The bull and the jackass

Because of its coverage on BBC World, I’ve followed the unhappy story of Shambo the temple bull at Skanda Vale in Wales. The bull had — as it has since been demonstrated — bovine tuberculosis and was taken from the temple under orders of the public authorities (but amid protest) and was slaughtered yesterday.  This much is known and a matter of public record. I would have done differently, but I’m sure that’s my American sense of deference to religious practice and faith in (veternary) medicine speaking. And a soft spot for cattle and the pious Welsh (whether Christian, Hindu or otherwise.) That’s not the point.

Enter the National Secular Society (UK) from which we get this:

Shambo the supposedly “sacred” bull has been disposed of at last. The face-off between the intransigent Hindus in Wales (who seemed hell-bent on creating a confrontation) was one of the more pathetic examples of recent attempts by religions to exempt themselves from the law.

The message of equality before the law tightly wrapped in smug and nasty rhetoric and there’s more at their site if you want to induge. Of course, Christians very often get tied up in this kind of haughtiness and I won’t excuse that either. Other groups do to. But why? The origin’s the same the world around: an assertion that I have more power than you. Which I doubt the UK secularists or even the fringier kind of Christian do. One can bray and bray yet have no kick.

Words matter. Sensibilities matter. And if the British secularists think this is a suitable tactic to convince and attract people then God help them.

With this post, I open the category Religious pluralism.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. British secularists do not need to attract people. Most people in Britain are already non-religious and all religions (except perhaps Islam among Asian immigrants) are in sharp decline, and some on the brink of extinction. The Anglican church only resists because of support from the State.

  2. Well, everybody wants a life insurance when things turn bad. But they forget religion again as soon as the crisis is over. And with religion you do not need to keep paying a monthly subscription.

  3. Although I think I agree with the principle of religions not being exempt from the law, the tone here is just really nasty. I’m very committed to an American-style secularism based on separation of church and state, rather than a French-style anti-religious secularism. What more do we need to convince us that fundamentalism and extremism is about human nature rather than about any particular religion? No one has a monopoly on intolerance.

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