UK

Church Of England Denies 'Trolling' Richard Dawkins Says Offer Of Prayers For Atheist After Stroke Was Genuine

14/02/2016 11:16 GMT | Updated 14/02/2016 12:59 GMT
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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 04: Richard Dawkins, founder of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science,promotes his new book at the Seymour Centre on December 4, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Richard Dawkins is well known for his criticism of intelligent design. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)

The Church of England has denied "trolling" Richard Dawkins by offering prayers to him after he suffered a stroke.

The renowned atheist and scientist had to cancel speaking engagements while he recovers from the attack, prompting the Anglican church to tweet:

The church has pleaded its message was a "a genuine tweet offering prayer for a public person who was unwell", after a "Twitterstorm" accuses them of mocking the staunch critic of organised religion.

In a Tumblr post, the Archbishop Council's director of communications Rev Arun Arora wrote: "Others attacked the church for “trolling” Dawkins suggesting the prayer was intended as an attack or sarcastic comment.

"One author and comedian suggested we were 'taking the p**s'. One news site even suggested that by offering to pray for Dawkins of all people the bishops controlling the account had clearly 'been at the sherry'.

"What is clear in some of the responses is a misunderstanding of what prayer is, who does it and who it is for."

Rev Arora said Dawkins' views were more nuanced than commentators on both side suggested, adding there was a "danger in reducing him to a one trick pony".

His views are more nuanced that both supporters and detractors would usually acknowledge. At the end of last year Prof Dawkins publicly voiced his support for the Church of England when our “Lord’s Prayer” advert was banned by cinemas in the UK.

"At the end of last year Prof Dawkins publicly voiced his support for the Church of England when our “Lord’s Prayer” advert was banned by cinemas in the UK," he added.

"I wish Professor Dawkins well. I hope he makes swift and full recovery and wish him the best of health. I will pray for him too. It is the very least I can do."

Dawkins had published a recording in which he describes the stroke and how he begun recovering.


In it, he says his doctors urged him to avoid "controversy" as it would add to his stress.

"The doctors asked me whether I had been suffering from stress, and I had to say, 'Yes, I had'," he said.

"They keep advising me not to get involved in controversy, and I'm afraid I had to tell them that not getting involved in controversy was one of those things I was not particularly talented at."

He said the stroke happened after he received a "very gracious letter" from the organisers of a US science conference that had disinvited him, apologising him and re-inviting him.

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