Atheist Richard Dawkins has found an unlikely ally in his battle against KPFA, a public radio station in Berkeley, California, after it canceled the famed atheist's planned appearance over his "abusive" comments regarding Islam: Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham.
Ham, who is also the President of the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter, recently took to Facebook to share his thoughts on the controversy, which he said "shows the increasing intolerance by the left to free speech."
Ham pointed out that in Dawkins' famed book "The God Delusion", the evolutionary biologist refers to the Christian God as "the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."
"Now that's obviously abusive speech against Christianity--against the Creator God of the universe," Ham contended. "However, KPFA would not disinvite Dawkins for making such abusive comments about the Christian faith--but when he mentions aspects of Islam in a negative way, well that's different! So KPFA is not against abusive speech if it's against Christianity!"
Ham said the same sort of situation regularly happens in education: "If a teacher in a public school in the USA quotes the Koran, or Hindu or Buddhist writings--that's ok," he argued. "But if a teacher quotes the Bible, they are likely to be fired or at least disciplined in some way."
As reported, Dawkins was scheduled to discuss his new book, "Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist," at the August 9 event, to which tickets were sold as part of a fundraiser for the station, KPFA.
However, the public station said it decided to cancel the event after members of the Berkeley community brought Dawkins' remarks on Islam to their attention.
"The speech we reviewed included assertions during his current book tour that Islam is the 'most evil' of world religions, Twitter posts denigrating Muslim scholars as non-scholars and other tweets," the station said.
"We serve a broad and diverse community, including many Muslims living under threat of persecution and violence in the current political context," KPFA said. "Islamophobic rhetoric stokes that threat. While Mr. Dawkins has every right to express his views, KPFA has every right not to sponsor and profit from an event spreading them."
In response, Dawkins pointed out that he's "known as a frequent critic of Christianity" but has "never been de-platformed for that."
"Why do you give Islam a free pass? Why is it fine to criticize Christianity but not Islam?" Dawkins wrote in an open letter he shared on his website.
He called the decision "truly astonishing" and said that he had "never used abusive speech against Islam", adding that while he has called Islamism "vile", Islamism is not the same as Islam.
"I have criticized the appalling misogyny and homophobia of Islam, I have criticized the murdering of apostates for no crime other than their disbelief," he explained. "Far from attacking Muslims, I understand - as perhaps you do not - that Muslims themselves are the prime victims of the oppressive cruelties of Islamism, especially Muslim women."
Ham concluded that the row between KPFA and Dawkins illustrates that there's "obviously an extreme bias against anything Christian that is growing in our culture."
"Why is that? Because it's a spiritual battle, and sinful man knows that God exists and we all have an inbuilt conscience--a knowledge of right and wrong God put in our hearts (Romans 1,2)," the Creationist said. "And Romans 1 tells us that those who rebel against God 'suppress the truth in unrighteousness.' It's a reminder that those who oppose the truth of God's Word and the gospel will do all they can to actively suppress that truth."
Harvard professor and author Steven Pinker aso came out in support of Dawkins, writing to KPFA that their decision was "intolerant, ill-reasoned, and ignorant".
"Dawkins is one of the great thinkers of the 20th and 21st century. He has criticised doctrines of Islam, together with doctrines of other religions, but criticism is not 'abuse'," said Pinker. "People may get offended and hurt by honest criticism, but that cannot possibly be a justification for censoring the critic, or KPFA would be shut down because of all the people it has hurt and offended over the decades."
Pinker said that the move "handed a precious gift to the political right, who can say that left-leaning media outlets enforce mindless conformity to narrow dogma, and are no longer capable of thinking through basic intellectual distinctions".
The Center for Inquiry, which merged with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science last year, and on whose board of directors Dawkins sits, called the cancellation "unconscionable [and] baseless", according to The Guardian.