Richard Dawkins is backing a scheme to send a commemorative copy of the King James Bible to every state school, but only because he thinks it will turn kids off the scriptures.
Last week Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, began sending commemorative copies of the Bibles to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Version.
Professor Dawkins says that the initiative is justified because of the historic text’s impact on the English language.
The renowned atheist even said that he would have made a financial contribution to the £370,000 scheme if he had been approached.
However he made clear that his underlying motive was the hope that the scheme would turn youngsters off the Bible.
Prof Dawkins, writing in yesterday’s edition of the Observer, said: “I have an ulterior motive for wishing to contribute to Gove’s scheme.
“People who do not know the Bible well have been gulled into thinking it is a good guide to morality.”
He continued: “Whatever else the Bible might be – and it really is a great work of literature – it is not a moral book and young people need to learn that important fact because they are very frequently told the opposite.”
In November the Queen attended a special service at Westminster Abbey marking the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.
During the service the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams described the King James Bible as an “extraordinary text” which remains of “abiding importance”.