British secularists and atheists were quick to condemn the possibility that a 30-foot replica of Brazil’s iconic and giant status of Christ the Redeemer will be erected on Primrose Hill in north London this year. The statue would ostensibly mark the transfer of the host city status from London, where the 2012 Summer Olympics will be held, to Rio de Janeiro. According to the New Journal, a London-based consultancy working with the Brazilian Tourist Board, the local planning council has not yet approved the plan. The consultancy recently sent an email to select Primrose Hill residents informing them of the plan, but requesting secrecy in order to diminish controversy locally and globally. In this, the consultancy was apparently amiss.
In a statement, Britain’s National Secularist Society denounced the statue.”The National Secular Society has condemned a secret plan for a twenty foot high replica of the Rio de Janeiro statue of Christ the Redeemer near the summit of the iconic London landmark Primrose Hill.” The statue, claimed NSS, is “already dividing local residents.” NSS President Terry Sanderson intoned, "The Olympic Games is supposed to unite people of all creeds and cultures through sport. Introducing something as blatantly sectarian as this would completely go against the spirit of the games and be a kind of triumphalist statement about Christianity. It is a very bad idea and must be kicked into touch immediately."
Friends of Primrose Hill chairman Malcolm Kafetz told the Camden New Journal, "I do not see why it should go there. It does not represent anything of England or Primrose Hill. Primrose Hill is a place for people to go and enjoy the view.” However, The Primrose Hill Community Association’s Maureen Betts said she had been approached and that they were planning to hold a meeting to discuss the plans with the designers before they go to Camden Council’s planning committee. She said, according to the Camden New Journal, “I personally would not mind if it was temporary and it depends on what it looks like.” Primrose Hill Conservation Area Committee’s Pam White added, “I have no objections if it is temporary and we are looking forward to seeing the designs. The Royal Parks have already desecrated the top of Primrose Hill against our advice.”
The statue of the Redeemer would stand about 20 feet tall, while the original in Rio de Janeiro is about 100 feet tall and visible for miles. The Brazilian tourist board would fund the statue in London.