Town hall staff have been banned from using the phrase \’singing from the same hymn sheet\’ because it could upset atheists.
Oddly, I\’ve just been reading one of Douglas Adams\’ essays, where he describes himself as a militant atheist. He also addresses the question of his use of religious imagery ("some bloke got nailed to a tree two thousand years ago" for example).
The point is that such images, certain phrases ("giving up the ghost" comes from the King James translation of Genesis) are in the very bones of the language and the culture. Any writer is going to use these as they reverberate, come laden with resonances.
I\’m sure we could find all sorts of bits and pieces from Polly T\’s columns where she uses such phrases and she\’s the President (or High Punkah Wallah, whatever title they use) of the National Secular Society. Dawkins I\’m sure also uses them.
This is inevitable as there are really only two works which created the English language. Yes, it\’s a delightful mongrel tongue, taking words from everywhere, but it\’s Shakespeare and the King James Bible that helped to codify it. In a way, the KJB is one of the founding documents of the written language and thus there are religious overtones to many well known phrases.
Something which a "militant atheist" like Adams was well aware of, indeed revelled in.