ESS’s Norman Bonney in the Herald

Vision of a world which relegates religion to the private and personal realm

Rosemary Goring’s article on secularism stimulated a very instructive set of letters (June 18) but secularists need to make it clear they are strong advocates of freedom of expression.

Secularism does not want to still the religious voice.

Secularism is strongly in favour of people being free to congregate on any lawful basis and express their views on any matter so long as this, too, is done on a lawful basis.

Some people like to do this on a religious basis and good luck to them.

The key objective of secularism is to ensure a level playing field in the public arena which guarantees that religious voices and institutions are not privileged in public institutions, such as in controlling or influencing publicly funded education or defining the laws of marriage which should, of course, ultimately be determined by our elected representatives.

Too often the opposition to religious privilege by secularists is mischievously interpreted by religious apologists as an attack on the very ideas and practice of religion.

But in a free society even religious denominations must expect to be the target of criticism.

Too often in the past negative views of some religious denominations have been suppressed since they have been considered improper, disrespectful or even hateful.

Religions institutions must expect and tolerate critical comments about them and the questionable privileges granted to some of them by both the UK and the Scottish parliaments.

Norman Bonney,

Palmerston Place,


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