Elton John:  I Would Ban Religion Completely

Orginally published on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 at 5:00 AM
by Todd Rhoades

Sir Elton John wants religion banned completely -- because he believes it promotes hatred of gays. Speaking to the Observer Music Monthly Magazine the singer said religion lacked compassion and turned people into "hateful lemmings".

He said there was a lack of religious leadership, particularly in world politics, and complained that people do not take to the streets to protest any more.

Sir Elton said: “I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people. Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays.

“But there are so many people I know who are gay and love their religion. From my point of view I would ban religion completely.

“Organised religion doesn’t seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it’s not really compassionate.”

He added: “The world is near escalating to World War Three and where are the leaders of each religion? Why aren’t they having a conclave? Why aren’t they coming together?

“I said this after 9/11 and people thought I was nuts. Instead of more violence why isn’t there a meeting of religious leaders?

“It’s like the peace movement in the Sixties. Musicians got through to people by getting out there and doing peace concerts but we don’t seem to do them any more.

“If John Lennon were alive today he’d be leading it with a vengeance,” he said.

Sir Elton said people were too busy blogging on the internet to go out onto the streets to stand up for what they believed in.

“They seem to do their protesting online and that’s not good enough. You have to get out there and be seen to be vocal, and you’ve got to do it time and time again.

“There was a big march in London when Britain decided to join the war against Iraq and Tony Blair is on the record as saying ‘the people who march today will have blood on their hands’. That’s returned to bite him on the ass,” he said.

Sir Elton compared his place in British culture with that of the Queen Mother’s.

He said: “People come to me and I’m a bit like the Queen Mother. I never get those problems. I don’t know what it is with me, people treat me very reverently.

Referring to his “wedding” to long-term partner David Furnish, he said: “It was the same when Dave and I had our civil union - I was expecting the odd flour bomb and there wasn’t.

“Dave and I as a couple seem to be the acceptable face of gayness, and that’s great.”

He pledged to continue to campaign for gay rights saying: “I’m going to fight for them whether I do it silently behind the scenes or so vocally that I get locked up.

“I can’t just sit back; it’s not in my nature any more. I’m nearly 60-years-old after all. I can’t sit back and blindly ignore it and I won’t.”

Source:  The Drudge Report

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  There are 37 Comments:

  • Posted by

    I agree with much of what he says about “religion"… Not Christ or his real followers, though…

    However, EJ can hardly be thought of as an “authority” on the subject, now can he… I suppose he’d like us to totally throw out what we believe just so that we can be nicer to him. I’ve a better idea. Let’s be kind, compassionate, caring, et cetera WITHOUT changing what we believe. Some famous historical figure did this really well, oh about twenty centuries ago… the name escapes me…

  • Posted by

    I’m not sure that I completely understand what Elton John is saying.  He says that he would ban religion completely, but then calls for more religious leadership to help end what he terms as World War III.  He says that religion promotes hatred toward gays, but then goes onto imply that his civil union has apparently received acceptance when he says that, “Dave and I as a couple seem to be the acceptable face of gayness, and that’s great.” I haven’t walked in his shoes, and maybe we are only getting sound bytes in this article, but the statements posted above seem to be self-contradictory to me.


  • Posted by

    Elton, respectfully, “Shut up and sing”

  • Posted by Bill A.

    If we need to ban religion because we aren’t leading the charge to peace, like Elton says. We also need to ban music. Because according to Elton we used to do peace concerts but now we don’t.  So it would seem that musicians are guilty of the same “sin” as religion.

    While Elton does bring some interesting points, and some things we really ought to consider. He’s not the person that I listen to for significant advice in my life.

  • Posted by Leonard

    The church in our age has long been behind in it’s response to culture and then when it responds, only the negative responses receive attention.  Our culture has long been heading toward the nobility of being gay.  What I mean is that it was only 30 or so years ago that homosexuality was illegal.  Then it became a private matter, then it became a public matter, then it became a minority issue on the level of race, now it has become accepted culturally in so many ways, soon it will become (already is in some places) an equally accepted relationship along with traditional marriage. Eventually it will head towards the expertise of gay people when it comes to religion, ethics, civil rights and law. 

