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Mixing religion and politics is a recipe for conflict writes Morning Star political editor John Haylett. 

The head of the established Anglican church threw her weight this week behind an ideological offensive to reaffirm the church-state relationship and the prominence of Christianity in public life.
First, Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles attacked a sensible High Court decision that Christian prayers should not be part of the formal agenda of Bideford Town Council.
Then, after David Cameron and Baroness Warsi had insisted on prominence for religion in politics, the Church of England supreme governor threw in her twopenn'orth to rewrite its role in history.
The Queen told a multifaith gathering in Lambeth Palace that the church had "a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths" and had "gently and assuredly" created an environment for other faith communities and people of none to live freely.
She has either no concept of this country's history or is counting on popular amnesia to enable her sleight of tongue to pass unchallenged.
It is not simply a matter of anti-Catholic legislation, as in the longstanding ban on monarchs marrying a Catholic, but also traditional victimisation by the church, especially in rural areas, of people who challenge the status quo.
The established church has had a symbiotic relationship with the monarchy, expressed in joint exercise of political power without mandate or accountability.
Contrary to the Queen's contentious claim about the C of E role in guaranteeing freedom of worship for all faiths, that freedom owes more to democratic secular struggles to weaken the grip of the established church on everyday life.
None of those struggles has been initiated by the church, but it claims credit for the benefits of an increasingly secular society in exactly the same way that the Tory Party, which has opposed every single democratic advance in history, boasts of universal suffrage and freedom of speech as though it were responsible for bestowing these gifts on a grateful people.
Cameron's speech to Anglican leaders in December defended the special role of the established church on the grounds that "Christianity, faith, religion, the Church and the Bible are all inherently involved in politics because so many political questions are moral questions."
This implies that C of E bishops have a greater capacity for moral judgements based on their faith than others with different value structures.
There is nothing wrong with religious leaders speaking out on political issues. We have all shared political platforms with representatives of various faiths and, doubtless, will continue to do so in a mutually respectful way.
But the idea that one religion should have a position in society deemed superior to other faiths and to those of no religion must be unacceptable to anyone who champions democracy.
Baroness Warsi's trip to the Vatican ought to have aroused questions in her own mind about the power enjoyed in many countries by the Catholic church where it enjoys state patronage.
The church enjoys property tax breaks worth €600 million a year in Italy, which are currently under challenge given the hardships suffered by Italian working people.
It also has a deserved reputation for tolerating and covering up the sexual abuse of thousands of children over decades by its clergy and refusing to co-operate with police investigating these crimes.
Church-state collaboration in Ireland not only denied women access for years to methods of controlling their own fertility but also perpetrated incarceration and forced labour on young women deemed guilty of moral lapses or mental incapacity through the Magdalene Laundries institution.
The church hierarchy that defended those who preyed on children and young women also denounced and threatened with excommunication priests in Latin America who associated themselves with the liberation theology movement there.
When Warsi urged a "confident affirmation of religion," asserting that "the values we hold and the things we fight for stem from ... centuries of Christianity," she should have acknowledged these most recent crimes, together with those of an internecine nature perpetrated between and within Christianity and Islam.
She did not, preferring to set up a series of straw men so as to knock them down and attacking "militant secularism," which she insisted was intrinsically intolerant.
Her comments illustrate her confusion over secularism and atheism.
Atheism is a non-belief in any supreme being while secularism insists on separation of church and state so that, while everyone would be free to profess and practise any faith, no religion or sect would have official predominance or protection.
Far from secularism being intolerant, it is the most effective guarantee of religious freedom.
Despite Pope Benedict's polite reception for the Tory Party chairwoman and her comment that "we stand side by side with the Pope in fighting for faith," the Catholic pontiff sees Christianity as threatened by both secularism and Islam.
And the slaughter perpetrated at present in various African countries, for example, indicates that the real threat to faith practitioners is more from adherents to other religions than from "militant" secularists.
Politicians' demands to reassert the special position of religion in society and especially in the realm of political decision-making are a recipe for conflict.
They do no favours to believers of any denomination.
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