Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Separate church and state

As featured today by the lovely Henry over at Barbarella's Galaxy, when Our Glorious Leader Queen Madge was asked (by the slobbering hordes of fans on some social network that escapes me completely, Reddit):

"What should religion and politics do to help World Peace?"

Madonna answered:

"Not get involved with one another. Separate church and state!"

By coincidence (was she there?!), this was one of the slogans I and a couple of hundred others were chanting last Saturday as I joined the lovely people of GALHA (Gay & Lesbian Humanist Association) to traverse through London in the wind and drizzle - for the protest march and rally for the Secular Europe Campaign...

The camaraderie among the marchers was brilliant - we chanted, we waved our makeshift placards (mine said "Should Governments do God?") at passing tourist buses, and we congregated in our designated spot opposite Downing Street (we had to oust a protest against Britain's support for the repressive Bahraini regime that had overrun...) to hear a selection of excellent speakers - including philosopher and senior lecturer in the University of London Stephen Law, the ever-inspiring Sue Cox of Survivors Voice, Nina Sankari of the Polish Rationalist Association, Charlie Klendjian of the The Lawyers' Secular Society and (of course) our very own Adam Knowles (Chair of GALHA).

All fabulous. All motivating. All crystal clear in their dedication to exposing what is intrinsically wrong about the way religion has an excessive influence over our lives, our freedoms and our legal system in Europe.

Such a shame I had to leave the rally early (I was frozen to the core and my bladder was determined to force me away), and therefore missed (among many others) the keynote speaker Professor AC Grayling - a personal hero of mine:

The campaign itself is an annual effort that sees many diverse groups united in demanding an end to religious privileges and asking that the European institutions must remain secular.

Starting in 2008, the Secular Europe Campaign has a special focus on the Vatican, given the enormous political and economical power it holds, but aims at representing all the issues around secularism and human rights, including opposition to state-funded faith schools, rejection of religious tribunals and support to equal rights for LGBT citizens.

We protest against:
  • the privileged status of the churches under Article 17 of the TFEU (Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union);
  • the privileged status of churches in countries where they are established;
  • the special status of the Vatican at the United Nations and its economic and political privileges across Europe;
  • state-funded religious schools.
We promote:
  • freedom of religion, freedom of conscience and freedom of speech;
  • women’s equality and reproductive rights;
  • equal rights for LGBT people in all the European Union;
  • a secular Europe – democratic, peaceful, open and just, with no privilege for religious or belief organisations;
  • one law for all, no religious exemptions from the law;
  • state neutrality in matters of religion and belief.

A cause and a campaign dear to my heart, and an occasion I support every year, come wind, rain or whatever.


[PS I would have posted about this earlier, but despite my optimism my own photos from this fab day remain - stubbornly - on a spare hard drive that has now decided not to work with our new PC (so I have had to retrieve some from the Web). Groan...]


  1. at a regional coffee shop, they offer a ten cent discount if you can answer their daily trivia question. today's question was, "what is the most popular first name in the world?"

    my guess was john. i was wrong. the girl informed me that he answer was mohamed. my immediate response to her was, "well then, we're fucked." she got mad at me & started yammering about indians.

    1. The campaign stands against all repression of human rights that is engendered in the name of "faith", whatever that "faith" may be, including condemnation of such evils as Shariah law and supporting the rights of women and minorities in countries outside Europe. There is a wider political debate in the world about the perceived threat posed by militant and fanatical religious fundamentalism, and the fear that Western nations have about the rise of influence of religious zealots in the East. A bigger subject altogether... Jx

  2. Somehow, Madonna always manages to be the voice of reason in a crazy world!

    What a great campaign too. And thank you for the shout out!

    1. It's a pleasure...

      I will continue to support the Secular Europe Campaign as long as there is a Pope in power who condems our lifestyles, a Bishop who compares gay marriage to incest, a Chief Rabbi who advises that aborting gay babies is a good thing, or an Imam who sanctions gay men to be hanged or stoned to death.

      I think Madonna agrees :-)


  3. Aborting gay babies is a good thing????? The hatred in some people has no limits...


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