Monday, 31 March 2008

The Times: Who wants to kill the elderly? I'm still waiting to hear back from the Bishop of Durham

Last week, irked by what I saw as the use of wild exaggeration by church leaders in the embryology Bill debate, I challenged one of them - the Bishop of Durham - to justify one of his more outrageous claims. Tom Wright had accused the “militantly atheist and secularist lobby” behind the Bill (a Bill, as it happens, supported and sponsored by many practising Christians) of believing “that we have the right to kill unborn children and surplus old people.”

I didn't choose to quarrel with Dr Wright's characterisation of abortion. What I did ask for, however, was any evidence whatsoever that any significant secular or atheist body of opinion advocates “the right to kill surplus old people”.

Bishop Wright's reply to my challenge, carried on Thursday's letters page in The Times, was to refuse to reply to it until I had answered a further series of questions that he set for me. This is, of course, odd. A cynic might think that the Bishop was playing for time while a diocesan search squad parsed the texts of old Polly Toynbee columns looking for gerontocide.

So let me answer the Bishop's questions. Read more
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