Britain's most senior Roman Catholic cardinal gave a stern warning earlier this week against the dangers of secularism and claimed that secular values fostered violence and helped establish the totalitarian regimes that killed millions in the 20th century.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who stepped down as leader of England's Catholics three years ago, warned during a speech in front of other Catholics in Leicester, England, that the rise of atheism in Britain is "very, very dangerous" and accused secularists of trying to drive Christianity out of the country.
"In the name of tolerance it seems to me tolerance is being abolished," Murphy-O'Connor stressed. He presented as evidence the British government's attempts to redefine the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman to include same-sex couples. Both Catholic and Anglican officials in Britain remain opposed to this movement, but the steady rise of secularism in the nation may pave the way for such plans to become a reality.
"Our danger in Britain today is that so-called Western reason claims that it alone has recognized what is right and thus claims totality that is inimical to freedom," the 79-year-old Murphy-O'Connor stated, according to The Daily Mail.
"No one is forced to be a Christian. But no one should be forced to live according to the new secular religion as if it alone were definitive and obligatory for all humankind,"
"The propaganda of secularism and its high priests want us to believe that religion is dangerous for our health. It suits them to have no opposition to their vision of a brave new world, the world which they see as somehow governed only by people like themselves. They conveniently forget that secularism itself does not guarantee freedom, rationality ... or violence. Indeed, in the last century, most violence was perpetrated by secular states on their own people," he added.
Concerns discussed at the meeting of Catholics involved what many Christians see as efforts by secularists to push Christianity to the margins of public life.
Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor shared that he does not believe Christians should be "anti-gay," but insisted that the issue of same-sex marriage is not about prejudice against gays.
"It was a more subtle issue, namely about democracy and the nature of marriage itself," he explained. "On what grounds does a minority have the right to change the meaning of a fundamental institution for the majority?"
Different reports exist on the state of Christianity in Britain. Although a 2011 national census found that 75 percent of U.K. residents still consider themselves Christian, a poll led by atheist Richard Dawkins showed that nearly three quarters of Christians in Britain believe religion should have no role in crafting public policy, while almost two-thirds believe same-sex couples should receive every right that heterosexual couples are given.
"Britain is a secular society, with secular, humane values," Dawkins stated. "There is overwhelming support for these values, even among those who think of themselves as Christian."