    What has the church done?  One media covered group of people hold up “God hates fags” signs, and while they are a relatively small group of people, the media has given them our voice because we as a church are silent.  The American church has never figured how to do ministry in this segment of society.  It has never discovered a clear voice that is much beyond condemning.  Consequently our silence has cost us our authority on the matter. 

    Is Elton John right?  No he speaks the foolishness of men.  His wisdom is crippled not by being gay but by being human.  But because of no clear voice of compassion and reason (sort of the Grace and Truth thing) coming from the church, he gets the headline.

  • Posted by

    Can’t put my finger on exactly why, but EJ’s comments made me remember this…

    Ultimately, all pursuits apart from God lead to alienation and loneliness that only the touch of Christ can resolve. – Ravi Zacharias

  • Posted by kent


    There are a multitude of churches that have very effective ministires to the gay community in terms of care for AIDS patients. They do not approve the lifestlye but have made committed efforts to care for those who are sick and dying. They just do not need or seek the spot light. Being on the news is not always a good or desired thing.

  • Posted by Daniel

    Elton’s statement is obviously hyperbolic.  Banning diversity (religious or otherwise) would clearly work against Elton’s own situation in life.  All that he is saying (as I understand it) is that religion has made life harder for him and his gay friends.  Now, think what you will about how the Church should best respond to homosexual activism, but I think we can all agree that Christianity shouldn’t make anyone hate anyone else.  Clearly this is what upsets our friend Elton John.
    Rather than nitpick at the sound-bytes we’ve heard, I think it would be best to see EJ’s statements as an invitation to correction.  We are called to correct his (and everyone else’s) perception of Christianity as a religion of hatred.  Muslims seem to be having the same problem these days.  The only way this can be addressed is by those of us who (rightly) believe in peace (because we are disciples of the Prince of Peace) to live in ways consistent with the teachings of our Lord.
    My two cents.

  • Posted by Phil DiLernia

    I don’t think we’re hitting the “real” problem that EJ has.  No amount of “love” is going to win him or the majority of gays over if they feel that their choices are morally and inherently “good.” The ONLY thing that I see satisfying the crowd that promotes homosexuality is for religion to acquiece and say that homosexuality is morally equivlant to male/female relationships.  They don’t want love - they want to be “right.”

    Therefore since EJ knows that the religions of the world won’t do that (for the most part at least although I know some denominations do) his only solution is the abolishment of all religion.  Even if all religion were abolished he would still wind up being dissatisfied since his heart would not feel accepted.

    Which brings us right around to I_AM_NOT’s quote which I’ll repeat -

    Ultimately, all pursuits apart from God lead to alienation and loneliness that only the touch of Christ can resolve. – Ravi Zacharias


  • Posted by Leonard

    Well said Phil.  But as the church we still need to find our voice on this issue.  It is not the God hates fags voice that has been given to us.  We need to clearly articulate a standard of truth and grace.  Not a standard of grace, that alters truth as some in the emergent community are doing now and as some in mainline denoms. have done.  The church has always struggled to blend grace and truth be it addiction, divorce, homosexuality or other issues we face as prevalent in the culture we seek to do ministry within.

  • Posted by Daniel

    Nonsense (my opinion, of course).  “They don’t want love - they want to be ‘right.’” assumes that their biggest frustration is lack of acceptance.  Perhaps for some, this is true.  But for the most part I think what many gays are upset by is sheer hatred (sometimes masked behind religious language).  If Western society could get to the point of ‘live and let live’, where conservative Christians could disagree with gays (but not hate them) and vice-versa, then I think most gays would be quite happy.  And since this is a justice issue, I can understand why!! 
    No one, whatever their sin, deserves to be hated or treated in demeaning ways.  Being called names, spat on, and looked at suspiciously day after day after day has to be very tiring…
    As Christians, we are called to side with the downtrodden, even if the downtrodden happen to be caught in a specific sin.  So let’s be very careful to examine ourselves and see to it that we never needlessly offend another, Christian or not, gay or not.

  • Posted by

    This article reads oddly.  It seems like a disjointed compilation of comments by EJ that, when formed into the article, appear to be somewhat contradictory (as Nora said).  Does he wish that all religion would just go away . . . or that it become even more organized and begin to campaign for (and against) the things he thinks it should (like world peace)?

