Privilege and the Pagan: The road to Tirumala
Privilege, by definition, is enjoyed by the few over the many; its proponents know and use the power that emanates from it. Regardless of its sources – birth, education, old-wealth, sacerdotal, or political patronage, it displays an uncanny symmetry across time and space: a sort of discriminatory privilege without borders.
In today’s world, it binds the West’s Christian religious privilege with its progeny, the secular privilege bequeathed to an Indian minority.
There is, however, a unique asymmetry: the Hindu is excluded from the hallowed circle of privilege, being deemed a pagan despite protestations of “we believe in one god as well” and guilty of hereditary possession of “caste” privilege and allegedly exercising its worst excesses.
Consider this: Shashi Tharoor who really knows secular privilege , has recently suffered a strange case of the Amazing Grace variety, miraculously discovering his “Once was lost but now am found Hindu” self , has had to endure insults for claiming to be a Hindu, being “born on Shivaratri and therefore named Shashi and whose Ishtadevata is Ganapathy” and for his “family’s devotion to the Guruvayur temple itself (being) a privilege” .
Thus, the pagan Hindu is accused of “caste” privilege by secular judge and jury, who are unable to explain how this pagan’s society, which barely survived a millennium of invasions and colonisation, managed to sustain privilege under the noses of countless wazirs and viceroys.
Exercising their privilege, secular judge and jury preach the sanctity and secularity of the Indian Constitution, remaining oblivious of their Western role models’ anthem of “God save the Queen,” and monopoly dispensation for Church at the centre of political life. The irony that “secular” legal tender is sanctified by “in God we trust” too is lost on them, as the green stuff that oils a secular civilization on weekdays is reviled as the work of the devil incarnate on Sundays.
Any Indian displaying even a hint of pagan Hindu-ness has to be a communal, saffron-clad marauding bull; a bull that must be accelerated to karmic liberation and readied for a secular feast.
So, no surprise that TV studios regularly clog up to bash Hindu pagans: brushing aside accusations of temple fund misappropriation and dismissing the firing of the Head Priest at Tirumala as inconsequential. Give ample excuses, evade questions about the unique, secularly sanctioned constitutional discrimination against Hindus, and devoutly chant secular mantras in praise of unscrupulous, socially divisive scaremongering of foreign appointed bishops.
As if in a puff of smoke, like every case of injustice against the pagan Hindu majority, the Tirumala story disappeared off the news.
The perversity of secularism is so entirely lost on its followers that they neither have the courage to confront their own cowardice nor to comprehend the zealotry of its divinely sanctified representatives who drive secular narrative. When not leading the charge against the culture and practices of the pagan Hindu, the mainstream media merely avoids inconvenient questions:
- Why no probes into the veracity of sacked Tirumala Temple chief priest Ramana Deekshitulu’s allegations of the state government’s long record of misappropriation of crores of rupees of temple donations for non-religious and arbitrary “development” activities?
- Why no peep about missing jewellery, nor raised eyebrows over the miraculous shattering of a pink diamond by a pagan devotee’s magic coin? What angelic agency transported one of the precious gem-pieces to Sotheby’s auction house in Switzerland?
Instead, bland statements like that of government-appointed Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams’ (TTD) Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal, who asserted, without proffering any details or justification that all jewels noted in the Tiruvabharanam register were “safe and sound”.
Media probity and enquiry revels in wall-to-wall coverage of “majoritarian intolerance”, “threats to democracy”, and implicitly endorses “prayers…. for a new government and … for harmony and peace steering far away from hatred and violence… enshrined in our Constitution and the secular fabric of our nation”  . Secularists outside India share this contempt for Hindus as much as their Indian counterparts so much so that they forget their secularity when repeating Christian motivated anti-Hindu religious bigotry without a moment’s thought .
Where Hindu gurus face ridicule and worse, where Hindu temples are only to be used as cash cows for state-sponsored anti-Hindu activities, and Hindus are by definition “communal”, it must surely mean that only prayers to the one true god can be secular.
The Power of Trinity
Political influence and power of unelected groups are the clearest and most visible sign of privilege. This begs a question: how does privilege work, and are secular privilege and religious privilege different?
Looking at religious privilege leads to further questions:
- Should a democracy offer any religious group any privilege?
