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Christian sports workers degree ridiculed

Richard Dawkins, the best-selling author, yesterday ridiculed a new postgraduate course for Christian sports workers by comparing it to a Monty Python sketch.
The best-selling author is a renowned atheist
The evolutionary biologist and renowned atheist thought it was a joke when he heard about a master's degree in sport and Christian outreach at Gloucestershire University.

The £3,000-a-year course, which is the first of its kind in Britain, has the backing of the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey. It is designed to help Christians build community relations through sport.

But Mr Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, could barely conceal his shock after being told of such a course. "What's a Christian sports worker when it's at home?" he asked.

"I'm in favour of universities running real subjects for degrees and I cannot believe that the University of Gloucestershire is actually running this course for Christian sports workers. I can only imagine it is some kind of Monty Python sketch," he said.

Dr Andy Pitchford, a lecturer in sports development at the university, said: "I think Richard has some interesting things to say, but he doesn't understand the history between sport and churches in this country.

"For many centuries churches have played a central role in community life and have an intimate relationship with sporting institutions.

"A third of the Premiership clubs were founded by churches. I understand Richard's surprise, but he shouldn't dismiss it out of hand."

The course, which begins in September, will offer a post-graduate certificate for those working as volunteers, and a diploma and MA for professional outreach and youth workers.

Up to 15 students are expected to enrol.



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