These are replies to "A letter to MPs".
Dear Mr Pearson
Thank you for your letter to Nick Clegg MP regarding disestablishment of the Church and State.
Your comments have been noted.
Thank you once again for writing to us.
Correspondence Manager, Liberal Democrat Leader's Office
Dear Barry Pearson
Thank you very much for your letter commenting on Nick Clegg's response to the question of "do you believe in God".
I speak as a non-conformist Christian (in other words definitely not Church of England!) and I agree with you that far too much is made of many of the aspects of the claim that Britain is a Christian or even a religious nation.
We are a secular society and our laws should reflect that. That is not however, in my view, to discount the importance of maintaining that there are such things as rights and wrongs and that the society and legal structure that supports it should be one which enables people to do right and deters them from doing wrong.
To deal with your bullet points, I entirely agree with you about the need to disestablish the Church of England. It has been done in Wales many years ago and the sky did not fall. The church has never been established in Scotland and the sooner we have an all elected House of Lords the better.
I also agree with you that we need to repeal the blasphemy law. Technically that only applies to blasphemy in the eyes of the Church of England and clearly has no practical or beneficial effect in our society.
Your point about state funding for faith schools is an interesting one with many practical ramifications. One might theoretically see the advantages of the United States or French system which divides secular state schools from religious faith schools. However, the history of education policy over the last 150 years in the United Kingdom gives us an inescapable dilemma. It is also interesting that in the United States, where there is a strict separation of the secular state system from religious education, church attendance and levels of faith and Christian commitment are actual [sic] higher. You should perhaps be careful what you wish for!
I was interested in your view that if religion of any form is to be taught in school, then atheism should be given equal time. If fact state schools don't teach religion. They are by law required to have acts of worship but there is no supporting educational syllabus. At secondary level it is of course possible to study religious knowledge and a minority of students in faith secondary schools do actually do this.
I appreciate your radical approach to this interesting and increasingly important debate about the nature of our civic society and it will certainly help me to reflect on the lack of consensus there is about the way ahead.