- What if the privilege is historic and now in the hands of a fast dwindling minority?
- How about new minorities whose numbers are increasing in relation to previous holders of religious hegemony?
- Is it right that a democracy permit favouritism or separate laws for religious groups?
- How then to deal fairly with those minorities that either don’t have “the numbers” or don’t seek separateness?
- Who should decide on these matters?
Contemporary empirical field data to address these questions is not plentiful since only two countries have unelected religious clerics in parliament.
Iran, being a theocracy, is one.
Consider the other one — Yes, the United Kingdom. Something for Indian secularists who look to the West for inspiration to chew on!
The House of Lords boasts 26 unelected ex-officio Bishop Parliamentarians, the so called “Lords Spiritual”, representatives of the holy trinity and the established Church of England (CofE).
Custodians of morality, who the UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson described as “clerical fossils” , have full parliamentary rights, which no other religious group in the UK enjoys, to bring forward proposals, to debate, to intervene on government plans, and to vote on legislation. The bishop Lords are a medieval legacy of a confessional state, they exercise discriminatory religious privilege, wield political power, and exert influence on policy which no government or opposition can ignore.
Bishops lead Christian prayers each day at the start of parliamentary business . Those MPs who object to this religious practice sometimes miss the opportunity to attend and speak at important debates, because limited seats are already occupied by the pious who will not shift, especially when business that impacts on “moral” issues such as abortion, gender equality, gay rights, or the role of religion is on the agenda.
Contrast the mocking that Modi receives from the press for performing Aarti  whilst they proffer sundry justifications for the activities of a fly-by-night janeu-dhari Hindu   or under-the-radar-high-security Homa and Havan puja at a state Vidhana Soudha by saviours of secular politics .
If this is not enough for Indian secularists, then let them consider that the UK provides for and recognises the special position of the established CofE: “with the agreement of Parliament, it does not legislate over and above or directly at the CofE, … rather (Parliament) receive(s) the measures that the Church has thought fit to pass” .
The moral superiority of the Lords Spiritual  to declare on matters local and global is unparalleled. An institution whose own research says that ‘Anglicans are dying out’ , claims that it is “still a major part of the glue that holds society together”. To convince its faithful of its relevance, its leaders celebrate victories such as the “attempt to introduce assisted suicide was crushingly defeated in Parliament” and being “exempted from the same sex marriage act, showing that our voice is still heard against the prevailing wind of our society”.
How about this one, which all Indian secularists will surely have cause to celebrate: the CofE acting as “a primary source of leadership for communities, to the dismay of the secularists”  .
The Right Rev. Lord Harries of Pentregarth, former Bishop of Oxford, and the evangelical darling of Christian “Dalits”, took time out from regular bouts of India and especially Hindu bashing  to declare that “Parliament is accountable not only to the electorate but to God” . Such advocates of evangelism — bishops and others — freely use the UK parliament for extra-legislative, fact-free, sanctimonious lectures and warnings, demanding “tolerance” from India’s pagan Hindus in a manner unique and unlike any applied to others.
Perhaps, such attitudes are exactly in line with the Indian secularists’ sentiments, for they are seemingly forgiven their ungodliness by otherwise anti-secular bishops and their parliamentary friends because they are useful fodder to use against “Hindu extremists,” and purveyors of “Hindu-inflicted violence” .
More food for thought for Indian secularists:
The church sees its role as “…not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead, the Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country” . This concern for most other religions is so great that even 10 years ago, an archbishop was driven to offer support for sharia law, commenting that it was “unavoidable” , even though some defended him as “a serious scholar” and to “appreciate his (sic) careful and nuanced reflections” .
The CofE may be increasingly irrelevant to British society   yet, apparently, without a hint of contradiction, Archbishop Welby maintains that, ‘in the general sense of being founded on Christian faith, this is a Christian country’ . And, as if in a show against the underlying secular fabric of British life, the CofE buttresses its privilege by assuming to speak for all religions, implying tacit support from minority religious communities in what has been referred to as “Anglican multifaithism” .
In response to long-held arguments against Church privilege, namely that clergy must have no role in parliament , some in the CofE suggest that other faith groups too should be represented, but without clearly explaining how this would lead to better governance, nor how it would curtail the increasing incidence of sectarian squabbling and a visible rise in socially divisive demands. To date, no political party in government has shown appetite to tackle this discriminatory anomaly.