    Still, I share some of his opinions. For example:

    • “Organized religion doesn’t seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it’s not really compassionate.” – sometimes that is quite true.

    Other of his comments are completely understandable:

    • “I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people. Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays.
    • “Dave and I as a couple seem to be the acceptable face of gayness, and that’s great.”
    • He pledged to continue to campaign for gay rights saying: “I’m going to fight for them whether I do it silently behind the scenes or so vocally that I get locked up.

    Leonard said: [. . . it was only 30 or so years ago that homosexuality was illegal.] No, gay legal unions or marriage was illegal (and is not being considered) . . . but homosexuality was never illegal any more than heterosexual sex outside of marriage was illegal . . . just generally looked upon by society as immoral, which is what I think you meant.

    Leonard also says: [His wisdom is crippled not by being gay but by being human.] AMEN!  Which is why we cannot be surprised by or upset about his comments, and why I disagree with Phil’s comment:

    [No amount of “love” is going to win him or the majority of gays over if they feel that their choices are morally and inherently “good.”]

    I believe you have this in the wrong order Phil, and that’s what creates the problem.  People don’t change their perceptions and worldviews in order to receive love.  Rather, they receive love, and then eventually . . . often very slowly, the love begins to alter their perceptions and worldviews. 

    Phil goes on to say: [They don’t want love - they want to be “right.”] Of course they do, but that’s because they don’t yet understand love.  Through their fallen lenses, what religion does and says just doesn’t look very loving.  The woman caught in adultery didn’t want love, she just wanted to be saved from the stoning.  Zachaeus didn’t want love, he just wanted to get a glimpse of the rock star walking down the street.  The man blind since birth didn’t want love, he just wanted someone to carry him to the pool.

    Which is the kind of thing I think Kent is suggesting about churches that care for people sick and dying from Aids, earning them the right to say “go and sin no more.” I bet if religion were to become known more for what it DOES about love than what it SAYS about love, EJ’s perceptions might be quite different.


  • Posted by

    Well said Leonard and Phil. The only relationships that I truly feel love and acceptance is when I know I can be wrong and still be accepted and cherished. We have the ability to be wrong. As long as each side is “right” in their own mind we will continue towards isolation and loneliness. In sound bites in the media only separates the groups further. It is a grass roots effort to care for a person even though you may not agree with their lifestyle choices that will change the world. When they meet a follower of Christ who showed them love and authenticity. God is both love and just. We enjoy expressing the just part and avoid the love portion, dismissing it as soft and misguided. And we can’t become pithy and miss the just element.

  • Posted by Leonard

    I might state it this way; homosexuality was decriminalized in many states and countries when sodomy laws were repealed.  1962 was the first in the US, the state of Illinois.  Still many countries of the world have anti homosexuality laws on their books.

  • Posted by

    So a popular singer spouts off a few words about “religion” and “gays” and we are to what?  Well, first EJ is generalizing.  He speaks of religion in general and not specifics.  There are relgions [non-Christian and some Christian groups] that favor and promote the gay lifestyle.  He should be a little more careful about his over-generalizations.  Even if he meant Christianity, it is a broad grouping that includes very liberal thinking folks to some extremists. 

    There are groups of Christians who rightly divide the Word and have determined that the gay lifestyle is not biblical [and thus sinful] but will reach out in love to the gay community with the gospel message which can change lives.  And that will not be considered acceptable by many gay activitists.  For those who demand others embrace their gay lifestyle as the same as heterosexual marriages, there will always be a perception that the Christian religion promotes hate. 

    But it is interesting to note that EJ has not been the recipient of any religious hate.  So who is really fomenting the hate?  Religion or EJ?

  • Posted by Phil DiLernia

    This will be my ignorance shining through ... but I’ve been a believer for 14 years and now pastor a decent sized church (330.) In all of my years of evangelizing, reaching out to others, studying the word in community, etc etc. I can’t recall EVER hearing any hatred towards gay people.  That’s the truth.

