An Audience with the Pope
By VARIOUS - NEW HUMANIST
Added: Wed, 08 Sep 2010 10:49:32 UTC
If you were invited to address Benedict XVI during his UK visit, what would you say to him? Richard Dawkins, Philip Pullman, Claire Rayner, Ben Goldacre and many more take part in our Pope quiz. Illustrations by Ralph Steadman.
Official welcome on behalf of British atheists
Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist: "Mr Ratzinger, as head of the world’s second most evil religion you are not welcome. True, your church recently “pardoned” Galileo (four centuries late), and eventually revoked its historic anti-Semitism. But the equally long-established misogyny remains. On almost all issues concerned with sex, contraception, population and reproduction your stance is illiberal, inhumane and immoral, and your propaganda claim that condoms don’t protect against AIDS is scientifically inaccurate and murderously cynical. In criminally shielding child-raping priests from justice you have placed the welfare of your church ahead of your victims. Go home to your tinpot Mussolini-concocted principality, and don’t come back."
Claire Rayner, broadcaster and campaigner: "I have no language with which to adequately describe Joseph Alois Ratzinger, AKA the Pope. In all my years as a campaigner I have never felt such animus against any individual as I do against this creature. His views are so disgusting, so repellent and so hugely damaging to the rest of us, that the only thing to do is to get rid of him."
Great minds think . . . clink
Francis Wheen, journalist and broadcaster: "You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence. In short, sonny – you’re nicked."
Johann Hari, journalist: "I am placing you under arrest for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and for your central role in the systematic cover-up of the rape of children across five continents. You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not say now something you may later rely on in court. Wait there - I’ve called for a police officer to take you down to the cells."
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But the key thing to note in all these cases is that it is no longer just the religious who would inhibit our freedom of expression: increasingly, secular bodies are buying into this invidious idea too, all in the name of 'tolerance' or 'community relations' or 'respect'.