Instead, Church influence in policy is palpable by the fact that the government appointed Commission on Religion and Belief (CORAB) have made recommendations for more faith representation “in national forums such as the House of Lords” and extending the “schools … curriculum about religion…” . It is beyond belief that even greater influence of competing and dogmatic religious beliefs is being promoted in a country where the majority have dismissed belief of any sort. But paradoxically, this is unsurprising since any challenge to entrenched religious privilege is met with platitudes and homilies about diversity and divinely sanctioned “morality” and “freedom”.
Whilst there really are genuinely nice and honourable individuals at all levels, including bishops, and from across all faiths, that one meets in multifaith forums, British Hindus are implicitly considered distinct and “different”; sometimes treated with curiosity and mild contempt by a united front of otherwise squabbling monotheisms . Whilst “living with difference” and “hope, not hate” mantras spring at every terrorist outrage and are to be commended for community cohesion, the Hindu, being polytheist, pantheist, pagan and therefore a downright non-believer and the child of lesser, false gods, has to contend with suspicion-filled private probing, and public accusation in the Lords, the media, and elsewhere of being a “caste” racist .
“Multifaithism”, as practiced and percolated from the House of Lords downward, has an implied pecking order it would seem: all religions are equal, but some are more equal than others.
A little more for Indian secularists to ponder:
A quarter of UK schools are run by the CofE, and every fourth child attends a faith school, which amounts to a tax funded Protestant Christian near-monopoly meant to provide a 21st century education for a secularised society .
Christianity does not stop at CofE schools. Ingrained in the school curriculum and ordained by law, is the imposition of a daily act of compulsory collective worship which must be “wholly or broadly Christian”, which applies not just to CofE schools, but also to the two-thirds of all schools that are non-faith and therefore secular. In comparison, all the non-CofE faith schools are permitted to set their own policy on religious instruction and worship  . Only those few schools whose overwhelming demographics constitute a majority of other faith systems, seek permission to opt out of Christian worship and replace it with their own. In practice, this avenue has nearly always only been exercised and granted to schools with a majority Muslim demographic. However, in the case of the overwhelming majority of schools which have mixed intakes, parents who choose not to have their children subjected to monotheist morality have to explicitly apply for permission to be exempted from collective worship.
Government initiatives under the guise of “parental choice” and “improving educational standards”, which supporters of faith schools vociferously endorse, has merely emboldened the CofE to wrest control of previously non-religious schools , even though there isn’t conclusive evidence to suggest that faith schools are academically better .
The CofE is now the largest player within the “academy free school” space and it also promotes the growth of faith schools of other religions. Significantly, it maintains a privileged position in the formulation of the compulsory Religious Education curriculum at national and local levels with includes a statutory duty for it to be “broadly Christian”. Whilst faith schools of other faiths are free to set their own policies, all non-faith schools are expected to comply to this “broadly Christian” curriculum. The CORAB report  also points to this conclusion.
Unlike many minority Christian denominations that do not reciprocate CofE overtures of “inclusion”, some Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus have embraced “multifaithism”. Supporting the creation of an assortment of other-faith schools serves to preserve CofE privilege. Leaders of the small number of other-faith schools  self-congratulate themselves, satisfied with a few crumbs from the top table, happy to be “part of the system”: running their “own faith school” is the pinnacle of achievement.
Such are the means by which an institution which has “a values gap between its leadership and its remaining members” and “has become generally ‘a toxic brand’ to young people”  is not only allowed to determine the education of a substantial proportion of the nation’s young people, but to also shape education policy.
But these other-faith schools are not without controversy: followers of some traditions are integrated enough into British society so as not to demand separate “faith” schools, or are demographically distributed across the UK that they do not have “critical mass” to plead their own faith schools. The overwhelming majority of Hindus belong in this group, and there being no widespread clamour, it seems that “faith-schools” are irrelevant to them. For such groups, the odd school is too fringe, and amounts to little of significance to make any difference either to group identity or to British society.
