Britain is straining under a new cultural divide, an "uncompromising" battle between the religious, of all faiths, and secularists and non believers. This is the central thesis of a long feature in today's Guardian by Stuart Jefferies. Diverse sources on both sides of this so called battle are quoted by Jefferies, although the introductory and concluding paragraphs are given over to the believers, which seems a good indication of where his sympathies lay.
A constant sub-narrative of this feature and others like it is that, somehow, the religious are being unfairly attacked (verbally) by nasty atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Well, being criticised in strong language is one thing, but can we get at least one thing straight, if there is a new culture war, then it isn't we secularists who did the invading of Poland - so to speak.
We're not planning a campaign to take 100s of community schools away from democratic control so we can use them to push our beliefs at children or give believers a chance to "experience" atheism.
We are not asking for children to be segregated in schools, boys separated from girls, one belief separate from all the others.
We are not plotting to divert millions, perhaps billions of tax payers money to subsidise our meetings and buildings.
We aren't plotting the hand over of massive sections of our social and welfare services so that the poor and needy can receive our good news on the rates.
We aren't the ones campaigning to remove science and learning from schools because they contradict our beliefs.
We are not the ones who say people of other beliefs can't be proper citizens.
You won't find atheists and secularists trying to close down theatre plays.
Neither will you find any Christian or Muslim authors living in hiding or fear because they dared to insult atheism. No one in this country lives in fear of violent reprisals if they criticise secularism.
Atheists aren't campaigning to exempt themselves from efforts to create a fair society, you won't hear of secular atheists arguing they need the freedom - because of their non-belief - to discriminate against others because of their beliefs or sexuality.
The millions of atheists who volunteer their time to help charities or who work in key public services aren't threatening to stop helping the needy if they aren't allowed to discriminate against people they don't like. When we work for the public good we don't try and claim we give society a special kind of social capital that other beliefs don't possess.
We understand democracy and don't expect that we can be legislators without being elected just because of our beliefs.
Atheist don't argue for the power of the state to enforce daily acts of secular worship in all schools for all children regardless of their own beliefs.
Let's be clear being secular is being pro-fair play. We can all believe what we like when it comes to origins and philosophy. We can enjoy collective association, we can argue our beliefs, why we think they hold truth and why they would be good for the country. Believers can come together praise who or what ever they want, write poems, make films, sing songs. We can all draw on our life stances and beliefs to inform our personal politics and stances on the big issues of the day. That is fair, that is democracy, it is both a moderate and progressive position. But don't ask millions of secular citizens to stand aside and basically shut up while the believers demand more and more of our tax money to subsidise their beliefs, demand to take over more of our schools, demand that non-believers have to obey the law, but they can pick and choose which laws believers obey. We secularists on the left and the right - we are the moderates, we are the defenders of equality under the law, defenders of just democracy.
Away with Stuart Jefferies attempt to triangulate us as somehow one extreme, with the taliban the other and people like the pope somewhere in the middle.