During his state visit to Britain just now, the Pope has expressed concern that British values and way of life could be eroded harmfully by increasing aggressive atheism. His comments are informed both by his religious beliefs and by his formative childhood experiences in atheist Nazi Germany. So he has authority in what he says. It behoves any host to listen politely to their invited guest, so I wonder what we construe in the vitriolic opposition to his visit by Britons who like to be identified by their membership of humanist organisations. (Are they atheist?). They criticise the behaviour of the Pope, but are we to discern their values from their behaviour also?
I read a moving article* today of the plight of the miners trapped underground long-term in Chile. They see themselves as being on a long shift (much longer than the half-day shift they expected). They've appointed people to particular tasks. One of the miners is now pastor, and part of his responsibility is to lead daily prayers and to prepare sermons. It appears that these are recorded, and published, although I haven't found them online. I presume that the miners are Roman Catholic, as about 90% of the country are, and so part of the Pope's extended flock.
This leads me to my test of whether Britain is aggressively atheist and whether that is harmful to society.
If there were a similar disaster in Britain, would the victims appoint a pastor from among themselves? How do you feel about that? Do you think that any atheists in the group would oppose such an appointment aggressively? If the atheists did act in this way, do you think it would be harmful?
(Comments welcome, as always!)
* The Week, quoting an article in The Guardian newspaper.