LETTER: Religion should be a private matter

I would like to have bought the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Woodhall yesterday but I wasn’t surprised that the limited print run didn’t make it here.

If someone would like to stock it in the future I will buy it.

For me religion is a private matter and people have the right to believe what they like; but, this belief whatever it maybe has no place in the public square. Religions refuse to keep it so, instead they enter the public space to proselytise and demand special privileges. By doing this all of us are therefore quite entitled to critique their views and indeed to lampoon. The religions then shout foul and claim to be offended – they have no right to do so.

On the side of the divide, I like countless others, I suspect, am offended everyday by the irrational beliefs of the religious, beliefs lacking a scintilla of evidence. I’m offended everyday by religion’s disparaging attitude towards women. I’m offended everyday by religion’s coercive approach to child education, forcing religion upon young intellectually defenceless minds. I’m offended everyday by religion’s discriminatory (and worse) attitude towards the gay community. I’m offended everyday by religion’s view that it has the one true answer and if you disagree there will be retribution – quite terrible retribution in some cases. I could go on.

I think some good will come from what happened in Paris – we won’t tiptoe around this issue anymore, cowed by the implied threat of retribution should offense be taken. People are free to believe what they like – that is their right. But in a democratic pluralistic society religion must learn to deal with criticism. If it doesn’t it will be the smaller for it and hasten its decline.

Graham Keegan

Woodhall Spa