The Latest News from the Scourge of the Praying Classes

Source: Science Editor Robert McKie in The Guardian, (May 19)

It sounds like one of the most unlikely alliances of recent years. Richard Dawkins (pictured above), arch-atheist and scourge of the praying classes, has announced support for education secretary Michael Gove’s plan to send free King James Bibles to every state school.

The proposal aims to help pupils learn about the Bible’s impact “on our history, language, literature and democracy” and will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the authorized version’s publication, Gove said earlier this year.

Church leaders have approved, but the plan has fallen foul of most non-believers. An online Guardian poll showed an 82% opposition, while the National Secular Society said the £375,000 proposal wasted money and favoured Christianity in multi-faith state schools.

Nevertheless, several rich Tory party donors agreed to back the plan and the first Bibles were sent out last week, to the derision of secularists – with the exception of their most prominent and pugnacious recruit: Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion and critic of all things clerical.

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7 responses to “The Latest News from the Scourge of the Praying Classes

  1. Along the same lines: Check out the webpage of ffrf (Freedom from Religion Foundation) a very worthy organization . . .

  2. Dawkins doesn’t take positions lightly. Do we know why he took this one, which seems (at least intuitively) so contrary to what one would expect?

  3. David Schatzky

    I agree with exposing children to the Bible. It is infinitely better to arrive at the conclusion that religion is bunk after being able to quote chapter and verse, than to arrive at that conclusion out of ignorance. It also helps create an understanding of some peoples’ values and the origins of their beliefs. It can create a tolerance for other people’s dependence on religion for guidance and nurturing, even if it’s not what one wants/needs for oneself. Not a bad thing. Exposing youngsters to biblical knowledge is different than promoting it, or brainwashing them. Critical reading (allowing for discussion and dissent) is a very useful exercise.

  4. More believers should know what’s really in there.

  5. Curmudgeon

    and the language of the KJ version is fundamental to English lit.

  6. Horace Krever

    The announced policy is for a state that has an established church, the head of which is the monarch. Would the precedent be acceptable, or even conceivable, in Canada’s multi-religious provinces, notwithstanding the demonstrable relationship of the KJV with the English language?

  7. Alan Pearson

    I am a Christopher Hitchens-style atheist and find myself in agreement with Richard Dawkins on this point. Ignorance of the Bible makes inaccessible the crucial references of a vast proportion of Western literature. To quote my wife quoting her late father, “It’s important for you to know about the religion I don’t believe in.”

    I am open to analogous arguments from advocates of other world religions, though am not prepared to guarantee that I will read their holy books as assiduously as I once read Christianity’s (I was a believer then).