Clearly so long as there are far-reaching anomalies that need sorting, then it makes sense to have “ministers” whose job it is to work the issues. Clearly it makes sense for religious groups doing social good in the UK to be considered on their merits for UK charitable status like any other such group, but equally clearly the secular state shouldn’t be supporting specific religions promoting their religious practices. Hence the scope for anomalies and questions. So far so good.
As an atheist any defence of religions is cultural. That extends to having representatives of churches in the second chamber, to represent the cultural heritage of social values. Plenty of scope for anomalies and compromises there too, but being difficult to organise and agree doesn’t make it wrong. And yes, those church representatives need to “reflect” the current population, church populations that is, but this is about cultural heritage, not representation by popular voting – so historical as well as current. It’s a force of conservatism. Not surprisingly the Anglican church has a de-facto privilege here, but one that erodes over time, to reflect the cultural balance. (Note that this is entirely about human values, and has nothing whatsoever to do with rational questions of whether science is right and religion is wrong.)
Heller concludes with a little sarcasm, referring to the example anomaly, that a Mormon group gets the dubious benefits of charitable status:
Meanwhile, I shall continue my pursuit of Baroness Warsi.
Would she meet me if I became a Mormon?
Oh, how we laughed.
[Post Note : Sad that most of the comments on the Yahoo piece have nothing to do with the post, just rants about religion(s). Sad that is the environment in which Richard Heller gets to write. And sad that you can’t comment without signing up to Yahoo, not even with your Facebook identity. Criminal.]