Religious lobbies, spokesmen of ‘traditions’ and ‘communities’, enjoy privileged access not only to the media but to influential committees of the great and the good, to governments and school boards. Their views are regularly sought, and heard with exaggerated ‘respect’, by parliamentary committees. You can be sure that, when an Advisory Commission is set up to advise on cloning policy, or any other aspect of reproductive technology, religious lobbies will be prominently represented. Religious spokesmen and spokeswomen enjoy an inside track to influence and power which others have to earn through their own ability or expertise. What is the justification for this?
― Richard Dawkins
Human society has long accepted that religion possesses a privileged and influential position. High priests had direct communication with their gods, and everybody else had no choice but to cater to the ruling religious class. As archaic as it might seem, are we very different now?
In US politics it is unimaginable for a high ranking politician not to reach out to the religious contingent.
The media are no different. Too many times the ‘experts’ chosen to speak on a moral issue will include the obligatory priest, the pastor, the rabbi, the Iman. Why? When the topic of cloning was hotly debated with the birth of Dolly, it was the clergy of various stripes without any knowledge of science who claimed there was some sort of moral code being broken. This was not based on whether Dolly or any other clone would suffer, it was based on the assumption that science was playing god or that clones would have no souls (of course, according to most religionists, sheep don’t have souls - all the more curious given what Christians often call themselves).
It never occurs to anyone in the media to question why an Iman or a priest might have a better handle on morality, especially given the Centuries of bloodshed stemming from religious disagreements. Can anyone imagine Crick and Pauling trying to kill one another over a minor disagreement in science? Of course not, but it religion has been the fulcrum of wars and genocide even when 99% of their doctrine seems to agree.
Still, it is the religious who seem to have unparalleled access to the media. It is time we work to change this.
Richard Dawkins has been an outspoken opponent of religious privileging, working alongside organizations such as the Secular Coalition for America that fights this on the government level. RDFRS is there to make the media aware that those of us without religious beliefs are here and our numbers are growing. Stop ignoring us.
RDFRS will be starting a campaign to track media privileging of religion and alert our supporters to the egregious exceptionalism granted to religious leaders.
Please, donate now to help us to change the acceptance of such privileging.