Atheist Richard Dawkins Trades Gibes With UK Prime Minister Over Religious Schools
British Prime Minister David Cameron fired back at Richard Dawkins comments on religious schools, and said the atheist author "just doesn't really get it."
Dawkins recently asked Cameron in a Guardian article: “Why do you support faith schools for children who are too young to have chosen their faith, thereby implicitly labeling them with the faith of their parents, whereas you wouldn’t dream of so labeling a ‘Keynesian child’ or a ‘Conservative child'?”
Cameron replied in an interview: “Comparing John Maynard Keynes to Jesus Christ shows, in my view, why Richard Dawkins just doesn’t really get it."
The prime minister also voiced his support for religious education. Cameron said the confluence of houses of worship and schools create an effective method for educating children.
“I think faith schools are very often good schools. Why? Because the organization that’s backing the school – the church or the mosque or the synagogue – is part of the community,” said Cameron.
Cameron believes religious institutions positively affect society. He also said they bring the community together.
"It brings a sense of community and a sense of responsibility and the backing of an institution to a school," he added.
Cameron also pointed out that religious schools have a greater history than state schools in the United Kingdom. Moreover, he explained, institutions should be free to teach their values to children.
“The church was providing good schools long before the state ever got involved, and we should respect the fact that it’s not just the state that can provide education – other bodies, too,” Cameron said.
Dawkins is outspoken about his atheism over the years and previously said he would like to set up schools where children can find out whether they are atheists. He has also accused religious schools of proselytizing children.
“If children understand that beliefs should be substantiated with evidence, as opposed to tradition, authority, revelation or faith, they will automatically work out for themselves that they are atheists," said Dawkins.
“I would never want to indoctrinate children in atheism, any more than in religion. Instead, children should be taught to ask for evidence, to be skeptical, critical, open-minded," he added.