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Statement in response to vandalism of St Matthew’s billboard

Statement in response to the vandalism of St Matthew’s billboard

by Revd Glynn Cardy and Revd Clay Nelson
19 December 2011

Arthur Skinner and the Catholic Action Group used our billboard, his vandalism of it, and our property this morning to gain publicity for his point of view and to further his supposedly “Catholic” organisation’s agenda. He has also announced that he was willing to be arrested for his illegal act. We believe Mr Skinner could have gained the same attention without the vandalism. While his offer to be arrested is tempting, we declined the invitation (however we wouldn’t decline restitution). We would rather bring attention to the world’s poor, the plight of women in too many countries, hungry children, the destruction of the environment, and the need to end violence rather than his religious intolerance.

We would note that Christians often come to different conclusions in their reading of Scripture. We see Mary as a woman of courage who overcame the religious and cultural stigma of illegitimacy. Being shocked by the discovery of her pregnancy does not diminish her faith. Other Christians, such as Mr. Skinner seem to be upset by this idea about Mary, and believe that their ideas about her are the only legitimate ones. We don’t question his right to express them, only his manner of doing so.

Frankly, we are tired of Christian intolerance—and embarrassed by it. As Christians we need to wonder if we can truly love our neighbours while demonising them? When will we recognise that none of us have the whole truth? When will we recognize that those who hold contrary opinions are not ‘of the devil’? When will we recognise that truth comes in many guises, often in unexpected ways?

Christmas is an opportunity to recognise that people understand Jesus' birth in a huge variety of ways. Let's celebrate that.


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