Organized religion fuels anti-gay discrimination and other forms of bias, pop star Elton John said in an interview published Saturday.
"I think religion has always tried to turn hatred toward gay people," John said in the Observer newspaper's Music Monthly Magazine. "Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays."
"But there are so many people I know who are gay and love their religion," he said. "From my point of view, I would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate."
A very astute observation on Elton's part.
The timing of his criticism could not be better, as Richard Dawkins' new book is selling like hotcakes worldwide (I am half-way through my copy) and the atheism movement in general is picking up speed. More and more prominent social figures are throwing their religious criticisms in to the ring. Even South Park had a go at the atheism movement in general, and portrayed the future as groups of warring atheist states (notice that states still existed in their vision of the future). If South Park does a two-part lampooning of atheism, then obviously the topic is a rather large blip on the radar screen of contemporary social consciousness.
However, I disagree with Elton's conclusion that religion should be banned. I certainly would not want religion banned, and I think that Elton is missing the point by displaying the same intolerant attitude that he finds so distasteful in organized religion.
If an idea or position is banned outright, then it cannot be fairly evaluated on its own merits by individuals, and therefore cannot be legitimately rejected. Therefore, it cannot be legitimately compared against competing ideas, nor can it be legitimately ridiculed or satirized.
Ideas must stand or fall on their own merits, not by fiat. Passing decrees and fiats are what dictators and communists do. Letting things stand or fall on their own merit is what scientists and lovers of reality do. It’s what Dawkins, Hawking, Einstein, Russell, etc, would do.
Elton is expressing statist sentiments to an ideology that is hostile to his kind. While it is good to see prominent social figures like Elton John being openly critical of religion, it is bad to see people wishing to ban any ideology outright, and it is especially bad to see these intolerant, statist sentiments being linked up with atheism. The reason is that religious people will point at Elton's recent comments and say, "See? We are being persecuted! Elton wants to bring back the days of Stalin and Mao and prevent us from practicing our faith! Death Camps are the atheists answer!" Unfortunately, nobody will realize that death camps are the answer of the statist and the collectivist (virtual religions in their own right), not the answer of the atheist.
If one wants to find the atheist's answer, they should not go looking for it at an Elton John concert.
What the atheism movement needs right now is a prominent atheistic Anarchist in the spotlight; someone who realizes, and can articulate, that a nihilistic God and a collectivist state are two sides of the same coin. Until then, the atheist movement will have consistency problems, because so many atheists are statists.
As the atheist movement continues to gain momentum, I fear that the state will become a bigger and bigger hindrance to its message. We must link godlessness and statelessness not only in the minds of atheists, but also in the minds of the common God fearing voter. Accomplishing this link will not only improve the purity and consistency of the atheist message, but will also pre-empt many of the criticisms being hurled at it today.
Crossposted at Goosing the Antithesis.