Richard Dawkins, speaking at the Chipping Norton Literary Festival in England yesterday repeated thoughts that he said last year–that forcing religion on children without questioning the validity of its claims is as bad as child abuse, and its long term psychological damage is worse than sexual abuse by priests. In an earlier interview with Al-Jazeera, Dr. Dawkins cited a Catholic who was abused by a priest, according to the Daily Mail:
Prof Dawkins' best-selling book The God Delusion argues that belief in a supernatural creator is irrational and harmful to society.
In the earlier interview, he claimed he had been told by a woman that while being abused by a priest was a ‘yucky’ experience, being told as a child that a Protestant friend who died would ‘roast in Hell’ was more distressing.
In remarks to Qatar-based TV network Al Jazeera, he said: ‘Horrible as sexual abuse no doubt was, the damage was arguably less than the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing the child up Catholic in the first place.’
Interviewer Mehdi Hasan asked: ‘You believe that being bought up as a Catholic is worse than being abused by a priest?’.
Professor Dawkins replied: ‘There are shades of being abused by a priest, and I quoted an example of a woman in America who wrote to me saying that when she was seven years old she was sexually abused by a priest in his car.
‘At the same time a friend of hers, also seven, who was of a Protestant family, died, and she was told that because her friend was Protestant she had gone to Hell and will be roasting in Hell forever.
‘She told me of those two abuses, she got over the physical abuse; it was yucky but she got over it.
‘But the mental abuse of being told about Hell, she took years to get over.’
Dr. Dawkins says there is value in teaching children about religion, because understanding religion helps us to understand literature, and also political events around the world, but such education should not be done in an indoctrinating manner, but in a purely informational format.