Sir Elton: Ban organised religion

Sir Elton John has said he would like to see all organised religion banned and accused it of trying to "turn hatred towards gay people".

Organised religion lacked compassion and turned people into "hateful lemmings", he told the Observer.

But the musician said he loved the idea of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the beautiful stories about it which he had learned at Sunday school.

And he said there were many gays he knew who loved their religion.

'Doesn't work'

His comments were made in a special gay edition of the Observer Music Monthly Magazine, where he was interviewed by Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears.

"I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people," he said. "Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays.

"But there are so many people I know who are gay and love their religion."

According to the singer-songwriter, 59, his solution would be to "ban religion completely, even though there are some wonderful things about it".

He added: "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."

He also said that the problems experienced by many gays in former nations of the Soviet bloc, such as Poland, Latvia and Russia were caused by the church supporting anti-gay movements.

'God's people'

And he called on the leaders of major religions to hold a "conclave" to discuss the fate of the world - which he said was "near escalating to World War Three".

"I said this after 9/11 and people thought I was nuts," he said. "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."

He also said he would continue to campaign for gay rights.

"I'm going to fight for them, whether I do it silently behind the scenes or so vocally that I get locked up."

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