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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Religious leaders on their marks for Olympics

In the hope that they can push religion into the forefront of the Olympic Games in London, leaders of nine major religions have visited the site where the games will take place.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was among those who toured the Olympic Park and velodrome on Tuesday blathering on about “diversity” as a reason to ensure that everyone who comes to the Olympic Games has to take on a religious identity.

Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish, Baha’is, Jain, Buddhist and Zoroastrian will be represented at a “multi-faith centre” catering to athletes in the Olympic Village during the games.

London organizing committee chief executive Paul Deighton says “the diversity of London and the rest of the U.K. was one of the reasons why London was chosen to host the games.”

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said: “Religion will be personally important to some of the athletes and competitors at these games, but it would be tragic and divisive if everyone has to start identifying themselves with a religious label. The idea of an international event of this kind is that the competition rests on ability, not belief-system, and that competitors represent their nation, not their religion. By all means provide the facilities for worship for those who want it, but please leave the religion inside the so-called multi-faith centre.”

Mr Sanderson said that religion was already intruding too much into international sport with some footballers ostentatiously crossing themselves after scoring goals and Muslim women athletes being forced into ridiculous costumes to satisfy the prurient demands of their religious leaders at home.

Published Fri, 11 Nov 2011