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Letters extra: A death rattle in the throat of British atheism

Peter Wilby's fact-free rant (February 15) was yet another death rattle in the throat of British atheism. Geoffrey Wheatcroft said of the public reaction to the death of Princess Diana "The death of a princess doesn't matter much. The death of the Enlightenment does". How does the supposed decline in church attendance compare with the falling circulation over 30 years of the New Statesman ?

Wilby is convinced that no one manifests Christian belief except as a hypocritical device for gaining access to a church school; but then confesses that he is 'rather frightened of religion' because many people, whom he observes in the USA but could find them here, evidently believe very sincerely. MPs evidently thought believers were plentiful when they voted 405 to 87 against the much-trailed Dobson amendment (what happened to this news in today's TES?).

Wilby is right that state-funded faith schools might be desirable from his point of view. How did he get to be how he is? Apparently by attending a faith school. Such schools are fertile in their diversity. Atheism cannot reproduce its own kind. Take Frank Dobson's son as an example.

Richard Wilkins
General Secretary
Association of Christian Teachers
94a London Road
St Albans AL1 1NX

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