Elton John: 'I Would Ban Religion Completely,' Turns People Into 'Hateful Lemmings'
Associated Press reports openly gay pop-music legend Elton John offered his opinions on religion:
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 towards 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.”
The AP dispatch is awfully short for something so awfully strong. Googling shows the interview actually took place August 21 at Elton John's house in the south of France, and John was interviewed alongside Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters (whose first hit sounded like an Elton John carbon copy.) It's a shame that this interview didn't emerge before the election, so that people could have developed a better understanding of how the libertine left now in the ascendancy really doesn't believe in freedom of speech and assembly when it comes to 'homophobic' Christianity.
Here's the larger statement in context from the actual interview in the Observer Music Monthly, as Shears said he likes integrated dance clubs with both gay and straight people, and John replied:
I just find it more human. We should all be together. I've got this really naive idea of what life should be like - it's an idealistic idea but it's completely integrated. We can't keep thinking of gay people as being ostracised; we can't keep thinking of Muslim people as being [ostracised] because of the fundamentalism that occurs in Islam. Muslim people have to do something about speaking up about it. We can't judge a book by its cover.
From my point of view I would ban religion completely, even though there are some wonderful things about it. I love the idea of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the beautiful stories about it, which I loved in Sunday school and I collected all the little stickers and put them in my book. But the reality is that organised religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate.
The world is near escalating to World War Three and where are the leaders of each religion? Why aren't they having a conclave; why aren't they coming together? I said this after 9/11 and people thought I was nuts: instead of more violence why isn't there a [meeting of religious leaders]. It's all got to be dialogue - that's the only way. Get everybody from each religion together and say 'Listen, this can't go on. Why do we have all this hatred?'
We are all God's people; we have to get along and the [religious leaders] have to lead the way. If they don't do it, who else is going to do it? They're not going to do it and it's left to musicians or to someone else to deal with it. It's like the peace movement in the Sixties - musicians got through [to people] by getting out there and doing peace concerts but we don't seem to do them any more. We seem to be doing fundraisers for Africa and everything like that but I think peace is really important. If John Lennon were alive today he'd be leading it with a vengeance.
There's also this passage, where John sounds another oddly sympathetic note toward Islam:
Elton John: I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people. Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays. But there are so many Christian people I know who are gay and love their religion ...
Jake Shears: My Mom's a Christian and she loves me; that whole side of my family is Christian and I have no problem with it. I just feel we need to stop worrying about pro-gay movements and start worrying about fundamentalist movements. It's not just about how gay people are treated - it's about how people are treated in general.
John: You suggested that yourselves, the Pet Shop Boys and myself should play a Gay Pride concert in Russia. I think that's a great idea 'cause in [former Soviet Bloc] countries such as Poland, Latvia and Russia there is a huge anti-gay movement and a lot of it is started by the church.
Shears: Yeah, it's very important to do something like that because you've got the opportunity, being who you are. You can go into a place like [Russia] and at least put the point across that [we are] paying attention to what is going on right now and we're watching.
John: Exactly. I cannot stand any kind of racism or religious hatred; there's so much fucking negativity with people. They used to put gay people in a cupboard but now they're doing it to [certain] religious people. What we should be doing as musicians is trying to bring people together. Your idea for a 'Gay Pride' concert in Moscow would be a brilliant idea.
Hat tip to Dan Gainor, who liked this part of the interview, where John said: "People come to me and I'm a bit like the Queen Mother. I never get those problems. I don't know what it is with me; people treat me very reverently. It was the same when Dave [Furnish] and I had our civil union - I was expecting the odd flour bomb and there wasn't. Dave and I as a couple seem to be the acceptable face of gayness, and that's great." I see that was highlighted in the UPI dispatch.