Chad English of Ottawa has sent this superb letter to the Economist:
SIR – You ask what accounts for the failure of atheists to organise or wield influence ( “Believe it or not”, December 11th). The answer is easy. Atheism is a religion in the same way that not collecting stamps is a hobby. When you understand why there are no ‘aphilatelist’ conventions, you will understand why atheists don’t congregate.
We don’t want power and influence as a group. We don’t care if a government member is an atheist any more than we care if they collect stamps. What we do care about is that government officials can separate their personal religious beliefs from their governing duties. A philatelist government that pushes laws favouring stamp collecting at the expense of those who don’t collect stamps is a bad government. The same is true of a religious one.
The separation of church and state is a fundamental principle of a free society. Failure to embrace this principle is to the eventual detriment of the church, the state, freedom, and society.
See you at the next non-meeting.