Religion Has No Place in Our Politics

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), June 8, 2007 | Go to article overview

Religion Has No Place in Our Politics


Byline: Joan Burnie

IF any MP thinks his or her personal religious convictions are more important than their duty to represent their constituents of all faiths or none, they should quit politics for the pulpit.

For anyone - cardinal, mullah, rabbi, minister or whoever - to tell them differently is wrong.

That is one reason why I oppose Cardinal Keith O'Brien and other Catholic leaders' intemperate remarks about abortion.

I do not know my own MP's religion. It is irrelevant.

Or at least it should be. We elect our MPs on the basis of their parties' manifestos, not their churches'.

If the Roman Catholic hierarchy or indeed the Muslims, Wee Frees or Satanists want to go to Westminster purely to promote their various beliefs, then that is the platform on which they must stand.

Not that any of them would be elected, but it would at least be honest. Trying to sneak in under cover of being Labour, Tory, Lib Dem or Nat is not.

But I also object to the emotive way in which Cardinal O'Brien in particular couched his remarks.

He compared it to bloody murder, to the Dunblane massacre.

I don't talk very often about my personal life. But I have two children and I have also had two miscarriages.

The pain of the latter events at a fairly early stage in the pregnancies could not, and should not, ever be compared to the raw anguish of losing a living, breathing five-year-old.

And how dare anyone, not least someone without the slightest understanding of what it is to be a parent, suggest they are the same.

Few people are pro-abortion.

It is always a failure but the latest opinion poll indicates that two-thirds of us still believe that if a woman feels unable to proceed with a pregnancy she should be allowed to end it.

Then she must live with her conscience as best she can. And, despite the cardinal, most do.

Nor should we pretend there was no abortion in this country before the 1967 Act.

The rich always managed to buy themselves a convenient D and C or an emergency "appendectomy". …

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