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Moral and religious values are not intertwined

In the aftermath of the recent riots, we have been treated to all manner of recommendations as to how we should proceed in order to prevent such episodes in the future.

Many of these voices cited the decline of religious and moral values as the main cause and recommended their urgent renewal within society.

This attitude reflects the unquestioning acceptance of many people that the concepts of religion and morality are inextricably linked and cannot be considered in separation.

It could be argued, however, that it is morality's close association with religion which has discredited it in the eyes of many young people who seriously question the doctrines of the past.

It is often overlooked that moral codes have regularly developed naturally, with or without religion, whenever humanity has attempted to live in community.

In view of this, it could be claimed that morality, far from being the product of religion, is really one of its many appropriations.

While the association of morality with religion may have seemed natural in more credulous ages, it now serves only to rob morality of the impact it once enjoyed.

Perhaps when we finally realise that a morality compromised by religious connotations is no longer effective we will place it on a more rational footing from which it may regain its rightful credibility and respect.