I like to think that I am a tolerant person. People have the right to believe in all sorts of things. Which is fine so long as they don't impose it on others. What I find hard to stomach is the smugness of some believers.
The centre of Manchester is over-run at present with Jehovah's Witnesses. I don't think I am exaggerating. You leave Victoria station and there they are, just outside the station and again on the path that goes past the Football Museum and Chetham's Music School, one or two on either side of the path. You see them again on Market Street and in Piccadilly Gardens.
They look glossy and well fed, standing by their portable bookcases, holding out copies of the Watch Tower magazine. The only thing in their favour is that they don't call out to passers-by but just stand there, secure in their belief. They make quite a contrast to the miserable homeless, even more ubiquitous, huddled on the pavements in their sleeping bags. I've not yet seen the JWs talking to the homeless but maybe I do them a disservice.
I seem to remember reading somewhere that it is a fundamental thing about the Jehovah' Witnesses that they are supposed to go out and spread the word. Okay, I can accept that. What I object to is the suggestion, not just from the JWs but from many confirmedly devout groups that it is not possible to be good without a belief in a supreme being. Oddly enough, belief in a supreme being does not seem to rule out being bad! I wonder how many good American Christians hold fast to their belief in the right to bear arms and, indeed, own a gun or two!
This morning I came across a news item about someone called Pat Robertson who wondered if President Obama and other Democrats may have participated in a grand conspiracy to bring down President Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned on Monday over his communications with Russia’s U.S. ambassador. Another good conspiracy story!
I read on and discovered that he believes God is on Trump's side.
Referring to a quotation to one of the psalms, "The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed”, Robertson said that those challenging Trump are really fighting against God:
"I think, somehow, the Lord’s plan is being put in place for America and these people are not only revolting against Trump, they’re revolting against what God’s plan is for America. These other people have been trying to destroy America. These left-wingers and so-called progressives are trying to destroy the country that we love and take away the freedoms they love. They want collectivism. They want socialism. What we’re looking at is free markets and freedom from this terrible, overarching bureaucracy. They want to fight as much as they can but I think the good news is the Bible says, “He that sits in the heavens will laugh them to scorn,” and I think that Trump’s someone on his side that is a lot more powerful than the media."
Well there you go!
Mr Robertson gives his views on The 700 Club, a long running series on the Christian Broadcasting Network in the USA. On the air since 1966, The 700 Club is one of the longest-running television series in broadcasting history! Amazing!
For a supposedly secularly governed country, the USA seems to set great store by its public Christianity. All presidents frequently say, "God Bless America". All right, that is gross-denominational, cross-religion but for most it implies the Christian God, I am pretty sure. We would be rather surprised to hear Theresa May suddenly ending speeches with, "God bless the UK".
And so I wondered where we stand on religious broadcasting and found put this stuff:
"British broadcasting laws prohibit religious organisations, political parties, local government and trade unions from running national analogue terrestrial stations. Some religious radio stations are available in certain areas on the MW (medium wave) or VHF (FM) wavebands; others transmit using other methods, some of them nationally (such as via digital terrestrial TV broadcasting, satellite and cable)."
I then found a list of ways to receive religious broadcasting in this country.
And my source of info ended with this:
"Although there are tight restrictions on religious groups setting up their own radio and TV stations, there is a legal requirement for the BBC and ITV to broadcast a certain amount of religious programming. Some commercial local radio stations carry a limited amount of religious programming, particularly in Northern Ireland and parts of Scotland"
So now we know.