In contrast, other minority religious traditions, demographically concentrated in urban areas, have had much higher numbers of their “faith” schools funded by the state. However, some of these have been found to diverge from “British values” on matters such as creationism, co-education, gender equality, sex education, superiority of religious law and religious plurality that, were it not for political correctness, more might be sanctioned as inadequate. The risks of creating “silos of segregation” which further impede social cohesion  are simply skirted.
“Multifaithism” also makes it easier to defend the discriminatory practices in schools’ staffing and admissions policies, based on such credentials as belief and baptism, which even minority-faith schools are permitted to promulgate. Any attempts at improving diversity by recruiting from outside the faith and limiting the proportion of students from within the defining faith of the school get stymied by political machinations. Indeed, of late, formal complaints relating to “faith-based admissions arrangements (have been) the biggest reason for complaints to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator”, and are set to increase in line with the growth of the faith sector 
The tragedy of equality, “multifaithism” style, is that it equally permits all faiths schools to carry on discriminatory practices . Thereby, the majority secular citizenry is not just discriminated, but barriers are put against attempts to establish non-religious schools .
Pagan’s Progress: The road to Tirumala
What of the pagan’s progress to Tirumala? After a fleeting delve into the story of Tirumala chief priest Ramana Deekshitulu’s dismissal, the mainstream Indian media reverted to the usual recipe: headline grabbing bishops ventilating about “dangers to our constitution”, “praying for secularism” and regime change, inanities from attention-seeking B rate TV starlets, and the collective heartburn for C journalists triggered as a response to a former president’s attendance at an RSS event.
The Indian media take great joy in reminding all that Tirumala is one of the richest Hindu temples in the world, nor are they shy to project the age-old sacred Hindu relics, jewellery, murtis, and other precious endowments as crude, unholy examples of “material” perversion and wealth. In their secular framework, just like temple lands and income, these too should be (and often are) used for the “social improvement” and enriching politicians and their appointed officials. This peculiarly Indian secular character prohibits intellectual inquiry and comparison of temple wealth with that of other, powerful, and even wealthier religious organisations in India and abroad.
Still more inconvenient facts for the Indian secularist to reflect on, though more can be found at these excellent references  :
Tirumala the Hindu pagan cash cow, kept only barely alive so that it can be continually bled in the service of a superior secular god, is simply a metaphor for pagan Hindu temples across India.
In the same way, the non-existent, state-supported Hindu Dharmic pathshala is a metaphor for non-existent pagan religious school privilege in India.
Hindu temples are under the direct control of state governments. This means that all temple boards are political appointments, which include non-Hindus, and some who hold a declared anti-Hindu position  . The Hindu stakeholders of the temple – devotees, lay public, the presiding priests, and the local community have little say, if at all, in matters of staff employment, upkeep and use or disposal of temple property, or the management and allocation of temple funds to projects that the temple stakeholders would consider priorities. Indeed, significant temple revenues are purloined by government to fund political projects or diverted to favoured minorities. On top of this, Hindu temples are subject to income tax as if they were businesses, a burden not imposed on any other religion in India.
All the prominent historic temples are considered as “monuments,” and as such are in the “care” of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), whose officials decide on maintenance and development of Hindu sacred lands and properties. In contrast, equally prominent “monuments” of other religions are independent from the state, free to decide on their administration, financial management, and use of properties and income, but still receive state doles in the form of religious and general employee salaries, as well as tax breaks and funding of major repairs. Added to this are multiple examples of generous government land grants to favoured minorities: land grabs and illegal encroachment of public land, instead of being prosecuted by law, are often overlooked through de-facto acceptance by government . In return for such state-sponsored aid, some of these institutions even blatantly dismiss civic principles and public duties like settling bills for state-provided electricity.
On the education front, Tirumala and thousands of other Hindu temples are not free either: finding a state-funded, independently managed pathshala in the only culture-land of the pagan Hindus is like striking gold in rocking-horse dung. Neither exists.
Government has given itself the right to interfere only in the running of Hindu educational establishments. Only these establishments are subject to restrictions on curriculum content and are prohibited from discrimination in the hiring of staff, and student admissions. Indian secularism legislates that “minority” religions not only get government funding and exemption from “oversight” on curriculum and academic standards, but they can discriminate against the Hindu majority without fear.
