Controversial atheist Richard Dawkins has launched an attack on faith schools and even questioned the prime minister’s religious beliefs.
In an open letter published in the New Statesman, Dawkins criticised the government’s continued support for faith schools as "condescending" and went so far as to suggest that the Tory leader is an atheist.
Dawkins, who accuses the schools of "indoctrinating" religion, claims they pave the way for a "lifetime of discrimination and prejudice".
Referring to a previous spat where David Cameron implied the former Oxford University Biologist "just didn’t get it" when it came to religion, Dawkins wrote: "Actually, I think you got it all along. If you are like several government ministers (of all three parties) to whom I have spoken, you are not really a religious believer yourself.
"Several ministers and ex-ministers of education whom I have met, both Conservative and Labour, don’t believe in God but, to quote the philosopher Daniel Dennett, they do 'believe in belief'."
Cameron, who says his daughter Nancy has had an "excellent" education at a Church of England school, has always claimed to have a "fairly classic sort of faith" but has admitted his religious fervour ran "hotter and colder by moments".
Dawkins added: "A depressingly large number of intelligent and educated people, despite having outgrown religious faith, still vaguely presume without thinking about it that religious faith is somehow 'good' for other people, good for society, good for public order, good for instilling morals, good for the common people even if we chaps don’t need it.
"Condescending? Patronising? Yes, but isn’t that largely what lies behind successive governments’ enthusiasm for faith schools?"