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Clergy told to take on 'new atheists'

The Church of England will this week vow to fight "new atheism" in an attempt to combat the rise of secularism and defend Christianity in Britain.

Clergy are to be urged to be more vocal in countering the arguments put forward by a more hard-line group of atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, who have campaigned for a less tolerant attitude towards religion.

A report endorsed by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, warns that the Church faces a battle to prevent faith being seen as "a social problem" and says the next five years are set to be a period of "exceptional challenge".

It expresses concern that Christians are facing hostility at work and says the Church could lose its place at the centre of public life unless it challenges attempts to marginalise religious belief.

The rallying call comes amid fears that Christians are suffering from an increasing level of discrimination following a series of cases in which they have been punished for sharing their beliefs.

Members of the General Synod, the Church's parliament, will be asked at this week's meeting to back the landmark report, which outlines a vision to ensure a strong future of the Church.

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TAGGED: ATHEISM, RELIGION


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