    Once, when I was going to a politcal fundraiser for Rick Santorum during the last RNC I was yelled at, cursed at, spat upon, by an angry mob of gay protestors.  I had no idea what was going on but when I attempted to speak with the crowd they wouldn’t even dialog with me!  Thankfully one man yelled to everyone “can’t you see this man is trying to speak with us?” This to be said that there is anger from the homosexuality community that isn’t based on any hatred from those in the church but their perceptions of such hatred because it’s popular to think that.

    TELL THE TRUTH HERE ... Everyone please identify when you have experienced hatred from the church towards homosexuals.  I just haven’t seen it ... but I have seen people trying to reach out through a multitude of ministries for years ... but that doesn’t seem to hit the discussion boards.

    If you have teenagers you’ll understand this phenomonen ... “You guys NEVER listen to me” or “My parents HATE ME” or “You’re out of touch” or “You don’t understand ...” Are these statements true for the most part or are they just ramblings of young men/women who due to their own age, immaturity, and rebelliousness, just don’t see the truth of their parents concern and love?

    I agree with everyone ... demonstrate love.  But please be honest here ... if you’ve spent ANY TIME AT ALL reaching out to others in love then you’ve experienced those who refuse that reaching out as long as you still believe that their choices aren’t profitable.

  • Posted by

    Being in theater has put me in a place of choosing to love these people or not.  One lesbian woman I run into everywhere.  Honestly, if she’s shopping I am and we see each other.

    I have to say that I think that is of the Lord.

    I agree with most of what was said by all the rest of you.  But to put it in practical terms, every gay person I have met and gotten to know, is walking wounded.  They have deep deep scars that they haven’t been able to overcome.

    That said, I believe that real love, that is love that only comes from God is the answer.
    This isn’t easy, share with them, they accept and get baptized kind of ministry.  It’s long term, relationship and trust building and earning the right to be heard type ministry.

    How many of us are truly willing to do that?  It’s easier to quote Romans 1 and move on.

    And it’s a lot more difficult to invite them for a cup of coffee and be their friend.

    Just a side note:  I’m not saying to accept their beliefs or to approve of their lifestyles.

  • Posted by Phil DiLernia

    Oh and Wendi please let me apologize if I was demeaning love or coming across as if we shouldn’t love because others aren’t seeking it.  My fault if that’s the way it came across because I certainly didn’t mean that.

    However, what I was trying to say was that there are some who think gay people will become straight if only the church would love them more.  Love is typically defined or viewed as spending time with, doing things for, providing for others needs, etc etc, and I believe all of those are done for others when they are loved.  However, the other part of love - telling others the truth (gently sometimes not so gently others - like Jesus Christ) is where our issues with the homosexual community lies.  No matter how gentle and “loving” you are with the truth Elton John (for example) is not going to hear you unless the Holy Spirit softens his heart and EJ begins experiencing a poverty of spirit leading him to hunger and thirst for righteousness.

    As with any rebellion - pride is the root cause of hearts which are hardened.

    Yes we should love.  LOVE HARD!!  But have you EVER heard these words “I REJECT LOVE!” On the contrary - prideful rebellious people will USUALLY accuse the lover of not showing love.  If you’ve ever loved and been rejected then you’ll know this statement to be true.

  • Posted by


    Hmmm.  I guess I wasn’t really paying attention in American history class.  Really??  Homosexual sex used to actually be against the law in the US, along with sodomy?  I have understood the changes in the legal climate to be challenges to the constitutionality of various practices and laws which prohibit freedoms (or perceived freedoms).  Similar to the constitutional challenge to voting prohibition for blacks.

    Would you actually support laws that would cause people having same sex relations to be subject to arrest, homosexuality actually being illegal? It sounded as if you feel this was a preferable situation.


    No need to apologize.  I think we probably agree that only heart transformation which comes from experiencing Christ’s love will change the worldview of any sinner (including EJ, and you and me).  I just wanted to submit that Jesus seemed to be prone to simple loving acts before ever commenting on worldview (like caring for people who are dying from Aids . . . in our neighborhood or across the globe.)

    Indeed there are Christian folks who have behaved hatefully toward gays.  On MMI alone (just in the year I’ve been reading), Todd has posted; a story of a Christian in metropolitan international airport wearing a tee shirt that read “God hates: fags, abortionists, (and someone else I can’t remember, a story about Pastor Phelps who pickets the funerals of American soldiers with signs about God punishing America because of our support for fags, and just about a month ago a sincere poster (young pastor) engaged in a lengthy dialogue with several of us about his need to “hurl” if he was ever asked to counsel someone struggling with homosexuality.