In India, behold the privilege that a minority secular theocracy exercises. Imposed on citizens, as only a doctrine founded on a confessional theology can be, it is the only way to explain the treatment of Tirumala in Hindu majority India.
In the UK, hail the religious privilege and exalted position of a dwindling religious minority and “multifaithism” as antidote against a real, inclusive secular majority.
How uncanny the resemblance of the privilege of Indian secularists and their genetic religious forebear, the Church? Both are minorities and enjoy state-sponsored privilege to wield power upon majorities.
Both play versions of the “Secular-Multifaith” game:
- Embrace and assume to speak for otherwise conservative religious minorities who would actually want nothing to do with either secularism or “multifaithism”.
- Offer crumbs from the top table but keep minorities in their place whilst retaining a monopoly.
- Take a high moral position against the “forces of majoritarianism”, whether they are the populist unwashed of “little-Britain” or the “village-Hindu” in India: both majorities are routinely derided for making “wrong electoral choices” .
Both boast of religious freedom but do not countenance religious equality, pretending that freedom and equality are the same.
Poor Tharoor, a self-promoted prototype arty-nouveau-secular-schizophrenic Hindu, fails to convince the garden-variety village Hindu, and gets bashed by his fitful fellow-travellers — the “intellectuals” — for not being secular enough.
The lateral mirror images of the two could not be starker: secularism reflects multifaithism and vice versa. How utterly bizarre that the UK secularists, and even sociologists, who are normally critical of privilege, find ways of defending it at home  and then readily side with the spokesmen of monotheist minorities in India. How utterly predictable that UK evangelists ally with their otherwise mortal-enemy, the secularists, simply because these secularists are in India, and fighting the pagan Hindu.
“Secular-Multifaith” may be a dwindling body, but its influence and power are not waning. How long will this last? The wicket is worn, so the experts ponder: how will the game unfold in the fourth innings?
Will the toxic, unholy alliance between the godless and purveyors of the “one true god” continue with their unabated curiosity and contempt for the pagan?
Tirumala’s Gopuram may be bedecked in gold, but for the pagan Hindu, the Road to Tirumala is fraught, strewn with thorns, and pot-holed like the streets of Bengaluru.
Notes and References
[All web links last access on 11 June 2018.]
- Shashi Tharoor takes pride in sharing platforms with bishops yet has an aversion to Hinduism https://twitter.com/ShashiTharoor/status/929181406533525504
- Jaganathan’s review in Swarajya Magazine, “Shashi Tharoor’s ‘Why I Am A Hindu’ Is Driven By A Degree Of Schizophrenia On Hinduism”, https://swarajyamag.com/books/shashi-tharoors-why-i-am-a-hindu-is-driven-by-a-degree-of-schizophrenia-on-hinduism – As Jaganathan notes, this is Tharoor’s “attempt to tenuously like his own interpretation of Hinduism’s eclectic pluralism from the viewpoint of a ‘secular’ Congress politician, with a tired, old polemical view to rubbish and delegitimise Hindutva”.
