LETTER : Forget Christmas, and have a merry pagan Winter Solstice festival

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The Independent Online
Sir: Richard Dawkins asks if we have ever met an uneducated atheist - the answer is, frequently! Through school and parish work I have met appalling ignorance from both young people and parents who think that belief compels you to hold that there is an old man in the sky with a white beard, and that the world was made in seven days. And there are the macho crowd who reject religion as something for women and children.

Atheists can be intelligent, educated, ignorant, immature, kind, selfish, and so on. Belief does not make one a saint or a bigot, necessarily. Educated, thinking, intelligent people can be believers or atheists.

Much that Dawkins said about attitudes to Christmas I heartily endorse, but he seems to gloat that the atheist is the calm, sensible thinker who won't have truck with muddle or hypocrisy. It is a little more complicated than that.

The Rev KEVIN O'DONNELL

Crowthorne, Berkshire

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