Richard Dawkins criticises PCC plan for faith director

Prof Richard Dawkins
Image caption Richard Dawkins asked what is so special about religious "communities" that they need, or deserve, a special liaison officer

Plans to appoint a faith director by the Northamptonshire police commissioner have been criticised by Professor Richard Dawkins.

The prominent scientist and atheist questioned why religious groups deserve a special liaison officer.

A spokesman for Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds said the post would help community initiatives as well as those that are faith-based.

The new director will be paid between £35,000 and £42,000.

The budget of the new office is £70,000, which includes the salary.

'Not exclusively about religion'

Prof Dawkins, the author of The God Delusion, told the BBC: "No doubt he'll also be liaising with leaders of the 'community' of stamp collectors, the 'community' of bird twitchers, and the 'community' of chub fuddlers (a fishing term).

"Sarcasm aside, what is so special about religious 'communities' that they need, or deserve, a special liaison officer, any more than the rest of us?"

But freethinker, writer and former police officer Stevyn Colgan said he had seen how work between the police and faith groups could help "heal" troubled communities.

He said faith leaders were "often very helpful as a resource".

Mr Colgan said: "Community pastors, for example, carry a lot of weight."

But he added that the police "have to be shown as impartial".

Peter Heaton, a spokesman for the PCC, said: "This is about faith groups and community groups.

"It could include a religious group in Wellingborough or a Women's Institute in Oundle. It is about supporting communities and not exclusively about religion."

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