English-speakers around the world, and even citizens of the Mother Country, are often unaware of the historical and linguistic links between England and France. The motto on the British coat-of-arms should serve to remind us all that for three hundred years English sovereigns spoke only French, and that 60% of our language has Latin/French roots. But for me, a former “British subject” (as my first Australian passport stated on its cover), become a bicultural and would-be bilingual French citizen, the words carry a resonance different from the monarch’s claim to the divine right to govern : “God ? OK. But I insist on my right to deny His existence.”
It is a precious right, won at a high price. Many of our contemporaries are still not permitted to exercise that right. Some non-atheists, obliged to respect my right, would probably prefer they did not have to. They should know that I and most other atheists will always defend their right to believe in the God they have imagined and invented. All we ask is to be allowed the right not to believe, even if for them this amounts to our right to be wrong. We would prefer they extend this right to their own children, but we understand why they won’t. We recognize their right to try to convert us to their point of view, within the limits of the law, and expect them to recognize ours to proclaim and promote our atheism. Faith, like its denial, is a choice. Believers have made theirs. I have made mine. And I hope to help Believers on the Brink make theirs. It is, for God’s sake – as even we atheists still stupidly say – their right. Honi soit qui mal y pense.