SCOTS football fans who sing the Hokey Cokey could be committing a "faith hate" crime, senior Catholics warned yesterday.
A spokesman for Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland said the song – most often heard at kids parties and family gatherings – has "disturbing origins".
They claim the tune was composed by Puritans during the 18th century in an attempt to mock the actions and language of priests leading Latin mass, and that its derisive overtones have been revived by football fans.
Now politicians have urged police to arrest anyone using the song to "taunt" Catholics under legislation designed to prevent incitement to religious hatred.
Peter Kearney, a spokesman for Cardinal O'Brien, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, said: "This song does have quite disturbing origins. It was devised as an attack on, and a parody of, the Catholic mass.
"If there are moves to restore its more malevolent meaning then consideration should perhaps be given to its wider use."
According to the Church, the song's title derives from "hocus pocus". The phrase is said to be a Puritan satire on the Latin hoc est enim corpus meum, or "this is my body", used by Catholic priests to accompany the transubstantiation during mass.
But football fans and opposition politicians have blasted the claims, describing them as "utter nonsense".
Murdo Fraser, deputy leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, said: "I can't believe Scottish children performing the 'Hokey Cokey' are doing so in pursuit of any sort of anti-Catholic agenda."