More from the editor of the UK magazine Spiked, Brendan O’Neill, on the “hysterical” campaign to arrest the Pope. O’Neill describes himself as an “atheistic libertarian” and is a quasi-Marxist:
The New Atheist campaign to have Pope Benedict XVI arrested when he
visits Britain later this year exposes the deeply disturbing,
authoritarian and even Inquisitorial side to today’s campaigning
secularism. There is nothing remotely positive in the demand that
British cops lock up the pope and then drag him to some international
court on charges of ‘crimes against humanity’. Instead it springs from
an increasingly desperate and discombobulated secularism, one which,
unable to assert itself positively through Enlightening society and
celebrating the achievements of mankind, asserts itself negatively,
even repressively, through ridiculing the religious…
The reason this crusade is so hysterical is because it is not really
about the pope at all – it is about the New Atheists themselves. The
contemporary pope-hunting springs from a secularist movement which
feels incapable of asserting a sense of purpose or meaning in any
positive, human-centred way – as the great atheists
of old such as Marx or Darwin might have done – and which instead can
only assert itself negatively, in contrast to the ‘evil’ of religion,
by posturing against the alleged wickedness of institutionalised faith.
It is the inner emptiness, directionless and soullessness of
contemporary secularism – in contrast to earlier, Enlightened and more
positive secular movements – which has given birth to the bizarre
clamour for the pope’s head.
This restores my faith in atheism.