- Charmy Harikrishnan (2018) “Hinduism of caste system shows how blind the privileged can be”, Updated: Mar 17, 2018, 11.28 PM IST, in Economic Times at https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/tharoors-attempt-to-absolve-hinduism-of-caste-system-shows-how-blind-the-privileged-can-be/articleshow/63347655.cms
- Krishna N. Das (2018), “Delhi archbishop warns of threat to India’s secular fabric, triggering BJP rebuke”, 22 May 2018, Reuters Report at https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-india-politics-archbishop/delhi-archbishop-warns-of-threat-to-indias-secular-fabric-triggering-bjp-rebuke-idUKKCN1IN0YU
- Debayan Roy (2018), “’Nothing to Do With Modi’: Delhi Archbishop Defends Letter Calling for Prayers, Fasting Before 2019”, on com, Updated: May 22, 2018: This report and others like it illustrate that Indian English language media uses the cover of secularism: bishops are treated with kid gloves – https://www.news18.com/news/india/nothing-to-do-with-modi-govt-delhi-archbishop-defends-letter-calling-for-prayers-fasting-before-2019-1755787.html
- “Nationalist outrage in India after archbishop defends secularism”, Posted: Thu, 24 May 2018 12:18 at https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2018/05/nationalist-outrage-in-india-after-archbishop-defends-secularism – it is a strange brew when the National Secular Society which claims to speak against religious separatism do not conduct due diligence to corroborate stories promoted by overt supporters of Christian proselytization and communists alike but merely repeat lies of “lynchings of Muslims and ‘lower-caste’ victims” and reporting as new news what has been part of Indian law for decades by implying that “Indian states have also passed anti-conversion laws…”
- The Church of England in Parliament, https://churchinparliament.org/about-the-lords-spiritual/
- Rebecca Perring (2015), “Boris Johnson: ‘Sharia law in the UK is absolutely unacceptable’”, published in the Daily Express website, 24 March 2015, see https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/566111/Boris-Johnson-Sharia-law-UK-absolutely-unacceptable-Islamic-legal-code
- Naina Chaturvedi, “PM Modi And Shinzo Abe Witness Ganga Aarti At Varanasi With Shlokas and Selfies”, 13/12/2015 8:44 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST. Neither the headline nor the tone of the story would be used for a Muslim or a Christian ceremony, to quote: “When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended Varanasi’s spectacular Ganga Aarti … there were chants of ‘Har Har Mahadev’ everywhere, there were diyas, the sound of conch shells and shlokas. And, there were selfies…” at https://www.huffingtonpost.in/2015/12/13/shinzo_0_n_8796892.html
- Congress defends Rahul Gandhi: He is Hindu – sacred thread-wearing Hindu, published in the Indian Express 30 November 2017, see http://indianexpress.com/article/india/congress-defends-rahul-gandhi-he-is-hindu-sacred-thread-wearing-hindu-4961133/
- Virendra Kapoor (2107), “The choti is missing from janeu-dhari Rahul’s head”, published 3 December 2017, at https://www.sundayguardianlive.com/opinion/11874-choti-missing-janeu-dhari-rahul-s-head
- Deccan Herald 3 June 2018, “DyCM’s wife performas Puja at his Vidhan Soudha amid security”, in Deccan Herald website at https://www.deccanherald.com/state/dycms-wife-performs-puja-his-soudha-office-amid-security-673202.html
- Hansard, 15 December 2015, col. 1427-28, https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldhansrd/text/111215-0001.htm Lord Cormack: “We have a specific provision in this country for the established Church of England, as has been referred to by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Blackburn. With the agreement of Parliament, we do not legislate over and above, or directly at, the Church of England; rather, we receive the measures that the church-initially through the Church Assembly but in more recent years through the General Synod-has thought fit to pass. Those measures come before the Ecclesiastical Committee, on which I had the privilege to sit for some 40 years…”
- Bob Morris (2014), “Is Britain a Christian country and, whatever the case, what then?”, Posted on April 25, 2014 by Bob Morris https://constitution-unit.com/2014/04/25/is-britain-a-christian-country-and-whatever-the-case-what-then/
- Madeline Davies (2016), “Our divisions are an obscenity, Welby tells primates”, 12 January 2016, in https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2016/15-january/news/uk/our-divisions-are-an-obscenity-welby-tells-primates Our divisions are an obscenity, Welby tells Primates
- Clive D. Fled (2014), “Church of England Health Check and Other News”, posted on 14 February 2014 at http://www.brin.ac.uk/2014/church-of-england-health-check-and-other-news/ a relevant quote from this report – “Professor Linda Woodhead who examined (pp. 21-2) the Church’s statistics of ministry for 2012, concluding that ‘there are no longer enough troupers left to keep the show on the road, and the show will have to change’ “
- Jay Jina and Prakash Shah (2016), “The anti-Hindu streak in British politics: The House of Lords on religious freedom in India”, published 11 April 2016, see https://www.dailyo.in/politics/hinduism-islam-narendra-modi-rss-bjp-britain-intolerance-jnu-religious-freedom-pakistan/story/1/10134.html
- Johann Hari (2011), “Get bishops out of our law-making”, published 18 February 2011, The Independent, https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-get-bishops-out-of-our-law-making-2218130.html
- Riazat Butt (2008), “Archbishop backs sharia law for British Muslims”, published 7 February 2008, see link at https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2008/feb/07/religion.world
