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The C of E's prayer tweet for Richard Dawkins - magnanimous or not?

(54 Posts)
OutwiththeOutCrowd Wed 17-Feb-16 20:32:17

When Richard Dawkins suffered a stroke earlier this month, the C of E responded with a tweet of ‘prayers for Richard Dawkins and his family’.

Since then, media commentators and tweeters have heatedly debated the rights and wrongs of offering prayers for the most famous atheist in the world.

Amongst the predictable responses on both sides of the divide, there have been a few surprises. For example, Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society has said, somewhat mildly, that it could just be seen as the religious equivalent of saying you’re in our thoughts - although he did also wonder if the tweet was an attempt to court publicity. The Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, on the other hand, said, ‘I think it’s a bit cheap and nasty.’

Rev Arun Arora has robustly defended the tweet, reminding everyone that Jesus urges Christians to pray for their opponents. And plenty of Christians have joined in with and felt good about praying for RD.

Personally, while I don’t think the tweet was mocking or sarcastic, as some on Twitter have asserted, I do feel it was ill-advised. The C of E has behaved as if its worldview is a wonderful one-size-fits-all Procrustean bed.

At a vulnerable and stressful time in his life, the tweet may have left RD feeling jangled. It would certainly not have comforted or heartened him – and that for me is the bottom line and the reason they should have desisted.

At the very least, the C of E could have restrained itself from tweeting. Strictly private prayers that RD need never know about – or even a private message of support in non-religious language sent directly to RD would have been better. A #PrayForDawkins campaign tweeted to the world at large feels wrong to me.

What do others think?

Bolognese Wed 17-Feb-16 21:35:25

I dont imagine RD cares either way, neither do I. Why would anyone care about someone referencing a non-existent being. So unlike religions, atheists wont try and maim, harm or kill the person who sent the tweet.

However, lets be honest, it does show how 'petty' (I am not sure what the right word is) the church is. Prof Dawkins is an atheist and to publicly proclaim the church is going to ask god to look after him is crass, ignorant, selfish, stupid, arrogant (again looking for the right word).

Any intelligent human being would be a bit more sensitive to the 'atheist communities' sensibilities and not say something that was going to be construed as insulting. Genuine words of sympathy could have been sent without the sting in the tail.

And a genuine christian would have prayed in private, if they felt it was absolutely necessarily.

What a lot of narcissistic christians dont realize is that even if god is real they dont want to be 'forgiven' by him, and they dont want to go to heaven. So even it was possible for a priest to forgive them and get them in, they dont want to go there! So I dont even get why a christian would ask to have that forced upon anyone against their will.

HumphreyCobblers Wed 17-Feb-16 21:41:04

I think it was the wrong thing to do. He strikes me as the sort of person who would be annoyed by this. If they wanted to pray for him they could have done so in private without letting him know, after all.

EdithSimcox Wed 17-Feb-16 23:33:20

I'm not sure exactly what the tweet said but a 'you're in our thoughts and prayers' type thing would be ok I think. RD and the CofE go back a long way and are not always enemies. RD supported the CofE in their attempts to get the Lord's Prayer ad shown in cinemas screening Star Wars before Christmas for instance. I'm sure the tweet was well intentioned.

The NSS doesn't miss an opportunity to suggest that the CofE is courting publicity (see the same Lord's prayer ad issue for starters), but if KPW thinks the tweet was ok it almost certainly was, from a securalist perspective - he wouldn't have hesitated to say it was inappropriate if he thought it was.

But for me personally, unless I was sure someone would welcome me praying for them I wouldn't tell them I was going to do that - I know too many people who would be offended by the suggestion.

SleepyForest Wed 17-Feb-16 23:54:41

It seems to me that they did it for publicity and that it was distasteful. It was definitely trolling.

Dawkins can be an asshat but the man is ill -leave him alone.

AlanPacino Thu 18-Feb-16 06:37:53

Ken Ham's tweet was worse:

Obs2016 Thu 18-Feb-16 07:03:43

I thought it was wrong too, for all the reasons above.

SpotOn Thu 18-Feb-16 07:53:41

I don't think they were intentionally trolling.

I think it was a "We will pray for absolutely anyone" type of statement, though.

I very much doubt RD would be "jangled" by such a tweet!

Bolognese Thu 18-Feb-16 16:20:15

EdithSimcox "The NSS doesn't miss an opportunity to suggest that the CofE is courting publicity". Uhmmmmm, It was published in a public forum, for public consumption, and because it was twitter inviting public comment. How is that not courting publicity?

I am all for free speech, but don't pretend it wasn't a very crass thing to say in public.

On a side note, when I go to the cinema I am paying to be entertained, I do not want to lectured by any religious groups. Cant you imagine the avalanche of different religions you would get advertising if that door was opened. Why doesn't the church just make a film and people can then choose to go see it or not?

DioneTheDiabolist Thu 18-Feb-16 21:58:57

Bolognese, if an atheist discovers that a god exists, surely they will no longer be atheist. The concepts of god's "forgiveness" and entry to heaven will be therefore be brand new options to consider (although I am aware that some atheists believe in an afterlife).

