Thursday, 17 September 2009

Pagan Rules: No God in Camden Please we are Atheists

The Daily Mail today reported news that Camden Borough Council has banned posters advertising a talk at the local Catholic Church on ecology from a Christian perspective.

The activists were told their posters advertising talks about climate change could not be shown in public because they mentioned Christianity and God.

Officials declared that the flyers for a talk on 'climate change is a Christian issue' and and another by a spokesman for the Christian Ecology Link were in conflict with town hall policy against the promotion of religious ideas.

The ban in Camden in North London bemused campaigners from the Roman Catholic Our Lady Help of Christians parish church - not least because they were told they could display posters advertising green rallies so long as they did not refer to God.

There was also confusion among the greens that while borough officials insist they cannot lend a hand to a Christian group, it provides for inquirers details of no fewer than 13 mosques, Muslim study groups, and Islamic social groups.

It is currently advertising for a £32,714-a-year youth worker to engage with 'especially Muslim teenagers' and the borough's website publishes the news that 'Camden council raises awareness of Islam', complete with assurances from a former leader that 'we work hard to spread a true picture of Islam and the Muslim faith.'

The rejection of flyers by local Christian group at libraries and community centres in Camden follows a growing number of incidents of official disapproval of Christians and Christianity.

They range from the refusal by some local authorities to allow any recognition of Christmas through attempts by police forces to silence activists and authors who oppose the gay rights lobby, to disciplinary action by schools and hospitals against teachers who make their Christianity public or nurses who offer to pray with patients.

Jo Siedlecka is organising the climate change meetings for the Our Lady parish. They are part of a national push by church leaders who want to publicise their fears over the greenhouse effect which involves Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and Anglican Bishop of London Dr Richard Chartres as well as Roman Catholic clergy.

'I went to the local library with the posters,' Miss Siedlecka said. 'This time last year we had a green fair and lots of the councillors came, along with our local MP Frank Dobson.

'We had a good deal of support from Camden council who had stalls promoting recycling and compost and so on. I don't understand why they they won't allow us to put up our posters this year.'

Miss Siedlecka said she asked her local library to use its distribution service to put up flyers throughout the borough giving notice of the talks.

'A lady in a yashmak, a Muslim lady, told me that they could not advocate religions and that they could not promote religious ideas.

'Then I spoke to officials at the town hall who told me again that they could not promote a religion. They said they would be very happy if it was green, but it could not be Christian.'

She added: 'This is bizarre. This is annoying.'

Christian pressure groups called for an immediate rethink from borough leaders.

Mike Judge of the Christian Institute said: 'This is another case of Christians being told to go to the back of the class.

'It is prejudice against Christianily. Christians run huge numbers of community projects and they pay council taxes.

'They are not promoting their religion at the expense of anyone else and they are entitled to put their posters up. It is time Camden got a grip.'

The London borough, where the Liberal Democrats are the biggest party and provide the council with its leader Ken Moffitt, told a Roman Catholic news agency: 'We are happy to put up posters supporting green issues but council policy does not allow the promotion of religion.'

More on this story here