By New Worker correspondent
MILITANT atheists took to the streets of London last Saturday for a march and rally in the capital calling for an end to religious privileges and for European institutions to remain secular. Several hundred people took part in the march organised by the Secular Europe Campaign that was originally launched in 2008 to challenge the enormous power and influence of the Vatican within the European Union. A similar protest was held in Rome the same day against the huge three billion euro tax exemption the Vatican enjoys.
But the British campaign is broader and "aims at representing all the issues around secularism and human rights, including opposition to state-funded faith schools, rejection of religious tribunals and support to equal rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender citizens."
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.”
Tranchino says that the Vatican has 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.”