EdithSimcox Thu 18-Feb-16 22:38:34

bolognese if I were a proper environmentalist I wouldn't want to see ads for cars, but I am subjected to them at the cinema nonetheless. Why have a special rule for religions? - probably most of us aren't interested in half the ads they play.

I went to a film with the DC a few
weeks ago and there was a short animation with it - unadvertised so I hadn't chosen to go and see it - that portrayed Hindu gods as superheroes. It was rather sweet, a little boy learning to appreciate his father's religion through a medium he could relate to. I fail to see any difference of substance between that and the Lord's Prayer ad (other than the short was 10x longer).

VagueIdeas Thu 18-Feb-16 22:46:15

I think it's pretty obvious that a staunch atheist doesn't want anyone to pray for them. I know I don't.

Whoever runs the CofE Twitter account knew that. All that was missing was a wink emoticon.

I think it was a wee bit goady and sarcastic. Of course, it can be explained away by saying "Oh, we will pray for anyone of any faith (or lack of)". So the CofE look all lofty and pious. Win-win for them.

Bolognese Thu 18-Feb-16 22:46:23

That's a good point Dione, your right. I am an atheist but also well versed in the various religions offer of heaven, nirvana, shangri-la, Elysium, etc So if a deity was proved to me I would be a theist, but so far I would not want to accept any of their offers. Why would anyone want an eternity of servitude?

Which is what I understand to be Richard Dawkins position as well.

Bolognese Thu 18-Feb-16 22:50:16

EdithSimcox, the difference is that if you allow religion to advertise in cinemas then you risk having your experience disrupted by someone coming in and trying to KILL YOU.

niminypiminy Thu 18-Feb-16 23:03:05

(I haven't noticed the Church of England trying to kill anyone lately.)

DioneTheDiabolist Thu 18-Feb-16 23:03:16

To the best of my knowledge Bolognese, heaven, nirvana etc. are believed to be places of fulfillment and joy, where you will be united with your loved ones. Why would anyone say "no" to that?

EdithSimcox Thu 18-Feb-16 23:11:59

Why would someone try to kill me if the cinema is showing a 1 min ad reel of some random people reciting a prayer? I really don't know what point you are trying make.

AlanPacino Thu 18-Feb-16 23:32:46

My biggest objections to the C of E ad are:

If they wish to advertise they should be taxed like any company.
Prayer has not been proven to make a demonstrative difference and offers false hope to vulnerable people.

Bolognese Fri 19-Feb-16 15:58:00

Crikey, logical thinking is a lot absent from this forum.

The reason the christian advert was not allowed to be shown at the cinema was because if they allowed one religion to advertise (even for 1 minute) they would have to allow all religions to advertise and someone would end up getting offended.

We know from history that offended people from differing religions are willing to massacre theater goers, artists, children, gays and pretty much everyone. I have been in a cinema in England where extra security and precautions had to be taken because of concerns, dont even mention America. So that is why religion should not be forced on cinema goers.

DioneTheDiabolist Which heaven would I be saying no to? The one filled with murderers and rapists who repented before they died, that doesn't have all my loved ones in it because they are atheists, where I am forced into eternal servitude of a deity that sends billions of people to an eternal hell. Or maybe the one with 72 virgins and rivers of wine?

Who would want to go to a place like that?

DioneTheDiabolist Fri 19-Feb-16 22:34:38

Bolognese, as we established earlier, there would be no atheists. God would have been proven to exist.

Which heaven? The one where you feel peace, joy and fulfilment and are reunited with your loved ones. Why would you say no to that?

Bolognese Mon 22-Feb-16 16:12:34

Dione, if God existed it would be his heaven, or am I missing something?

I know no religion that lets you make up your own idea of an after life and has zero restrictions on going there, sign me up. Can I just bypass the deity and go there? Can I force people to join me who dont want to, do they get there own heaven and are only visiting mine?

What age will I be, a nubile 18 yo or a wrinkly old 100 yo? What state will any unborn children be in, adults or babies? Can I commit any crime I want and there is no retribution, can I revisit earth? What if I get bored and want to kill myself, am I stuck there forever? Will I still be able to get drunk and smoke joints? Can I create my own universe and become a god myself? Perhaps challenge other deities? Would god have a veto over my heaven because if it does then it could be a trap!

Dione your fantasy doesn't seem to be well thought out.

Pepperpot99 Mon 22-Feb-16 16:19:38

Gosh Bolognese you are bitter aren't you?

Of course the church will pray for RD. Praying is what religious people and organisations do. If there had been a great big fat silence people would immediately have jumped on that as tantamount to being glad he'd had a stroke.

Then again.....why get so frothy at the mouth about a measly tweet, of all things? it's hardly earth shatteringly important is it? I can think of so many more serious and pressing issues - can't you? wink

AlanPacino Mon 22-Feb-16 20:34:36

Why would you say no to that?

For the same reason you 'have said no' to all the heavens of all the other religions ever known. Because you have no reason to think it's real.

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 22-Feb-16 21:57:53

Bolognese, I know of no heavens that mention unhappy residents. Do you? Heavens tend to be described as places of eternal happiness.

So why do you find the prospect of a heaven such an unpleasant one?

IPityThePontipines Mon 22-Feb-16 22:15:25

Last time people were killed in the cinema, it was during a Batman film, shall we ban those?

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