Richard Dawkins Outraged People Think Calling Bernie Sanders Atheist Is Insulting

Atheist author and intellectual Richard Dawkins expressed his outrage that people think calling Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont an atheist is meant to be insulting.

(Photo: BBC video screencap)Richard Dawkins speaking on BBC's Sunday Morning Live on June 19, 2016.

Recently it was revealed via an email leak that some Democratic National Committee officials wanted to smear Sanders by labeling him an atheist.

Dawkins took to Twitter on Monday to express his disdain for the news that DNC officials considered calling Sanders an atheist a way to help derail his presidential campaign.

"What kind of a country is it where 'accusing' a candidate of atheism is assumed to damage his electoral prospects?" tweeted Dawkins.

(Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder)Hillary Clinton smiles as Bernie Sanders pauses while endorsing her during a campaign rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Within a day the tweet by the author of the best-selling book The God Delusion received more than 1,800 retweets as well as over 3,200 likes.

Last Friday Wikileaks released approximately 20,000 emails from leading DNC officials, showing that the Party establishment had overtly supported presumptive Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton's campaign over Sanders'.

"Several emails released show that although the DNC was supposed to remain neutral during the primary contest, officials grew increasingly agitated with Sanders and his campaign, at some points even floating ideas about ways to undermine his candidacy," reported ABC News.

"Regardless of who was behind the leak, the fallout for the DNC has been severe. Just one day before the Democratic convention was set to begin, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced her resignation, effective at the end of the week."

One of the leaked emails noted the idea of claiming Sanders was an atheist so as to undermine his ability to curry votes. Sanders himself has denied being an atheist.

"He had skated on having a Jewish heritage. I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist," read one of the leaked emails.

Dawkins' comment came as the secular group the Center for Inquiry also denounced what they described as "anti-atheist bigotry" on the part of DNC officials.

"We found it appalling that anyone within the Democratic National Committee would casually suggest attacking a candidate for their alleged atheism. Entertaining such a cynical and bigoted line of attack violates any number of basic American principles," stated CFI.

"Need we even point out that had the suggestion been made to attack a candidate for being Jewish, Mormon, or of any other minority faith, the resulting scandal would have been an all-consuming conflagration?"

According to a Pew Research report released in January, 51 percent of American adults surveyed said they would be "less likely" to vote for a presidential candidate who did not believe in God.

"The new survey confirms that being an atheist continues to be one of the biggest perceived shortcomings a hypothetical presidential candidate could have," reported Pew.

"Indeed, in the eyes of the public, being a nonbeliever remains a bigger drawback than having had an extramarital affair (37 percent say they would be less likely to support a candidate who had been unfaithful), having had personal financial troubles (41 percent say they would be less likely to support a candidate who had had financial struggles), or having used marijuana in the past (20 percent would be less likely to support a former pot smoker)."