Last week’s attack by Mr Eccles on organised religion in general and the Church of England in particular made painful reading for this member of a faith community.
While accepting that, both in our individual lives and religious institutions, our egocentric impulses too often distort God’s truth and mercy into prejudice, sectarianism, fundamentalism, misogyny, homophobia and downright abuse and cruelty, I maintain that, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, religion is a “vital contributor to the national conversation” on how we may best achieve the public good.
This is because it continues to demand respect for the dignity of each human being and rejects the all too common ideology that human worth should be measured in terms of physical beauty, wealth, health, intelligence and fame.
For centuries and world-wide, religious principles have inspired men and women to surrender their security, comfort and leisure to the care of the sick, the hungry, the dispossessed and the unschooled.
This tradition continues. Today in Halifax, asylum seekers and other migrants find help at St Augustine’s Community Centre.
Christians Together run the food bank at New Ebenezers. These are just two local faith-based initiatives out of many. True, secular provision also makes a significant contribution to local welfare.
But this does not mean that the authentic experience of faith which inspires the commitment of religious believers should be dismissed as bogus.
Whether 26 Church of England bishops should keep the right to a seat in House of Lords is a question ripe for debate.
Let us conduct the latter with open minds and without rejecting out of hand the experience and wisdom of our faith communities.
Butts Green Lane, Warley