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Religious Reaction to Richard Dawkins' Stroke on Twitter Sparks Heated Debate

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Richard Dawkins has an unfortunate relationship with Twitter. Those who defend him argue that he struggles to articulate the points he's trying to make, and often ends up sounding like he's prejudiced or hateful, while his critics often argue that he's just saying outrageous things to draw attention back to himself. One thing is for certain though - he's never said anything half as nasty as the threats and condemnation he receives from his substantial pool of haters.

Dawkins is wished dead, or consigned to the fiery depths of hell on an almost daily basis by hardline religious people who have a pathological hatred of any atheist, and Dawkins is kind of the alpha-atheist in their minds. Directing that kind of bile at someone is pretty unacceptable most of the time, but what about when a tragic mishap actually befalls that person? Does that hate get worse or does it dry up?

Last week, Dawkins had a stroke. It's been described as minor, and he's expected to make a full recovery, but it's still a horrible thing for anyone to have to go through, and it has unsettling implications about general health, especially for someone his age (74). Happily, the hate is largely being drowned out by messages of support, but weirdly some of that support has been flagged as being quite the opposite.


The Church of England tweeted a prayer for Dawkins, and although such an action can't be considered without remembering the disparity between the man and the Christian faith, the sympathetic intent seems to be genuine. Despite this, many people have been claiming that the tweet was actually venomously sarcastic, and have branded them 'The Church of Troll'.


There's no getting around the fact that the Church would not have tweeted about Dawkins if he hadn't already been on their radar, but really it seems like a demonstration that the church will offer sympathy and support to anyone, regardless of their views. They've since defended the tweet, stating the innocence of their intentions, and the spokesperson even went so far as to suggest that people are often too quick to misinterpret things Dawkins says, arguing that “His views are more nuanced that both supporters and detractors would usually acknowledge,”


That's the problem with Twitter, you don't get to decide what the intent behind your statements are, other people do that for you. You can't look at a tweet like that without acknowledging that Dawkins is antitheistic, but online people have a tendency to intensify the narrative, or look for drama when there isn't any. Whatever you think of Dawkins, if you're any kind of decent person, you'll be hoping he recovers OK.



Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF


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Religious Reaction to Richard Dawkins' Stroke on Twitter Sparks Heated Debate Reviewed by Callum Davies on Monday, February 15, 2016 Rating: 5

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