"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik


UK secularists plan big protest against Vatican interference in politics

As secular protesters in Spain clash with pilgrims at the Vatican’s World Youth Day, preparations are under way for a large-scale protest in Britain against the encroachment of religion into civil society.

The Secular Europe Campaign will march through London on 17 September, a year after the large-scale march during the Pope’s visit to the UK.

Marco Tranchino, who is organising the Secular Europe Campaign, said: “Wherever the Pope goes now he will be sure to face criticism and protest. We want to keep the impetus going that started last year at the Protest the Pope event, and encourage all people who believe in separation of religion from the state to join us.”

Mr Tranchino said that the Vatican had far too much influence on the institutions of the European Union and it was time for that to be challenged.

“We have the support of feminist, gay and secular groups from all around Europe and large numbers of individuals who are following us on social network sites. We hope that this will send a message to the governments of Europe and Great Britain that alarm is growing at the undue influence of religion on political decision-making. We want a secular Europe where there is room for everyone, whether they have a religious belief or not, where policy is directed only by elected politicians, not by priests who are answerable to no-one.”

The campaign has launched a series of videos on its Youtube channel from prominent supporters including Philip Pullman, Richard Dawkins, Father Bernard Lynch, comedian Robin Ince and many others.

Marco Tranchino said: “This is not an anti-religious campaign, it is a campaign that should be shared by all people who believe in democratic decision-making and the separation of religion and politics.”