By Melanie Phillips, Mailonline
You really would need to have a heart harder than the five-pence piece in the Christmas pud not to feel sorry at present for Professor Richard Dawkins.
Christmas must be such a terrible trial for the planet’s most celebrated — and angriest — atheist. All that cheerfulness and pleasure associated with Christianity’s main celebration seems to drive him simply nuts.
[...] His view of religion is as cheerless as it is unbalanced. As countless others prepare for an enjoyable and — dare one say it — even spiritually uplifting holiday, Professor Dawkins seems to become all the more miserable. If Charles Dickens were writing A Christmas Carol today, surely he would have replaced Ebenezer Scrooge with the figure of the joyless, rage-fuelled Dawkins spitting out ‘Bah, humbug!’ at families sitting down to the Christmas turkey.
After last week’s census details which showed that Christianity in Britain is in decline, Dawkins rejoiced that it was ‘on the way out in this country’.
Well, this is tantamount to rejoicing that Britain and western civilisation are on the way out. For Christianity underpins their most fundamental moral values — ones that both believers and non-believers hold dear, such as the difference between right and wrong, respect for other people and doing good things rather than bad.
It is also woven into Britain’s literature, art, music, history and national identity.
What’s more, despite the decline in believers, nearly two-thirds of the population still describe themselves as Christian. If Britain stops being a mainly Christian country, then it will stop being recognisably Britain.
It is not just Dawkins and his followers, however, who are dancing prematurely on Christianity’s grave.
In the eyes of just about the entire governing class, cultural milieu and intelligentsia, belief in Christianity is viewed at best as an embarrassment, and at worst as proof positive of imbecility.
Indeed, Christianity has long been the target of sneering comedians, blasphemous artists and the entire human rights industry — all determined to turn it into a despised activity to be pursued only by consenting adults in private.
As it happens, I myself am not a Christian; I am a Jew. And Jews have suffered terribly under Christianity in the past.
Yet I passionately believe that if Britain and the West are to continue to be civilised places, it is imperative that the decline in Christianity be reversed.