I’ve said before that I am an atheist that belong to the “don’t be a dick school of atheism”. That means that I won’t call people that believe in god ‘idiots’ or ‘uneducated trash’. I won’t do that because never in human history has anyone been convinced by someone shouting insults into their faces.

That doesn’t mean that I think organised religion is a positive force in the world. Mainly, it is not. It breeds extremism, and it breeds nonchalance in the face of extremism. For instance, you have Christians that are keen to tell gay people that they don’t believe like those other Christians, but they rarely protest against the Christians that say nasty things.

A belief that a deity prescribes a course of action means that you will have followers that take that course of action to the extreme. You will have people who believe that the Bible is the literal word of their deity. Then you have to follow the word of the deity, and then you have to be anti-gay.

The ones that don’t go that far remain silent about the extremists, because they subconsciously accept the extremism. The literal interpretation is still there, and they have an uphill battle of changing attitudes, so they don’t do it. By not attacking the attitude, what remains is to attack the protests against the extremism for including the non-extremist Christians in the extremist camp.

In many parts of Europe we’re mainly secular. Religion does not have a great influence, and what influence it has is kept private, away from public life. This means that our politicians can, even as conservatives, embrace marriage equality, such as Fredrik Reinfeldt and David Cameron has.

Like with Reinfeldt and the conservative-liberal coalition government in Sweden, it looks like David Cameron’s conservative-liberal government in the UK will introduce marriage equality.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t have Christians that try to halt the tide, such as the Catholic of Shrewsbury in the UK that launched a tirade during the annual pilgrimage of the National Association of Catholic Families to the Marian Shrine in Walsingham about comments made by the deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg .

Experience, of course, might make us cautious of such assurances, even those given by a Deputy Prime Minister, that this agenda will not threaten religious freedom.

Today we see a government, without mandate, disposing of any credible consultation, seeking to impose one of the greatest acts of ‘social engineering’ in our history in uprooting the legal definition of marriage. Marriage lies at the very foundation of the family.

For all generations to come one generation of politicians sets out to demolish in the name of an ‘equality agenda’ the understanding of marriage that has served as the timeless foundation for the family.

The Government is seeking to do this at the very moment when marriage as an institution has been more weakened than ever before. Yet it asks: why are people of faith concerned?

So far from weakening and confusing the foundation of the family we invite our political leaders to give back to the institution of marriage and the family the recognition and confidence it deserves.

The lack of outrage, and the sense that people just shrug him off, shows that at least in this country as well as in other parts of Europe, the Christians are losing ground as moral arbiters of anything. They’re not exactly winning when they’re trying to sway the mainly secular populations. On the contrary they’re marginalising themselves by their fulminating antagonism against real people.

In the US the churches still seem to have a strong position, and we’ve seen a string of eyebrow-raising sermons coming out of that country lately.

One of my American friends said something that might be true, although I’m in no position to judge its accuracy. He said: They’re screaming so loud just to be heard. If they talk normally, nobody listens.

That is a reassuring thought, and he pointed ut that in a decade or so the amount of non-religious people have sky-rocketed from a few per cent of the population to over a quarter. That would mean that Christianity is rapidly losing ground in the USA, and that can only be for the good.

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