"It's obvious that in the US," writes the Guardian's Andrew Brown, "the new atheism is a reassuring fundamentalism for the college educated." Is it? Well, Brown thinks so. What's more, he wonders if the British "are ... going to see the same pattern" across the pond.
Subscribe to a set of pious hopes about reason and progress, read a few of the right books, and you have found a clear social identity. It offers a set of enemies who are both harmless (when they're Christians) and sinister (when they're Muslims). Obviously, it is no longer done to sneer at the working classes for being idle, brutish, smelly, and breeding too much. But it's perfectly OK to sneer at 'faith heads' for all these things: that shows you're enlightened.
But Brown points out that the British poor are not devout, as the American poor are. Thus, "not going to church does not function in itself as a class marker."
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