Thousands turned out in London to protest the state visit of Pope Benedict in September. Turnout was increased by the disgust so many feel over revelations of child abuse and other scandals that have been covered up by the Catholic Church hierarchy. Many Catholics who oppose Benedict’s views on birth control, homosexuality and women’s rights also participated.
The gathering heard speeches from campaigners against religious oppression including atheist Richard Dawkins, Gay liberationist Peter Tatchell, and Iranian Marxist feminist Maryam Namazie.
Tatchell pointed out, “Unlike the Pope, we practice tolerance. We did not witch-hunt Liberation Theologians in Latin America; the Vatican did!”
Namazie’s speech was especially significant in that it drew the parallel between the Papal state authority and the fundamentalist Islamic regime in Iran.
“Look around! Everywhere you see the murder and mayhem supplied by religion. Every second of every minute of every hour of every day we see religion’s ‘corrective’ supplied to the world, from sexual research to family planning to parallel legal systems whether of shariah law or the Vatican.
“The Pope speaks of ‘secular intolerance.’ There is nothing more intolerant than religion. It doesn’t tolerate Gays, women, sex, music, or wearing what you want to wear. It is a crime to be a human being in Iran, and in many cultures under Islamism. We choose humanity, while the Pope and the Islamists choose religious dogma at the expense of humanity.”