When we arrived at Taylor Square, there was already a gathering of protesters gathered around.
We distributed some fliers with the even's timetable on it throughout the crowd and telegraph poles, then got the Sydney Atheists Flag out and found a prominent place to display it from.
There was a bit of a rally, with the Raelians destroying a bit of the credibility of the protest by arriving with a pink alien called 'Pope Alice' with a Vagina for a pope-hat and another one on her chest with an inflatable green alien inside (do they think that's going to gain them any credibility at all? seems to me like they're taking the piss). Then we started the march, with the world truth day's pope-mobile leading the way (followed by pope Alice, but we'll ignore that for now..) There was chanting and yelling, mostly about the Catholic Church's stance on safe sex, homosexuality and particularly condom use.
We walked for 1km or so through the streets and ended up at Moore park, where we were able to stand alongside the pilgrim parade, with a police barricade to protect the pilgrims from rational thought.
We were there for about an hour and there were seas of pilgrims walking past. The Sydney Atheists had their sign up at the first spot in the protest, so the pilgrims saw us first and got our message of positive atheism before the chanting and yelling of the main body of the protest. We can only hope that some people may have been interested by our message and go find out about atheism.
We were saying things like 'There is no God, sorry", "Fairytales are for children", "Jesus is a myth", "I like zombie stories too". The interaction from the crowd was generally acceptable, they were singing religious songs and chanting "Benadictus!" (to which we responded "nice as eggs!"). There were some with strollers, to which we said "your baby is an atheist, you know" and there were some with pets "your dog is an atheist". Some took umbrige to our protest and yelled abuse at us, stuck their fingers up, but nothing too bad. Except there was one guy who decided to go AWOL at us . When he saw the protestors, he began screaming all kinds of obscenities. We said "that's the christian spirit, why not turn the other cheek" and he broke through the barricade of police (obviously a semi-permiable membrane) and hit the guy next to me in the throat.
He was all right afterwards, just a bit shocked, but it has been all over the media, which is good. The only altercation throughout the whole day was a catholic nutjob punching a protestor, which does a lot for our side. The protestor was filmed and photographed for the news and was one of the big stories of the nightly news.
Not long after that, we all marched back to Taylor Square (and straight into a pub) where everyone had a good time chatting and swapping stories about the day and their opinions on the whole event of world youth day.
It was a fun day, we got the message out there and there was plenty of news coverage and there was only one personwho took things too far, which was a Catholic!
I just hope they have as much fun when the Madrid atheists get their chance to protest in 3 more years time.
Here's a video of the Sydney Atheists' involvement in the protests
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