Some are very relaxed and comfortable with their religious stance and are equally happy to befriend an atheist such as myself. I regularly espouse on my timeline my disdain for religion, but can of course separate the religion from the person.
Standing in the shadow of the attack on Charlie Hebdo and western norms we need to learn from and implement those principles of free speech that Hitchens advocated.
Religious texts are absolutely wide-open to interpretation, and for books that claim to contain the word of god, that is a potentially dangerous situation.
Should the church really get involved in supporting people with mental health problems - or would they be better focused on signposting people to 'more appropriate' sources of support?
A recent poll undertaken by Professor David Voas has exposed a rather formidable gender gap in Britain's approach to religion. When asked their opinion on God, only 34% of women responded with atheist or agnostic claims, a figure dwarfed by the 54% of men who agreed with them.
The subtleties we lose when we communicate electronically have to do with expression, with touch, with the face-to-face aspect of relationship. Social media does not show tears in the eye, a hand on the arm when saying something painful, body language that speaks of inner turmoil, deep distress - even gentle respect. It is simply there - usually forever.
We are often told that as Jews, we should end our "unhealthy obsession" with the Holocaust; that it is now time to move on. Whilst this may seem sacrilegious to some, as an educator, I would like to suggest that perhaps we do need to re-evaluate the messages that we take from this darkest period of recent Jewish history and their long term import.
It's not my intention to invert the status quo and start bashing atheists. There's enough bashing going on as it is. What is interesting, writing as someone who doesn't really think of himself as either, is to observe the distinct similarities in each group.
We commemorate the Holocaust because morality demands it of us. We oppose today's antisemitism because it must be opposed, not because we believe that another European Holocaust is likely.
Two young Muslims, completely different backgrounds, the same objectives and similar rationale. They do not appear to be a new axis of evil, but a very natural by-product of our military behavior.
The Holocaust was a genocide, a systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. As President Shimon Peres has said, it was "the greatest darkness that mankind has known". Jews were abandoned by humanity. But there were human beings who were sensitive to this tragedy...
Tolerance or diversity is not something that can be learnt through school textbooks, social media posts or the media, it should be something that people are actively seeking knowledge about if they want a just society.
invoking the fate of the Jews under Nazi rule is not only inappropriate - it is inflammatory and insulting to the victims. Raising the spectre of 'anti-semitism' will not help anyone cope with the threat posed by Jihadists and extreme Islamists. We (all) face a specific menace that demands specific counter-measures.
Remembering and marking the Holocaust is one of the most important things that we as a society can do. If we fail to remember and learn from the past, then we are surely doomed to repeat past mistakes. Commemorating the Holocaust is essential to educating our children and others who may not know or be sufficiently familiar with the horrific, unique and unprecedented events of the 1930s and 1940s in Nazi Europe. Educating society on the horrors of the Holocaust is perhaps now, 70 years on from the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and other concentration and death camps, more important than ever.
In the face of abundant evidence that we clearly do die and rot and decay, we surmised that a) we must have offended God in our hubris and have been subject to a great 'fall,' but b) there remains in us a spirit that aches to lift back up and rejoin the divine.
My experience of Scouting is ten years that left me with fond memories of having been a Cub, a Scout and then a Venture Scout who weekly 'promised to love God' but admittedly without anyone explaining to me what that actually meant.