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Atheist Richard Dawkins, famous for his 2006 book The God Delusion, is raising eyebrows after declaring himself a “cultural Christian.” Dawkins, one of the leaders of the New Atheism movement, was speaking with Rachel Johnson of LBC when he declared his aversion to the UK being decorated with Ramadan lights instead of Easter decorations. “I must say I’m slightly horrified to hear that Ramadan is being promoted instead. I feel that we are a Christian country,” he said. He didn’t go so far as to say he accepted the Gospel, noting, “It’s true that statistically, the number of people who actually believe in Christianity is going down and I’m happy with that…” Dawkins, however, stated that any substitute for Christianity in society would be “dreadful.” “So, I count myself a cultural Christian. I think it would matter if we… substituted any alternative religion, that would be truly dreadful,” he said. “I’m not a believer, but there is a distinction between being a believing Christian and a cultural Christian. I love hymns and Christmas carols and I sort of feel at home in the Christian ethos, and I feel that we are a Christian country in that sense,” he said.

Regarding Islam, Dawkins said he would “choose Christianity every single time.” “It seems to me to be a fundamentally decent religion, in a way that I think Islam is not.” He admitted to what he considered problems in Christian treatment of women, but noted Islam seemed more hostile. “The way women are treated in Christianity is not great about that, it has had its problems with female vicars and female bishops, but there is an active hostility to women which is promoted I think by the holy books of Islam.” Dawkins was clear that although he enjoyed the benefits of living in a Christian culture, he does not identify as a believer.

The American Conservative scoffed at Dawkins’ push for cultural Christianity. “Dawkins is right to recognize that it is better to belong to a Christian nation than to any other sort of nation. Indeed, much of his own worldview, whether or not he knows it, is borrowed from Christendom… Where Dawkins goes wrong is in imagining he can remove Christ and still have the effects of Christianity.” It declared that the effects of diminished Christianity have been increased violence, drug use, and broken families. “The UK, like America, was once a Christian nation, but it will not remain so without Christians. Beauty, it turns out, cannot be found apart from holiness. The dampness in our eyes at ‘Ah, Holy Jesus’ is not caused by meditating on suffering in the abstract, but on the very particular suffering of a very particular man. Absent that man, the whole thing is meaningless.”

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