I was appalled by the closing paragraph of Shabbir Akhtar's review (THES, August 21), in which he identifies secularism with paganism and denounces the latter as ruthless, power-seeking and "godless".
Whether arising from ignorance or bigotry, such a view cannot go unchallenged. Paganism is a tolerant, life-affirming religion rooted in reverence for nature, an ethical way of life, and the acknowledgement of deity as both immanent and diverse. It is practised by many tens of thousands of people within the United Kingdom and formally recognised by the Home Office, the Inter Faith Network, and a growing body of informed academic opinion. Contrary to Mr Akhtar's assertion, Christians and Jews have nothing whatsoever to fear from paganism; freedom of religious belief is an integral part of our world view and we warmly embrace the emergence of a truly multi-faith society.
The Pagan Federation
BMBox 7097 London WC1