Sir Peter Bottomley wrote in the Worthing Herald recently he hopes for a closer relationship between the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, but realistically I can’t see that ever happening.
I was brought up in the CofE, like most people, and simply stopped believing in god as a teenager but kept it to myself for decades. I’m connected to the Catholic church through my sister’s marriage and conversion over 50 years ago. Not until years later I understood there was a hidden agenda when a cousin, also an RC convert, callously told me my sister had ‘divorced’ her birth family.
I listened in stunned silence. This explained the estrangement and why I was repeatedly told I couldn’t be a family member because I don’t ‘respect’ my sister’s husband and his religion. He now sits in the House of Lords. But respect is a two way process and I felt compelled to finally take a stand against the bullying wherever it comes from. The estrangement wasn’t caused by anything I had said or did and in 2008 I tried to mend the rift a second time but after being rejected again I’d had enough of the moralising and the malicious lies spread around about me.
It was then I decided to become an activist and join the National Secular Society, after which I began to inform myself about religions and the RCC in particular, as my knowledge was limited. The NSS challenges religious privilege and campaigns for the separation of Church and State/politics: a secular state with equal rights for all - believers and unbelievers. I’m proud to be a member of the NSS and this year the organisation is celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding by Charles Bradlaugh in 1866.
I support the view of the NSS that faith schools, of any religious persuasion, fuel difference and sectarian conflict, thus creating division in families and a ’them’ and ‘us’ attitude in society. I heard a prominent female writer just this week on BBC Radio 4 say she was raised a Catholic and was taught at her school that their god was superior to the other Christian god, presumably Protestant, the sect I happened to be born into. Teaching this idea to children is irresponsible and potentially dangerous brainwashing. But that comment did explain the arrogant and narcissistic behaviour I’d been subjected to for all these years since the 1960s.
I’m not the problem. I am a victim the same as my sister. She is forced to ask her husband’s permission before she can say or do anything. At the heart of the problem lies the misogynistic controlling RCC in which women are controlled by men; they are treated as inferior beings with disrespect and no rights over their own bodies and lives. Only relatively recently I fully understood the reasons for the estrangement and to recognise it as domestic emotional/mental abuse and cruel abandonment that is explained in this document: Universal Declaration of Human Rights The Christian Church and family values. As long as the RCC remains hostile to criticism, discriminates against women and teaches intolerance of anyone not of their culture and viewpoint, how can there ever be a reconciliation in my extended family and indeed in the wider Christian church?
People have become sick and tired of religious conflict and wars. Today many more people are educated and with easy access to knowledge/information this could be the reason for the sharp decline in church going.
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