Famed evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins made a claim over the weekend that will likely draw the ire of religious people across the globe: That forcing religion upon children is a form of child abuse.

Rather than “indoctrination,” Dawkins called for a form of education in which children merely learn that different people embrace various theological claims.

“What a child should be taught is that religion exists; that some people believe this and some people believe that,” he told an audience at England’s Chipping Norton Literary Festival on Sunday, according to the Daily Mail.

Famed Atheist Richard Dawkins Proclaims: Forcing Religion on Kids Is Child Abuse

Headliner Richard Dawkins, founder of The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, speaks during the National Atheist Organization’s ‘Reason Rally’ March 24, 2012 on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Credit: Getty Images North America

While advocating this more relativistic view of the world’s religions, Dawkins explicitly said that labeling a child with a specific faith is problematic.

“What a child should never be taught is that you are a Catholic or Muslim child, therefore that is what you believe. That’s child abuse,” he added.

Despite making this shocking claim, Dawkins did apparently tell the audience that religion helps children with understanding literature and that teaching about the world’s many faiths is important.

“There is a value in teaching children about religion. You cannot really appreciate a lot of literature without knowing about religion,” he added. But we must not indoctrinate our children.”

Famed Atheist Richard Dawkins Proclaims: Forcing Religion on Kids Is Child Abuse

Photo Credit: AP

Religious people, though, would argue that advancing Dawkins’ views on evolution and the lack of a deity would also constitute a form of indoctrination, especially if these elements are trumped as “reason” and held above theological standing.

Previously, Dawkins has made other unpalatable comments about faith and religion. He has targeted the Mormon faith, called creationists “ignorant” — and he said that Jesus Christ would have been an atheist if he knew what scientists know today. And that’s only a portion of his contentious commentary.

(H/T: Daily Mail)

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