Peter Hitchens: And the other thing which is fascinating is the Equality Act of, gosh, was it 2000? Anyway, it was Harriet Harman who took it through with an awful lot of support from Theresa May (they had no choice, it was a European directive) but this legally declares that all religions are equal. So, if you have up until that point had a church by law established with special privileges and then you have a law saying “all religions are equal”, which means that actually Anglican Christianity has the same status as Islam Buddhism, Jainism; any other religion which cares to assert itself, then what you have effectively done is you’ve disestablished the Church. So, for instance, if a person who’s an Anglican Christian in a hospital or a local authority or any government body or any body which is doing contractual business with the government who does anything to promote Christianity at the expense of any other religion is legally in trouble. It has happened and what’s more the trade unions who would normally defend someone against persecution for dissenting political or religious views won’t help them. The Equality Act is a vital stage in formally de-Christianising Britain; a very interesting act.
On a cultural level, why do you think it’s so regrettable in a moral sense that Christianity has declined in this country.
Peter Hitchens: Well, I am a Christian believer. I would be odd if I didn’t think that the decline of Christian belief was a pity.
But from a moral stance, do you think that people still will tend to keep to a Christian idea of morality?
Peter Hitchens: I think a lot of people take a free ride on Christian ideas and morality. They pronounce certain things – my brother was very given to this. They denounce certain things as being really bad and really good, but when you ask them where their measuring stick is for this they can’t produce one, because what they’re actually using as a measuring stick is Christian standards, and fundamentally everything radiates out of the Sermon on the Mount and this is what is the difference between good and bad in most people’s minds. But the basis for that is religion and without it it doesn’t have any course. It’s building a house without a foundation; it won’t stand. Once morality is separated from eternity and becomes purely temporal then people will quite reasonably take decisions ad hoc and they will judge […] actions on their immediately observable effects. And once you’ve done that then there is no absolute good. That’s why you’ll find in almost all discourse now that people don’t talk about right and wrong, they’ll talk about appropriate and inappropriate. It’s not an accident. [If] relative morality work[s]on “Is this appropriate?” then the unstated [question] is “Is this appropriate for this time and place?” and also the even more unstated, “Is this appropriate for me?” Christian morality is “Is this right or is this wrong, regardless of what I want?” There’s the difference. And also it assumes that your heart is known by God and that therefore pretending to be good, which most of us are very good at, doesn’t work.
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