Latest post of the previous page:DD,
Sorry for the delay.
Let me deal with the CofE joke first. The clergyman is a stock figure, who finds himself in a quandary when he is challenged about eternal suffering in Hell. He can't deny the dogma without impiety, but his natural kindness rebels at the thought of such suffering. So he resorts to the idea that God prompts penitence in the wicked in their final moments, so cutting the sentence from Hell to Purgatory. He isn't very bright, perhaps, but there isn't much harm in him.
On to my definition of religion. Off the top of my head, I'd say it was a set of beliefs, values and practices, relating to the supernatural and often to a deity or number of deities seen as having created the world. In a wider sense, it would include religious sentiment or impulse- for example the common thought that " There must be something out there."
You will see that my definition distinguishes belief or impulse from practice. That, I suspect, is what divides us here. In my view we are entitled to use force, including lethal force in the extreme case, to protect ourselves from practice that turns to violence. And if the magic wand question had been about stopping attacks on the WTC or London Underground, my answer would have been different, because these are examples of violent practice.
But what people believe in the privacy of their own thoughts is another matter. There are many religious people who wish me no harm at all, and do not deserve to be subjected to mind-control. There are also those who dither about religious belief. They are potential allies, but I don't want them godless if godlessness has been forced on them. And there are those atheists who, like me, entertain religious thought or sentiment
or impulse precisely in order to be sure that our godlessness is honestly won. I don't imagine that my mind will change, but I want to be able to make it up myself.
Thanks again for your thoughts. I shall have to finish for the time being, but I'm enjoying this discussion.