Sun 12 Nov 2006

Elton John wants religion banned


LONDON (Reuters) - Elton John has said organised religion should be banned because it promotes homophobia and turns some people into "hateful lemmings".

"I would ban religion completely, even though there are some wonderful things about it," the singer said in an interview with the Observer newspaper on Sunday.

"Religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people. It turns people into hateful lemmings and it is not really compassionate."

The singer, who tied the knot with long-term partner David Furnish in a civil ceremony last year, said he admired the teachings of Jesus Christ, but disliked religious bodies.

"The reality is that organised religion doesn't seem to work," he added.

The 59-year-old singer, who has sold an estimated 200 million records, is no stranger to controversy.

In 2000, he hit out at the "ignorance" of the Roman Catholic church after a priest said homosexuals were engaged in "a lifestyle that can never respond to the deepest longings of the human heart".

Since then he has received blanket media coverage for a series of high-profile outbursts.

In May, he launched an expletive-laden tirade against the press at the Cannes film festival, telling photographers: "You should all be shot."

In 2004, he was filmed shouting at Taiwanese photographers for surprising him as he arrived at Taipei airport, calling them "rude, vile pigs".

He criticised pop star Madonna a week later, accusing her of charging fans outrageous prices to see her lip-synch in concert.

In an interview, he said his "bad temper and irrationality" emerged only when he was tired.

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Last updated: 12-Nov-06 15:30 BST