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article imageLeading atheist Dawkins enters fray over Pope email joke

By Andrew John     Dec 2, 2010 in Religion
The outspoken atheism campaigner Professor Richard Dawkins has entered the fray over a Scottish soccer referee who was fired for forwarding an email joke about the Pope.
The Scottish Football Association fired Hugh Dallas and four other employees for circulating the email, which “referred to the recent visit of the Pope in the context of the child abuse scandal within the Roman Catholic Church,” says the Telegraph.
The paper quotes Dawkins as having written on his website: “Hugh Dallas, head of referee development for the Scottish Football Association, has been sacked because he passed on, by email, a joke about the Pope.
“His dismissal was called for by a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland. This nasty little weasel is called Peter Kearney, Director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office.
“Similarly, the chief executive of the Scottish Football Association, responsible for this craven giving-in to Catholic censorship is Stewart Regan. The address of this coward is Scottish Football Association, Hampden Park, Glasgow.”
Dawkins later said he had been a bit hard on the association. But if anything he didn’t go far enough in “expressing contempt for Peter Kearney” of the Scottish Catholic Media Office, which has offices at 5 St Vincent Place in Glasgow.
Dawkins later responded to comments on his website article, in which he said: “The fact that sectarian Christianity even manages to infect football, in places such as Glasgow that have imported Irish political strife, should not lessen our contempt. Kearney was cynically exploiting Glasgow’s traditional sectarian enmities in order to further his Catholic agenda and ruin a man’s career.”
He goes on:
There is no reason to suppose that Dallas was being sectarian in forwarding the joke. Most plausibly he was as revolted as all decent people are by the Pope’s illegal protection of Catholic child-rapists.
What I didn’t know – and this is something I really have learned from reading the comments here – is that Kearney has a track record of doing this kind of thing. His 2008 claim that to dance the Hokey-Cokey is a “faith hate crime” is a good candidate for Ridicule Corner.
Perhaps I went too far in describing the action of the Scottish Football Association as cowardly. But if anything I didn’t go far enough in expressing contempt for Peter Kearney of the Scottish Catholic Media Office.
Dawkins wants people to swamp the Catholic Media Office and the Scottish Football Association with the joke email: “My suggestion is that we should do our best to make this joke go viral, beginning by sending hundreds of copies of it to these two addresses.
“But there are probably funnier jokes along the same lines, and I would encourage you to send as many as you can find.”
More about Richard Dawkins, Scottish football association, Catholic Church, Scottish catholic media office, Peter kearney
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