The Secular Party is not anti-religion in the sense that we believe that people should be free to indulge their beliefs, provided they do not infringe the rights of others. We support freedom of religion. We also recognise that, as with any freedom, there are inevitable limitations that must be applied to this freedom in support of the public good. We contend that religious practitioners err in presuming that the supposed authenticity of their beliefs gives rise to a right to impose their beliefs on others.
Belief in religion requires faith. Faith is not necessarily a virtue. Beliefs can be tested on the basis of reason and evidence. The Secular Party reserves the right to question beliefs, in a reasoned manner, as part of the political debate.
We concede that in providing psychological consolation and inspiring charitable works, religious belief and practice may be beneficial. We also contend that by invoking needless fear and guilt, in hindering progress, and in fostering social division and violence, religions are on balance harmful to society. We doubt they are necessary. In the 21st century we can aspire to do better.
The Secular Party seeks a harmonious and peaceful world. It is undeniable that some extremist religious beliefs can cause harm. We contend that it is not wrong to raise questions about the nature of belief, and that in some cases this must be done in order to seek to counter the harm that religions cause.
While in an ideal world we might prefer that all religious practices and freedoms should be conducted in private between consenting adults, we are realistic enough to accept that this will not be achieved. However we certainly think that curtailing government support, endorsement, subsidy and promotion of religion is possible. This is what we advocate.
On religion in particular, the time appears to me to have come, when it is a duty of all who, being qualified in point of knowledge, have, on mature consideration, satisfied themselves that the current opinions are not only false, but hurtful, to make their dissent known. John Stuart Mill