Richard Dawkins in not some crank. He's one of the foremost ethologists and evolutionary biologists of our time.
He is also a very intentional thorn in the side of religious people and their leaders.
Dawkins has proposed that the current pope be tried as a war criminal for many offenses including opposition to birth control in poor nations (where the alternative for limiting population is starvation.)
After 9-11 he was quoted in the Guardian:
Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where's the harm? September 11th changed all that. Revealed faith is not harmless nonsense, it can be lethally dangerous nonsense. Dangerous because it gives people unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness. Dangerous because it gives them false courage to kill themselves, which automatically removes normal barriers to killing others. Dangerous because it teaches enmity to others labelled only by a difference of inherited tradition. And dangerous because we have all bought into a weird respect, which uniquely protects religion from normal criticism. Let's now stop being so damned respectful!
He's right. We have no problem arguing public policy, vigorously and endlessly. Why is religion so, um, sacrosanct?
Why are atheists more fearful of coming out of the closet than gays? Buddhism has no god, and Hinduism doesn't require one, so apparently godlessness can be respectable. But for God's sake, don't tell my parents!