Professor Grayling's thoughts on theistic encroachment:
The worshippers of Brian's sandal everywhere are tireless and persistent in their efforts to recapture the world for dogma. In America the creationists and so-called "intelligent design" votaries expend vast sums and energy on trying to drag us back into medieval times. Islamists have never left them – except of course in freely using today's technology to further their aims. Cherry-pickers all, the Brian-sandalistas want it all: they want the rest of us to think and act as they prescribe, and to make us do it by the means that infidel thinking has produced: for example, religious freakery is all over the internet like a rash.
If the Brian-sandalistas cannot succeed by direct assault, they will do it by constant nibbling and encroachments: prayers in American publicly-funded schools, headscarves in Turkish publicly-funded universities, a little bit of anti-evolutionary biology there, a little alcohol ban there – and if that doesn't work, they try more robust means. So it goes: creep creep, whisper, soothe, murmur a prayer with the kids in assembly, ecumenicalise, interfaith-schmooze, infiltrate, subvert, complain, campaign, scream, threaten, explode.
The asymmetry is stark. Secularists say, "believe whatever nonsense you want, but keep it to yourself and act responsibly". The Brian-sandalistas say, "believe what we want you to believe and act as we say". The psychopaths among them say, "believe what we want you to believe and act as we say or we will kill you". Meanwhile the residue of attitudes and practices once foisted on everyone by the zealous still dog and bedevil us, as witness the poor benighted Catholic Poles suffering at the sight of what - you have to larf - they presumably believe God created.
There is nothing trivial about the problem in Turkey; and the problem in Turkey is the problem for the world at large. It is about boundaries, about the place of religious belief in the public domain, its effects on individual lives, and its effect on public policy. The history of "the west" is in essence a history of secularisation, and most even of those who decry what they see as its imperfections would not willingly be without the huge advances it has wrought in scientific, social and political respects. Think: if the clocks could be turned back as the Brians want, the English would be ruled by two people: The Queen and Rowan Williams.
To reiterate: "The history of "the west" is in essence a history of secularisation, and most even of those who decry what they see as its imperfections would not willingly be without the huge advances it has wrought in scientific, social and political respects." Bravo. Madison, Jefferson, & Co would have approved of that (yes, they had issues as well).