Michael Brown

Professor Richard Dawkins, known as the world’s most famous atheist, has risen to rock star status for his attacks on God and religion, in particular, his attacks on the God of the Bible. But when he recently criticized Muslims, he was in for a surprise.

Before looking at Dawkins’ rather mild criticism of Muslims, let’s remember the depth of his vitriol against Christians and the Bible, most of which has only enhanced Dawkins’ reputation.

In an April interview aired on the Qatar-based TV network Al Jazeera, Dawkins railed on the Catholic Church, saying that, as “Horrible as sexual abuse no doubt was [suffered by some children at the hands of deviant priests], the damage was arguably less than the long-term psychological damage inflicted by bringing the child up Catholic in the first place.”

Was Dawkins really serious? The interviewer, Mehdi Hasan asked: “You believe that being bought up as a Catholic is worse than being abused by a priest?”

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.”

Did non-Christians take offense at these outrageous comments about Catholics and Protestants? Hardly. This was considered vintage Dawkins.

In his bestselling book The God Delusion, Dawkins famously mocked the God of the Old Testament, claiming that, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

This quote quickly became an atheist favorite, kind of an instant classic and part of Dawkins’ legacy. What about attacks on Allah? Did Dawkins attack him the same way?


Michael Brown

Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, including

Can You Be Gay and Christian?

, and he hosts the nationally syndicated, daily talk radio show, the Line of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.