Gail Walker, chief editor of the Belfast Telegraph, has perversely managed to turn the Pope’s visit into an attack on ‘aggressive secularists’. She goes so far as to suggest it is the beginning of a Christian fightback against ‘discrimination’.
Are we now in an alternative universe where the people of Northern Ireland are not unfairly subject to religiously influenced laws on abortion, equal marriage, Christian prayers in schools and councils, and Easter licensing? Is the religious education of our children no longer dominated by the four main Christian churches, to the exclusion of minorities and non-believers? Do schools no longer have an obligation to perform daily acts of Christian worship? Does Northern Ireland no longer have an existing blasphemy law ‘protecting’ the Christian religion?
Walker even managed to shoehorn in her cause célèbre, the Ashers case, which she has championed from the start via her newspaper despite repeated court defeats. We have detailed the Christian martyrdom complex, built upon a false narrative of Christian persecution, and the Belfast Telegraph’s obvious bias since Gail Walker became chief editor.
There is no mention in her writings of liberal Christian churches either, which do not necessarily agree with the anti-LGBT rights stance of the four churches or the writing of religious teachings into civil law.
Christians of the four main churches are not discriminated against in Northern Ireland, or Ireland generally. If they were, they could file a complaint using the same anti-discrimination laws and freedom of religion laws meant to protect everyone.
We are merely asking they loosen their iron grip on state laws and institutions, which should be completely secular, recognising and respecting the freedom of belief of everyone by necessarily favouring no-one.
Update: Brian Walker of Slugger O’Toole has also criticised Gail Walker’s op-ed.