Church of England Slammed for Praying for Atheist Richard Dawkins to Recover from Stroke

Richard Dawkins wearing a Penguin tie at Hay 2014 (Jay Williams)
Richard Dawkins wearing a Penguin tie at Hay 2014 (Jay Williams)

The Church of England has been accused of “trolling” scientist Richard Dawkins after it tweeted it was praying for the outspoken atheist’s recovery from a stroke.

Dawkins, a distinguished evolutionary biologist at Oxford, is one of the world’s leading voices for secularism, and a fierce critic of religion.

When news broke Friday that the 74-year-old had suffered a minor stroke, forcing him to cancel scheduled appearances in Australia and New Zealand, the Church of England retweeted a report of his condition with a statement offering “prayers for Prof. Dawkins and his family.”

The remark proved divisive on Twitter, with some describing it as insensitive given Dawkins’ widely known disdain for religion.

Former British politician Nikki Sinclaire asked whether the church was being “sarcastic or ignorant,” while Scottish politician Murdo Fraser commended the church for “top trolling.”

But others thought the criticism of the tweet was unwarranted. One user responded to Sinclaire by arguing that praying for someone “causes them no harm or disrespect,” and pointing out that the church was merely wishing Dawkins well.

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