Harold Pinter, a sad loss to secularism
NOBEL Prize-winning British playwright Harold Pinter, who died of cancer on Christmas Eve aged 78, was an honorary associate of the National Secular Society, an organisation he supported for many years of his life.
In 1966, on the occasion of the NSS’s centenary, Pinter penned the following message of support:
The existence for 100 years of a freethought organisation such as the National Secular Society is something to celebrate. However, the fact remains that children are still indoctrinated in schools at public expense, the blasphemy laws are still on the Statute Book, and many humane and rational reforms remain opposed. The activities of pressure groups are a constant threat to freedom of discussion in the press and on radio and TV. The work of the NSS remains highly important.
In 2002 the BBC carried a report which said that:
Pinter is known for expressing his strong views, recently adding his voice to a call to BBC Radio 4 to open up its Thought for the Day spot to non-religious groups.
At the time Pinter had revealed that his cancer was in remission.
The BBC added:
His strong political beliefs have never been a secret and he used a literary festival appearance in Edinburgh to speak out against the UK government’s support for US President George Bush’s ‘war on terrorism’, laying particular emphasis on the suggested attack on Iraq.
Referring to his criticism of then Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government, Pinter said:
I can be a bit of a pain in the arse and, since coming out of my cancer, I must say I intend to be even more of a pain in the arse.