This letter appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Take the train, Bishop!
I refer to the article by the Bishop of Leicester, "This is not the time to build a secular state" (First Person, February 18) in which he asks, "what would a secular state look like?"
In fact, if he takes the train from St Pancras to Paris he will be in one, for France is a secular state. Otherwise he can travel to Mexico or Turkey, which are both countries with serious problems, but in the latter case are partly caused by a religious party trying to get its hands on the reins of government.
However, instead of taking a trip on Eurostar, he paints a fantasy-picture of what he thinks life would be like.
In fact, his statement that there would be "no great public services" really is nonsense.
The churches can have their services as much as they wish, except that they should stand on their own two feet and not expect the rest of us to support their bishops in the House of Lords, their subsidised chaplains in the armed forces and in hospitals (costing the taxpayer nearly £30 million a year).
He sees cathedrals, churches, gurdwaras and mosques being razed to the ground.
Perhaps he is thinking of the period of the formation of his own schismatic church, which destroyed and plundered the great monastery buildings, such as Leicester Abbey at the time of the Reformation.
He falls back on the statement that the CofE has shaped and coloured our national life; however that is not an unqualified good. Can he not see that the non CofE members of Bideford Council may find it insulting to have their time wasted by having to kowtow to prayers from a religion to which they do not subscribe? He should take the Eurostar.
Michael Gerard, president, Leicester Secular Society