    In spite of these, I do think few Christians really behave hatefully toward gays.  So your comparison to teenage perceptions works well.  We understand a teen might perceive that his/her parents hate them.  We understand that just goes with the territory.  But generally, the ones who show the love which is perceived as hate are the parents who are in relationship with the teen, not the neighbors or the pastor or the “Christian community.”


  • Posted by

    “Love the sinner, hate the sin?”
    When we accept the premise that homosexuality is a sin, the quote above becomes a problem.  Homosexuals do not allow themselves to be separated fom their homosexualtiy, so how are we to do it?  I guess we have to assume that the Bible is correct in stating that we are all sinners.  We all have something in our lives that separates us from the perfection of God.  We have to be the ones who separate their “sin” from who they are, even if they are not willing to.  After all, we are able to do it for ourselves, and for those people who sit behind us in church every Sunday, aren’t we? 

    Until all have heard,

  • Posted by Leonard

    I am not sure what I said that made it sound as if I preferred it that way.  I actually have not given much thought to the subject.  The only reason I knew this was my mother used to work for the state in the Bureau of Criminal Statistics and she told me long ago.  I did do some research before I posted so as to not be too inaccurate.  I do know that as recently as a few years ago Texas had an anti sodomy law.  I think that my point was that homosexuality is becoming more and more permissible in our culture and the church is being portrayed as to be only dealing with it in a condemning way.  I know there are great ministries available to bring compassion and love, but those do not get respect of the media or gay community.

  • Posted by Phil DiLernia

    Wendi ... good dialog.

    You said:  “I just wanted to submit that Jesus seemed to be prone to simple loving acts before ever commenting on worldview ..”

    That may be true on occassion but on occasion it’s not true.

    For your review I submit the following:

    1- (John 4) The Jesus that we point to all the time when expressing His gentleness is His interaction with the woman at the well.  In this story Jesus went to worldview first without doing anything for her.

    2- (John 2) Jesus clears the Temple without doing or saying anything to them that could be perceived (by our common use of the term) as a loving act.

    3- (John 3) Jesus interacts for the first time with Nicodemus.  Nicodemus acknowledges that Jesus’ teachings must be from God.  Jesus, not totally satisfied with Nicodemus’ response tells him that unless Nicodemus was born again that he will not see the Kingdom of God.  No loving acts performed first.

    4- (John 5) Jesus sees an invalid by the pool in Bethseda.  Jesus learns that this man has been there for 38 years and just asks the question; “Do you want to get well?” Worldview first in this case.  Jesus heals the man then tells him later a remarkable worldview; “Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you!”

    Wendi ... just so you know I witness to people of all races, religioins, sexual preferences, et. al.  I do so in a manner which, according to them is non-judgmental and they appreciate it.  I’m NOT saying that we should just go to worldview each and every time without demonstrating a care and compassion (as we know these words to mean) first.

    I am saying that there are times to go to worldview and times not to.  Jesus doesn’t seem to be constrained, as we are in the U.S., with such shackles. 

    If the Spirit of God is drawing someone they want (nay ... need!) to hear the truth ASAP - not in judgement (that is God’s perogative) but the truth nonetheless.

    I hope and pray that your examples of Christians demonstrating hate towards others is the far and few between exception.  I have never seen that in my 14 years of faith.  I’ve witnessed ignorance certainly, and even judgmentalness.  But the truth is - from my experiences only - that the most ignorant and judgmental of those in the church are the least likely to be out there witnessing their faith!  As I said - that is my experience and I don’t claim to speak for everyone elses.

    God’s peace!!

  • Posted by

    Does God love sinfulness; be it a sinner or sin or just plain sinful?

    In Christ is NO sin and in Him is Perfect Love.  Outside of Christ there is wrath - against Sin.

    Loving ALL people equally is NOT in Christ - that friends is perfectly outside of Christ.

    Of course Christ loves sinful beings BUT that does not conclude that He loves or is required to love all of them - only those whom the Father gives Him.