- Tina Beattie (2008), “Rowan Williams and sharia law”, published in Open Democracy, 12 February 2008, see https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/faith_ideas/europe_islam/sharia_law_uk – a defence of Rowan Williams as presented here as, according to the writer, the Archbishop “conveys the sense of a serious scholar revelling in a rare opportunity (even for the Archbishop of Canterbury) to explore ideas of some intellectual complexity in a public forum. Even for those accustomed to reading academic papers, it is a densely argued, perhaps unnecessarily convoluted exercise in postmodern jurisprudence….” The full text of the lecture – available on Rowan Williams’s
- Alexandra Sims (2016), “People with no religion exceeding Christians in England and Wales, says study”, in The Independent, 23 May 2016, “the UK in now officially a nation where Christians are a minority… the majority of citizens profess no religion or belief. Yet the established Church of England (CofE) continues to maintain its centuries old privileges in the nation’s public life”. See https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/people-with-no-religion-exceeding-christians-in-england-and-wales-says-study-a7044331.html
- John Bingham (2014), “Archbishop: Britain not a ‘Christian country’ – if judging by numbers in the pews”, published in The Daily Telegraph, 24 April 2014, at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10784833/Archbishop-Britain-not-a-Christian-country-if-judging-by-numbers-in-the-pews.html
- “Anglican Multifaithism” was coined by Norman Bonney, and, according to Bob Morris  above says about the Archbishop, “Characterising objectors as atheists, he pointed to Muslim, Hindu and Sikh support for the Prime Minister’s remarks. This claim, which has been called ‘Anglican multifaithism’ [N. Bonney (2013) Monarchy, religion and the state], is a trope employed by Anglicans to assume a new role and purport to speak for the interests of all religions. On offer is an implied conduit into government valued apparently by a number of non-Christian faiths but not willingly by minority Christian denominations.”
- “Call for fewer Church of England bishops in the House of Lords”, BBC News, 7 December 2015, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-35022517 – this news item reported that the National Secular Society criticised the CORAB findings, saying it was full of “handwringing but few concrete solutions”. Also, according to the report, “The government has said reform of the House of Lords is not a priority after attempts by its coalition predecessor to make the chamber partly elected were abandoned in 2013 amid opposition from Tory MPs and peers”.
- CORAB Report (2015), Report of the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Life, “Living with Difference, Community, Diversity and the Common Good”, https://corablivingwithdifference.com/ and https://corablivingwithdifference.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/living-with-difference-online.pdf
- The “caste consultation” and the prevailing debates in the media and in multi-faith forums have left a bad taste among Hindus, amounting to acts of bad faith by prominent faith groups. Whereas the response to real acts of terrorism in the UK have rightly led to unity and solidarity in support of Muslim communities, Hindus have had little support in attempts to even make a case against being labelled racists without any compelling evidence. Indeed, some prominent church fronted organisations have been actively pursuing an anti-Hindu agenda. For more details on this see Jay Jina (2017), “How the Distorted Views On ‘Caste’ Are Affecting British Hindu Society”, January 22, 2017, in Swarajya Magazine https://swarajyamag.com/books/how-the-distorted-views-on-caste-are-affecting-british-hindu-society
- Robert Long and Paul Bolton (2018), “Faith Schools in England: FAQs”, House of Commons Briefing Paper, Number 06972, 6 June 2018, http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN06972/SN06972.pdf
- Racheal Pells (2016), “Faith schools academically ‘no better’ than any others, major new report suggests”, published in the Independent, 2nd December, 2016, which reported that “Government plans to encourage more faith schools to open ‘would come at the price of increased social segregation’, Education Policy Institute warns”, see https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/faith-schools-academically-no-better-than-any-others-epi-report-religion-catholic-church-england-a7451676.html
- UK Education Reform Act, 1988, http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/40/section/7/enacted see also the British Humanism site’s paper on Church and State in the UK at https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/BHA-Article-on-Church-and-State-in-the-UK.pdf
- Various reports of the CofE taking over non-faith schools are on record, these are examples from the National Secular Society: https://www.secularism.org.uk/news/2016/03/four-newcastle-schools-facing-church-of-england-takeover and Humanists UK: https://humanism.org.uk/2016/09/07/exposed-religious-organisations-gain-control-over-hundreds-of-state-schools/ a
- Stephen Evans (2016) “In Modern Britain, Tradition Is No Reason to Cling to Religious Privilege”, 26/05/2016 13:20 BST, Updated 27/05/2017 06:12 BST https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/stephen-evans/religious-privilege_b_10141692.html – to quote from this report: “Our failure to call time on church schools has led to vast swathes of public money being handed to minority religious groups to pen ‘their’ schools, creating silos of segregation and further impeding social cohesion”.
