(Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, at the enthronement ceremony for the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at Canterbury Cathedral March 21, 2013.REUTERS/Toby Melville)

A group of scientists, academics and prominent writers accused British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday of stoking sectarian divisions through his repeated description of Britain as a “Christian country”.

The public figures, including authors Philip Pullman and Terry Pratchett, said they respected the Conservative leader’s own religious beliefs, which he has addressed in a series of statements.

But they took issue with his characterization of Britain saying, in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, the country was actually a “plural society” of largely “non-religious” people.

“To constantly claim otherwise fosters alienation and division in our society,” said the 55 members of the group that also included Nobel prize winning scientist John Sulston.