A void at the heart of soulless technocracy

In an editorial on 4 December 2016, The Guardian view on Christianity in Britain: neither here nor there, the paper finds there to be "something very strange" going on. "The chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission feels he must tell employers it is OK to celebrate Christmas, and that this will not offend unbelievers. The prime minister announces in parliament that of course people should be able to speak freely about their religious convictions. A thinktank argues that there should be a duty of "reasonable accommodation" to religious belief. All these, the paper says, are symptoms of "a deep unease and confusion about the role of Christianity in British life."

The Guardian observes that Britain is largely secular and its population "largely indifferent to distinctively Christian beliefs, with "a growing hostility to the notion of ‘religion’ at all." On the other hand, to claim that Christians who are prevented from discriminating against gay people, for example, are thereby themselves discriminated against, "is hardly convincing."

All that said, "A compassionate society is one that treats its members compassionately. […] More subtly, the values of a society are developed and maintained by its institutions [of which] many will always be religious. It would be stupid and self-destructive to make such groups feel useless and unwanted. The nervousness over Christmas, or even over expressing religious belief, is an absurd expression of a real void at the heart of soulless technocracy.

Just so — in Australia as much as in the United Kingdom.