Left Outside

The Times: Now comes in “stupid”

When it comes to missing the point, it is hard to miss it harder or more intensely that in this piece from The Times’ Ruth Gledhill.

Children who front Richard Dawkins’ atheist ads are evangelicals

The two children chosen to front Richard Dawkins’s latest assault on God could not look more free of the misery he associates with religious baggage. With the slogan “Please don’t label me. Let me grow up and choose for myself”, the youngsters with broad grins seem to be the perfect advertisement for the new atheism being promoted by Professor Dawkins and the British Humanist Association.

Except that they are about as far from atheism as it is possible to be. The Times can reveal that Charlotte, 8, and Ollie, 7, are from one of the country’s most devout Christian families.

The British Humanist Society have in the past run bus adverts proclaiming “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Sick of adverts informing non-believers they were heading for hell, they decided to strike back in to defend the godless, moral majority.

Following the success of the last campaign they have decided to run a new one on an altogether more serious topic.

The new campaign is at least in part inspired by this passage from Dawkin’s The God Delusion (excerpt from Friendly Atheist) (H/T Joé McKen):

At Christmas-time one year my daily newspaper, the Independent, was looking for a seasonal image and found a heart-warmingly ecumenical one at a school nativity play. The Three Wise Men were played by, as the caption glowingly said, Shadbreet (a Sikh), Musharraf (a Muslim) and Adele (a Christian), all aged four. Charming? Heart-warming? No, it is not, it is neither; it is grotesque […]


Imagine an identical photograph, with the caption changed as follows: “Shadbreet (a Keynesian), Musharaff (a Monetarist) and Adele (a Marxist), all aged four.” Wouldn’t this be a candidate for irate letters of protest? It certainly should be.

Children are innocent, they are yet to develop the power to choose for themselves, and so it is unfair to arbitrarily label them with the philosophical beliefs of their parents. Nothing controversial here, not least if you’re a Baptist.

This campaign has generated a lot of hot air from morons comparing Dawkins to Stalin and Hitler. But little can compare to the utter lunacy, the true idiocy of the Times today.

The headlines says it all really. In bold type across a page is emblazoned: Children who front Richard Dawkins’ atheist ads are evangelicals.

No. They aren’t. They are children. Let me reiterate once again; if these children cannot be Monetarists or Marxists then they cannot be evangelicals.

This is the whole point of the campaign! And for around 700 words Ruth Gledhill misses this point, again and again and again.

She even quotes a demolition of her argument:

The British Humanist Association said that it did not matter whether the children were Christians [LO: they are not Christian]. “That’s one of the points of our campaign,” said Andrew Copson, the association’s education director[LO: Well, duh!].

Not only that, but her sub-editor thought this piece was cogent enough to be put on page seven. Her editor thought it was worthy of printing at all. It is not worth the fish and chip wrapping it is printed on (in fact, I don’t think I’d want my chips wrapped in a turd sandwich like this).

This argument falls over before it is even put up. It is a nonsense which is deconstruction by twelve words from the Humanist Society and the picture of a cute, philosophically agnostic 8 year old.

Not that Ruth Gledhill knows that. Oh no, she’s just written a terribly clever article for The Times.

Filed under: Society, The Media, ,

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Paul Sagar

Left Outside is always worth a read for passionate, and frequently irreverent, analysis and comment.

Sunny Hundal

Oi! Enough of the cheek!

Chris Dillow

Left Outside is, I think, entirely wrong

John Band

This might be the least well informed piece I’ve read on LC, which is quite an accolade.

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