When I first started the process of actually typing out my notes spanning the previous ten years, I heard on the radio concerning yet another child abuse scandal in the US that the Pope had condemned child abuse (which one would hope, but then the church took 400 years to agree that Galileo was right after all) and expressed the hope that God has used this scandal to 'purify the church'. In other words, God has seen to it that helpless children were raped, beaten, and abused in every way one can imagine so that his church could be purified. I have found that after reading the Bible, you will appreciate that at least God is consistent in his way of thinking.
Freedom of speech and belief are essential values from which our Western notion of democracy is based as any military commander will tell you in Iraq. However, there is a worrying trend, particularly in the United States, of the promotion and advancement of religion.
After all, it was the first President Bush who expressed the view that true Americans were not atheists . His son would continue to espouse this view immediately upon taking office where he officially dedicated his inauguration to Jesus Christ, whom he declared to be "our saviour", and would appoint as Attorney General a man who would claim that "Civilised people, Muslims, Christians and Jews, all understand that the source of freedom and human dignity is the Creator."
In the United Kingdom whose Prime Minister apparently knelt and prayed beside Bush at a private meeting at Camp David, this has manifested itself in the promotion of 'faith-based schools' where children are to be segregated by the superstitious beliefs of their parents and the state is expected to subsidise these beliefs into the next generation.