Richard Dawkins has clarified his statements, and issued an apology. I would like to thank him for taking time to realize how what he said could be harmful to victims of sexual abuse.
Thank you to all who signed!
We, the undersigned atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, and other non-believers, hereby condemn Richard Dawkins' continued comments trivializing what he termed 'mild' sexual abuse of children. Dr. Dawkins is seen by many as a representative of the atheist community -- but when it comes to his dismissive comments on the incredibly serious topic of sexual abuse, the atheist community emphatically does not stand with him.
Dr. Dawkins has publicly compared childhood sexual abuse favorably to teaching children about Hell since at least the publication of The God Delusion. He has extrapolated from his relatively trauma-free experience with sexual abuse to make general comments about the experiences of other victims. These comments have received serious criticism from victim advocates as misrepresenting the truth and for undercutting support for victims.
In a recent interview with The Times Magazine, he reiterated these ideas, saying that he could not condemn the “mild paedophilia” he experienced at boarding school. “I am very conscious that you can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours." We are very glad that Dr. Dawkins did not suffer any 'lasting damage' from the abuse he experienced as a child. But he does not have the right to trivialize the very real damage experienced by other victims. When it comes to dismissive comments on the incredibly serious topic of sexual abuse, the atheist community emphatically does not stand with Dr. Dawkins.
Those who have signed this petition vehemently oppose Dr. Dawkins' trivialization of sexual abuse victims. As humanists, freethinkers, atheists, and agnostics we wish to voice our opposition to his insulting vitriol. We find these statements derogatory, dismissive and harmful to victims of sexual abuse and view his ideas on this subject abhorrent. As such, we utterly repudiate them.