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A rock band in Pretoria, South Africa, is rocking the pious with a concert calling for “freedom from religion” (the National Secular Society reports). The 777 Rock Against Religion show, featuring seven of South Africa’s “most outspoken rock and metal” acts is organised by local trio Architecture Of Aggression. It has already angered some Christians who have made their voices heard on the band’s website. Brothers Anton and Van Alberts and William Bishop say the concert would be a “a peaceful protest against the injustices caused in the name of religion against people of different faiths or the non-religious. Anton said: “We want to bring to people’s attention all the atrocities committed in the name of religion.”

The band’s 777 statement reads: “religion served a purpose to our distant ancestors in many different, subtle and even useful manners. It helped explain ‘mysteries’ such us the seasonal cycles, creation and where storms come from. It also stimulated the imaginations of early humans with stories of great gods and miracles. It also served as a useful tool in early civilisations and among nomad tribes, where circumcision could prevent disease in the male population, where eating the wrong animals could lead to infection by parasites and worse. But we have no more need for these controls,” it read.

Humanity now had intelligent ideas and understanding of how the universe functioned and possibly how it came into being as well, the statement said. “There is no need for religious dogmatism in our modern, educated, reasoning society any more. “It is not only redundant but extremely limiting to us as a species. There will always be a place for it, as there will always be a place for the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny,” the statement continued.

Bishop said they wanted to break the silence on a subject still considered taboo in South Africa. “You can’t talk about it. We want to get people to speak about it, to provoke people to speak freely and say that it’s okay not to be religious.”

Van said: “We want people to speak their mind without running the risk of losing their job or being ostracised by their families.”

The three said that some mainstream bands pulled out of the show for fear of losing their fan base or what their parents would think of them. “We don’t want people to believe what we believe,” said Anton. “We want to challenge the religious to read the texts of other religions and not to hate or judge other people because they don’t know or understand them.”

The band said: “If we see someone wearing a ‘I love Jesus’ shirt we leave them alone, that’s their thing. The religious need to be educated. If you speak out against religion you are immediately seen as demonic. There is no in-between for them. You are not allowed to have a different point of view,” said Anton.

Van said that the conservatives were becoming more conservative and that there was a new crusade mentality, as well as increased fundamentalism. “The religious do not take what they’re told and think about it; they take it literally,” said Anton, referring to Amal Nassif, 37, who severely damaged her eyes after staring into the sun for a full minute. Benoni “visionary”, teenager Francesca Zackey, told her that the sun would begin spinning at dusk and allow believers to see the Virgin Mary appear in it. “For humanity to prosper we need to move forward and tone down religion,” said Anton.

The band planned to hold the concert annually and in the future invite poets and other artists. “We’d like to get a speaker like (famous atheist and author) Richard Dawkins and get the idea out there,” said Anton.

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