don’t see Druidry as any less valid than a religion with a longer history. The basis of Druidry and neo-Paganism in general is nature-worship which pre-dates Semitic religions by thousands of years. I don’t see the fact that it is not a perfect recreation as especially important. Christianity in 21st century Scotland is not in practice the same as the religion of 1st century AD Judea, nor should it be. I don’t think we can say that Christianity is a more evolved, intelligent religion than the “primitive” ones which pre-date it without entering dangerous territory by having to give the same credit to dangerous cults like Scientology.

    I’ve enjoyed the discussion, even if we see things rather differently. It’s nice to have a debate on the internet in which no one has resorted to petty insults and swearing. Thank you.

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