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updated 11/12/2006 12:09:58 AM ET 2006-11-12T05:09:58

Organized religion fuels anti-gay discrimination and other forms of bias, pop star Elton John said in an interview published Saturday.

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“I think religion has always tried to turn hatred toward gay people,” John said in the Observer newspaper’s Music Monthly Magazine. “Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays.”

“But there are so many people I know who are gay and love their religion,” he said. “From my point of view, I would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn’t seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it’s not really compassionate.”

John also criticized religious leaders for failing to do anything about conflicts around the world.

“Why aren’t they having a conclave? Why aren’t they coming together?”

John said those in his own field have been similarly lax.

“It’s like the peace movement in the ’60s. Musicians got through to people by getting out there and doing peace concerts, but we don’t seem to do them any more,” he said. “If John Lennon were alive today, he’d be leading it with a vengeance.”

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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