A fantastic day! Read the official campaign’s page for links to speeches etc.
The sun shone, the peace was kept and we all had a good sing & shout. Getting people to sing along to ‘Every Sperm is Sacred’ whilst we played our kazoos and wotnot was, so to speak, divine.
What an amazing bunch of people – seriously, I don’t gush about the wonderful nature of human beings very often but having been surrounded by ~12,000 (according to the Met) lovely individuals, today I feel I have to.
Atheists, humanists, catholics, muslims, hindus, agnostics – just about all faiths and none, I reckon (mostly none, of course, but plenty of decent ‘believers’ also).
The only thing that shocked me was some of the pro-pope lot shortly after the march started. At first we couldn’t really hear what they were saying, it was just to the tune of various football chants. But then it became clear.
There the dead go! *clapclap clap clap clap* There the dead go!!
I really couldn’t believe that children and adults alike were standing there shouting that at us. It was truly horrible, many of us looked at each other with disbelief, but we didn’t have much to return except the peace-Vs and a bit of “use condoms!”.
That bit of unpleasantness aside, we had some chants – a few were amusing
Get your rosaries off my ovaries!
Hands off my eggs, Benedict!
And some more standard, to-the-point
Gay/trans/women’s/children’s rights are human rights!
No state visit!
We don’t want your homophobia, nope to the pope!
Faith schools indoctrinate!
See some (minimal) BBC coverage here – can’t believe I missed Ian McKellen!!
The speakers were excellent, when we finally arrived at Downing Street. All the unedited audio is here on PodDelusion.
BHA chief exec Andrew Copson was surprised and very pleased with the turnout (rightly so!).
Some very moving speeches from survivors of childhood abuse at the hands of the clergy (Sue Cox for example – see/hear us ‘singing’ at the beginning too!). They expressed their thanks for everyone showing up and making them realise how many people do care about them, having been told for so many years that they should keep quiet, then that they were lying.
Peter Tatchell did his thing and spelled out why we were all there.
Richard Dawkins got big cheers from the crowd and was actually rather amusing! Link to best Youtube vid so far.
Hear Johann Hari’s speech here.
Ben Goldacre’s usual sobering AIDS-kills-2 million-every-year stat had all the blown-up condoms bobbing around above the crowd. Listen to a bit o’ Ben here.
Also on the stage was Geoffrey Robertson, author of The Case of the Pope – an exposé of all the monstrous activity he’s uncovered in the Catholic church.
One of the most horrific things was to hear of the many women in Brazil and other countries turned straight to the authorities when they arrive at hospitals seriously injured after enduring a backstreet abortion out of desperation. Instantly criminalised due to draconian laws based on religious beliefs, stripping them of their rights; reproductive rights and basic human rights.
Father Bernard Lynch told of his anguish, witnissing fellow gay Catholics losing hope and dying from AIDS following Benedict’s vile words and policies.
After it all finished, the crowds dispersed quickly and quietly, the roadsweepers did a great job clearing up (but most people I saw were carefully keeping their litter to themselves or finding a bin – not easy in London!) after us and we went to sit in a pub.
It was fantastic to meet some Facebook friends in person, to sing with the BHA choir (thanks to everyone who joined in!!), bump into old friends and make new ones.
I had a great day and I hope we’ve made a bit of a difference somehow.
Here are the PodDelusion snippets from James & Liz:
Speakin To John, Who’s Going To See The Pope http://ipad.io/OUT
Another Interview http://ipad.io/OV1
Signs And Banners http://ipad.io/OV9
Shame On The Pope! http://ipad.io/OVO
Aftermath (recorded Saturday) http://ipad.io/OaE
My new favourite video here.
Also search ‘pope’ on John’s youtube channel for a few excellent videos http://www.youtube.com/user/johnjrp01
Honestly we’re all quite pissed off about this, I think. The estimates for attending are consistently under-reported, many of the interviews and footage taken seem not to have materialised… it’s all a bit fishy, but also unsurprising I suppose.
New York Times article isn’t too bad. The BBC coverage has been fairly predictably rubbish so far.
Buzzfeed’s funniest signs!
The BHA has also set up a Flickr pool for the event!