***Update***: Dawkins’ full speech can be read here.
Richard Dawkins spoke at the “Protest the Pope” rally the other day. He spends quite a bit of time explaining (and debunking) that whole “Hitler was an atheist” claim. My friend Josh Kutchinsky passes along the video:
“Joseph Ratzinger is an enemy of humanity. He is an enemy of children whose bodies he allowed to be raped and whose minds he has encouraged to be infected with guilt. It’s embarrassingly clear that the Church is less concerned with saving child bodies from rapists than with saving priestly souls from hell. And most concerned with saving the long-term reputation of the church itself.”
Damn. Harsh words, but I can’t say I disagree with them.
Josh adds in an email:
Everyone who attended, as you would expect, did so as a free-thinking individual. They came with their own order of priority of concerns. Some were religious. I strolled along chatting very amiably with a guy, similarly bearded, older than me, who told me that he was “Church of England” and would be telling his church congregation all about the event.
He wasn’t anti-Catholic but shared our concerns about equality and human rights and, of course, about child abuse. I spoke with a young man, a Muslim, who supported secularism and was totally opposed to stoning as a punishment. In the main, people were free thinkers, atheists, agnostics, Humanists, secularists and human rights defenders. All were angry but in a positive and friendly way. They were angry about child abuse. They were angry about homophobia and sexism and many other of the unpleasant, unkind and disgusting attitudes, not least on secularism and the beliefs and views of people like us, opined by this Pope in his rigid interpretation of Catholic dogma. And, of course, we were protesting the fact that his odious views were, in effect, being honoured by this state visit.
The numbers I’ve heard for the Protest the Pope rally seem to hover around 20,000 people… but even if that number is a bit off, the fact remains that there are thousands of people who oppose what this Pope stands for, and the more of them who speak out, the better off we’ll all be. The worst thing we can do is be silent about his dangerous policies and irrational beliefs.