Thursday, January 21, 2010

What's the problem?

Richard Dawkins appeared on the TV programme the Daily Politics yesterday talking about his pet hate which is 'labelling children with the opinions of their parents'. Dawkins objects vehemently to calling a child with Catholic parents 'a Catholic child', a child of Protestant parents 'a Protestant child', a child of Muslim parents 'a Muslim child', etc. Dawkins talks about this so called 'labelling' in strong terms as something that has 'surely got to be wrong' and 'must be something that should be rectified'. To be honest, it is pretty difficult to see what Dawkins thinks the problem is apart from the fact that he doesn't like it of course. Calling a child of Catholic parents a Catholic seems like a perfectly natural and reasonable assumption to make. The rest of the guests on the show, and even the presenters, were struggling to see what Dawkins was getting so incensed about. Credit to John Denham, one of the guests, who had the wit to recognise where Dawkins' argument was heading: an acceptance of Dawkins' point would mean that parents should 'lose the right' to pass on their religious faith to their children. This of course is Dawkins' real agenda and what all the pussyfooting around about labelling is designed to conceal. Dawkins comes across as an interfering busybody who doesn't like the idea of religious beliefs being passed on to anyone and thinks it is his business in particular to stop other people from passing on their religious convictions to their children, whilst, of course, retaining the right to bring up his own children in the way he sees fit. When pressed on this, i.e whether he brought his own children up to be atheists like himself, he dodged the question insisting somewhat disingenuously that he was a cultural Christian. Given that Dawkins has been caught out organising atheist camps for children as young as four we can be in no doubt as to what values he thinks his, as well as everyone else's children, should be receiving. There is a chilling moment in the film where Dawkins attempts to reassure us that he is not advocating 'coercion' or 'state run child farms'.

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