Update to previous article which appears below

From Jerusalem to the American Bible Belt, Professor Richard Dawkins, pictured, has braved the world's most god-fearing communities to argue for a faithless society.

But the celebrity atheist is now facing one the most hostile receptions of his career – after an invitation to a Hebridean book festival sparked a battle for the soul of the Highlands

In one corner is Prof Dawkins, evolutionary biologist, best-selling author of The God Delusion and the world's most prominent secularist. In the other is the Free Church of Scotland – a devout and fundamentalist Christian group known locally as the Wee Frees.

The Wee Frees, who boast more than 100 congregations throughout Scotland, took exception to the godless academic accepting an invitation to speak at the Faclan Hebridean Book Festival on the Isle of Lewis – one of their heartlands.

The festival does not take place until November but as soon as Prof Dawkins' name appeared on the schedule it was enough to rouse the ire of many in this stronghold of Presbyterianism.

Atheist Richard Dawkins invited to Stornoway book festival

Prof Dawkins is due to attend the belief themed Faclan Hebridean Book Festival in Stornoway in November.

Christianity is still a central part of island life on Lewis, with most of the island's services, shops and businesses closed on a Sunday.

The Lord's Day Observance Society said it was amazed by the invitation.

President of the group, John Roberts, said: "He has got a name for himself and being invited to a place like the Western Isles, which is a stronghold Presbyterian area, I just find it amazing he should be invited to a place like that.

"He has a personality that has reached certain heights but it just shows how gullible people are when so much of what he says can be torn to pieces.

"I wouldn't cross the road to hear what he has to say."

He added: "I'm not saying don't attend the event, people have to make their own decision on that."

Pastor Donnie Stewart, of the New Wine Church at Stornoway, added: "It is disappointing that he has been invited given the Christian heritage and local sensitivities here.

"But we will keep praying that Prof Dawkins receives the personal revelation of the Holy Spirit."

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