- The Washington Times - Monday, June 12, 2017

Author Richard Dawkins told an audience last week that Islam is the “most evil” religion in the world while scolding President Donald Trump for his anti-terror rhetoric.

Attendees at this year’s Cheltenham Science Festival in Gloucestershire, England, received more than a lecture on evolution during Mr. Dawkins’ prepared remarks. The biologist, on hand Sunday for the June 6-11 event, said it would be a mistake to create a moral equivalence between religions.

“It’s tempting to say all religions are bad, and I do say all religions are bad, but it’s a worse temptation to say all religions are equally bad because they’re not,” the “Science in the Soul” author said, the U.K. Telegraph reported Sunday. “If you look at the actual impact that different religions have on the world, it’s quite apparent that at present the most evil religion in the world has to be Islam.”

The author, whose views mirror fellow “new atheists” like Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens, was quick to add a caveat.

“It’s terribly important to modify that because of course that doesn’t mean all Muslims are evil, very far from it,” he said. “Individual Muslims suffer more from Islam than anyone else. They suffer from the homophobia, the misogyny, the joylessness which is preached by extreme Islam, ISIS and the Iranian regime.”

Mr. Dawkins then criticized Mr. Trump for inflammatory anti-terrorism rhetoric.

“So it is a major evil in the world, we do have to combat it, but we don’t do what Trump did and say all Muslims should be shut out of the country. That’s draconian, that’s illiberal, inhumane and wicked. I am against Islam not least because of the unpleasant effects it has on the lives of Muslims.”

Mr. Trump has never called for all Muslims to be prohibited from the U.S. His policy preference focuses on limiting immigration from six Muslim-majority nations — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — while the vetting process for visas is improved.

The evolutionary biologist also told his audience that people should stop referring to evolution as a theory; he suggested using “fact” instead.

“The word theory is clearly misunderstood,” he said, the newspaper reported. “Evolution is a fact, and there is absolutely no question or doubt about that. Look at the evidence, it is overwhelming.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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