- Eleanor Busby (2017), “Faith schools: Complaints over admissions rise as number of selective religious schools set to increase”, in The Independent, 26th February 2018, which has reported that “faith-based admissions arrangements were the biggest reason for complaints to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) over the past 12 months.” And that, “critics have warned that allowing new faith schools to take fewer pupils from different backgrounds “will only make a bad situation worse”. See https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/faith-school-admissions-selective-conservatives-cap-a8225796.html
- Humanism UK Report (2017) “Church of England seeks to privilege clergy over local parents in school admissions system”, July 10th 2017 https://humanism.org.uk/2017/07/10/church-of-england-seeks-to-privilege-clergy-over-local-parents-in-school-admissions-system/
- Anushka Asthana (2007), “Crisis of faith in first secular school”, Sunday, 23 September 2007, in The Observer, https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2007/sep/23/schools.faithschools According to the report, the school headteacher was told by a Department of Education official that establishing non-religious education would be ‘politically impossible’ and “that bishops in the House of Lords and ministers would block the plans. ‘Religion’, they added, was ‘technically embedded’ in many aspects of education”.
- Swarajya staff (2016), “Why we need to free Hindu Temples from government control”, published October 21, 2016, see : http://swarajyamag.com/culture/why-we-need-to-free-hindu-temples-from-government-control
- Rahul Dewan (2017), “FAQ : “Everything you wanted to know about the ‘Freeing Hindu Temples From Govt Control’ campaign”, January 7 2017, https://medium.com/freeing-hindu-temples-from-govt-control/faq-everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-the-freeing-hindu-temples-from-govt-control-campaign-90787d7eff50 Additionally, to understand the historic context of how these inequities came to be established in law, refer to this India Facts article — http://indiafacts.org/temples-and-the-state-in-the-indian-tradition-part-8/ — which explains the gory details of the colonial and post-independence history of subversion of Hindu temples.
- New Indian Express Report on “Andhra Pradesh Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam trust board appointments”, 21 April 2018, http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2018/apr/21/andhra-pradesh-new-tirumala-tirupati-devasthanams-trust-board-has-a-few-surprise-picks-1804420.html
- Sujit Nath (2018), “BJP Slams Mamata’s Decision to Appoint Muslim Leader as Head of Tarakeshwar Development Board” on news18 site – such appointments are nothing new, this is just one of the most recent examples https://www.news18.com/news/politics/bjp-slams-mamatas-decision-to-appoint-muslim-leader-as-head-of-tarakeshwar-development-board-1438087.html
- Madhu Purnima Kishwar (2018), “Why Christian Missionaries Hate Modi And RSS So Much”, in Swarajya Magazine, 2nd June 2018, https://swarajyamag.com/magazine/the-gujarat-agenda-why-christian-missionaries-hate-modi-and-rss-so-much
- There are several examples of the “intellectuals” scorning the electorate’s choices in both India and the UK. Recent examples include the protracted negative press coverage of the electors of the BJP’s Yogi Aditaynath in Uttar Pradesh and the swathes of the working class in the north and the Midlands of England who voted in favour of Brexit.
- Robert Hazell and Bob Morris (2016), “The Queen at 90: the changing role of the monarchy, and future challenges”, University College London , June 2016, website at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit/publications/tabs/unit-publications/170 to quote the authors, they say: “The classic defence of this arrangement is that of the sociologist, Tariq Modood: … the minimal nature of an Anglican establishment, its proven openness to other denominations and faiths seeking public space, and the fact that its very existence is an ongoing acknowledgment of the public character of religion, are all reasons why it may seem far less intimidating to the minority faiths than a triumphal secularism”, quoted from T. Modood, ‘Establishment, Multiculturalism and Citizenship’, Political Quarterly 65:1 (1994), pp.72-73
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