    Who are they?  I would suspect they are those who don’t embrace sinfulness but rather run from it and repent.  Anyone willing to stay in sin (WILLINGLY) and claim Christ is not TRULY repentant.  It’s like a child saying he didn’t take the cookies out of the cookie jar while chocolate covers is lips, face and hands.

    Just because you say you love God doesn’t mean you really do - a person might fool others, they might even fool themselves but make no mistake, God will be no creature’s fool.

    Some will say I/we judge a man’s heart for saying such things but rather we judge the action and call for repentance - where there is no repentance, there is rebellion and sinfulness.

    We are called to stand against this type of sinfulness and not only against those who practice such things but those who support them (Romans 1).  The world has convinced the church not to judge - WHY?  The heart we should agree BUT the action is something else.

  • Posted by

    Leonard - - - when you commented about the progression of society’s view and started with “used to be illegal . . .” I read (incorrectly I think) between the lines that you felt things had gone from good to bad to worse.  I certainly agree with your last post.  The media and gay community (like EJ) will never see ministry to gays leaving their lifestyle as a good thing.  And although it might not get much press, caring (unconditionally) for people dying from Aids will at least be perceived by those receiving the care as a good thing.  Then again . . . RW is (IMO) gaining some credibility these days for the Christian community with the media and gay community for his attention to the global Aids crisis . . . but that’s another thread.

    Phil - - - good point, that Jesus didn’t always start His encounters the same way.  I do think though, that His pattern was to show the most anger and condemnation toward the religious leaders, and the most compassion toward the worst of sinners who had the most mixed up and pagan of world views.  Don’t you think?


  • Posted by Phil DiLernia

    Wendi -

    Of the 4 examples given 3 of them were NOT religous leaders or anything close to it. 
    1- An invalid of 38 years
    2- An average promicuous woman
    3- Businessmen

    Only Nicodemus was what we would term a religous leader.

    And to give the study of Jesus even more credibility look at some of His reactions AFTER He spoke kindly or acted to kindly to those who refused His kindness, grace, and mercy!  If anyone on this board acted in that manner they would be ridiculed as judgmental and intolerant and a BAD witness for the cause of Christ (at least from what I can tell from the tenor of the blogs I’ve read so far.)

    In my humble opinion the church has made Jesus’ personality and/or ministry style into someone and/or something that it is not. 

    In fact I would ask someone (you or anyone else) to show me the “many” examples given of Jesus continually acting kindly to those (showing acts of kindness) that continually reject His truths. 

    Isn’t it Jesus who told His disciples to “shake their robes and clean off their sandals.” I don’t believe the case could be made that His disciples were being sent into these towns to speak to religous leaders only.

    Anyway ... I find Jesus fascinating and our perceptions of His person and ministry even more so.

    My experience has been that when people sense you care and have compassion they will allow you input to enter the conversation of life - even if they know you disagree.  However, there are those that once they find out you’re a Christian assume you are a hating & prejudicial person.  My sense is that EJ is that type.  Why?  Because he is asking for the abolition of organized religion even after admitting that he has not been under attack from these organizations.

    His gripe is that there are millions - nay hundreds of millions - of people around the world who feel that his sexual activity choices are sinful and not looked upon favorably by God.  BTW, gossips don’t like to hear that, adulterors don’t like to hear that, etc. etc.

    We are all sinners saved by grace.  My understanding of scripture is that David (who was a pretty “big” sinner in worldly sense) was called a “man after God’s own heart (even though a murderer and adulterer) because when confronted by Nathan with his sin he repented and didn’t say that Nathan was wrong (the equivilant of saying that God is wrong.)

    BTW, David is from the tribe of Judah and his ancestor Judah also turned his life around the moment he was confronted with his same inconsistent judgement of Tamar.  He confessed & repented and from that moment on Judah’s life was more effective for impacting his people for God.

    I preach grace EVERY SINGLE WEEK and not Law.  However, on a Christian board like this I get a little skimish when one can by critical of EJ and then sort of be made to feel as if they are not acting like Christ.  I don’t worry about WWJD.  Who knows what He WOULD DO?  I look at WDJD.  I know what He DID DO!  From His many examples I believe Jesus would tell EJ the truth without holding back. 

    Again, JMO.

    You are great to dialog with.

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