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Catholics shut down 'Black Mass' metal festival

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If you want to start a contemporary religious war, what better place to launch it than through Facebook?

Residents of Sydney, Australia who had been looking forward to a "black metal festival", scheduled for next weekend, must now find other entertainment, as Catholic group, Catholics Taking Action (CTA), successfully mounted a campaign against them via a page on Facebook.

According to their page, "a satanic "Black Mass" celebration is to occur at Newtown RSL – it is simply disgraceful. The advertising which features the insignia of the Church of Satan and an inverted crucifix is encouraging people to come and partake in an "unholy spell to be cast upon the city of Sydney" featuring the "ultimate of soul possessing occult revelations...unbridled blasphemy... [and] a union of all things unholy".

In addition to calling down the wrath of their particular deity, the CTA also provided other god-fearing, righteous Australians with sample protest letters to write, as well as the email addresses of officials of the Returned & Services League (RSL) who had originally been happy to host this event.

Not any more. Promoters, Séance Records wrote on Australian metal forum Brismetal: "Less than two weeks out from the show The RSL board has pulled the plug on Black Mass Festival."

The RSL'S Newtown venue is a popular nightspot that is regularly rented out for alternative music gigs.

brismetal wrote: "They have blatantly cancelled with no prior notice and with no option of negotiation or compromise. They have sadly bowed under pressure from Christians who have lobbied them to cancel the show.

"The Christians have launched the full scale of their campaign at the last minute, I believe in a calculated manner to sabotage us to the fullest extent possible. They have done so via a series of facebook pages organised to have the event cancelled. From their website we can tell these are the same people who lobby against gay & lesbian rights, womens reproductive rights & contraception.”

Explaining that supporters should not take their frustrations out on Christianity in general, Séance, are also asking their supporters to write in protest to members of the RSL board.

Meanwhile, in a not entirely unpredictable turn-up for the books, supporters of black metal have also set up their own Facebook Group, "Against the Christians protesting against "Black Mass" Music Festival", and are now in wholly non-ironic fashion, urging their own supporters to "protest against these self-righteous people with too much time on their hands".

Oh dear. If Facebook had been around some decades earlier, would Ozzy Osborne or Alice Cooper ever have got off the ground?

On the other hand, a medieval Facebook might have made the crusades a whole lot less bloody. ®

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