Letter: Challenges to faith and atheism on the streets of the Holy City

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The Independent Online
Letter: Challenges to faith and atheism on the streets of the Holy City

Sir: Polly Toynbee ("Cradle of fanaticism", 5 June) accuses Christians, Jews and Muslims of being full of savagery and hatred. That some believers are sometimes violent and revengeful is beyond question, as is the fact that hatred and savagery are regarded as as great sins and condemned by the three religions she attacks.

This century's bloodiest mass murderers have not been believers; Mao, Stalin and the Khmer Rouge were atheists. Hitler spoke only of Providence and rejected Christianity. Faced with such savageries, the liberalism she espouses has been at best ineffectual. At worst, liberals have been fellow travellers with the totalitarians, never more admiring than when they have been persecuting the religious.

Tolerance, decency and humanity are fragile virtues. Given its history of conflict and oppression, it should be no surprise that they do not thrive in Jerusalem. More surprising is that, on the evidence of her article, they have wilted so badly in whatever prosperous unthreatened milieu Ms Toynbee inhabits.

The Rev PETER HATTON

Droitwich, Worcestershire

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