Paisley’s legacy: “when reason and emotion collide, emotion invariably wins”

Will the obituaries of Ian Paisley have to be re-written as Malachi O’Doherty suggests? Well, maybe. But Malachi does squeeze some new insights from Eamonn’s second and final episode of his two part serial interview on the big man:

Another consideration is that Ian Paisley is driven more by heart than head. The positive side of this is that he is wonderfully charming and decent, sometimes. Ann Travers wrote on Facebook this week about how he came to her family after her sister, Mary, had been shot dead by the IRA. He hugged her. She was 14 years old and he prayed with her.

This, from the firebrand evangelical whose literal theology will have told him that Mary was a lost soul. There were many times, dealing with the bereaved, when Ian Paisley chose to be not so literal at all. When SDLP MLA Eddie McGrady’s wife, Patricia, died, Paisley crossed the Assembly chamber and knelt down beside him and prayed with him. And some people would say that was showy and intrusive, but McGrady was glad of that and said so.

The other thing about Paisley is that he is not a political tactician; he has always been the front man who functioned best when he had someone else’s brains behind him. He is not remotely in the same league as Gerry Adams in his ability to hold to a line for calculated effect.

He is not very bright. Yes, he has barnstorming eloquence, but he gave up much of the prospect of personal intellectual development when he aligned himself to a literal faith. He knows the Book and, if he doesn’t know much else, then that doesn’t bother him, because, for him, only the Book matters.

That, as previously noted was at the age of six. Not much time to develop a secular sense of the world about him.

But as Drew Westen has noted “in politics, when reason and emotion collide, emotion invariably wins”. Paisley’s brand of politics didn’t harm him until the end, but it raised unrealistic expectations of turning back an overwhelming ecumenist tide.

The long term corollary of the clash two large and interdependent emotion driven tribes was well expressed by Ian Parsley earlier in the week:

One thinks the world was founded 6000 years ago; the other thinks the IRA’s terrorist campaign was legitimate. Get this people – you are *not* going to persuade them to change their ways by reasoned debate!

Back in 1979 that overweening religiosity led the banning The Life of Brian (we got to see it in the parish youth club of all places). And in some places, not much has changed.

If the United Kingdom was once a discernibly a Protestant state, these days it owes more to the dissenting humanism of Erasmus than Calvin’s Geneva or the Calvinist Republic of Antwerp.

  • Comrade Stalin

    As several commentators have pointed out, there is more than one Ian Paisley.

    I was rereading an old book about Paisley, “Persecuting Zeal” by Dennis Cooke. One part recounts how the residents of Rathlin Island wrote him a letter shortly after he was elected to Westminster, not expecting a reply (they had been ignored for decades). They were surprised when Paisley, some time later, sailed to the island on a small boat to see the place for himself, and then set to work pulling strings everywhere, organizing an electricity connection, upgraded water and sewerage, etc.

    There are countless stories like this, and it seems pretty clear on a superficial level that the man took his sense of duty to his constituents very seriously.

    But in fact there is a political strategy to these matters. Establishing yourself as a guy who will help anyone, irrespective of their religion, is a great way to make people who might otherwise have real problems with your fruitcake politics to actually vote for you. It presents many of us with a real dilemma. Do I vote for the religious fundamentalist who talks up hate and undermines the rule of law, but yet gets the potholes fixed, the local roads upgraded, and generally fights my corner ? Or do I vote for the completely agreeable middle of the road moderate guy who is completely sound on his liberal values but would rather head to Westminster to debate Nelson Mandela than sort out any local problems ?

  • Charles_Gould

    I have never thought an MPs job is to do the potholes stuff. It’s legislation.

  • Brian Walker

    Maybe for the first time it’s possible to stand back and assess Paisley dispassionately, now that what he says has minimum political impact (though I wouldn’t say none).

    You might say that it were better had he never been born. In the 1950s and 60s he enflamed Protestant neuroses at a time when they needed what today would be called cognitive behavioural therapy. The bitter verdicts are perfectly understandable, that he was in a sense the Provos best friend and the Grand Old Duke of York who led loyalists along the path to violence and got offside when they took him at his word. He does not deserve outsiders’ lionising for very belatedly righting the terrible wrongs he had earlier committed.

    While I doubt that the obituaries need more than a new reference to the serpent’s tooth, Malachi is right to emphasise his calculated lack of self- control, how he regarded it as a virtue to let rip because the Lord had taken him over. When Paisley felt offended, the Lord could also speak with jeering venom, as we heard in those comments about “still living with my wife.” Yes he had other sides to him. Politically his working class populism eventually demolished the big tent of Ulster Unionism shorn of power. He could concede the fact of discrimination against Catholics but level furious accusations of republican conspiracy when real live Catholics began to demonstrate – and so help bring potency to republican conspiracy.

    While several times Paisley exaggerated threats to his person, he was not without physical courage. I saw him placing himself between a crowd in lynch mood and a mentally deficient man who was cheering at the bombed wreckage of a shop on the Shankill, in which a young child was killed. White and sweating Paisley took quite a few blows that day. Rough charm and a terrific memory for names and faces were part of his armoury – and a powerful charisma if you like that sort of thing, as his chorus of ululating women admirers plainly did.

    Don’t be deceived by the bluster. While less obviously calculating than Adams I wouldn’t say Paisley was no political tactician. Yes the Action Council strike of 1977 was an ignominious failure, rescued only by the unwisdom of the police to charge him and see him acquitted. But he could chose the moment to strike and when to get off side. Contrary to the impression Eamonn left us with, he suddenly discovered urgent business in Canada during the UWC strike in 1974. This was the UDA’s and Vanguard ‘s show not his and not many people may remember that he held only 9 out of 78 seats( from memory) in the 1973-74 Assembly

    But he reaped the benefit when the party secretary and fixer, a young man called Peter Robinson, took the East Belfast seat in 1979. And this is where we came in.

  • pauluk

    She was 14 years old and [Ian Paisley] prayed with her. This, from the firebrand evangelical whose literal theology will have told him that Mary was a lost soul.

    This comment reveals the extremely shallow understanding that many have of Ian Paisley and, indeed, evangelical Christians. Evangelical Christians do not shun people because those people do not view God the same way that they do. Rather, they want people to come to a clear understanding of the love of God as it is shown through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for sinners – Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, atheist, animist and Jew alike.

  • Yes, we should (as Brian Walker pontificates) stand back and assess Paisley dispassionately.

    But what about his “Poujadiste” legacy? {Look it up!]

    It amounts to a populist rhetoric which appeals to small shop-keeper and lower middle-class values. And it’s at least half-a-century out-of-date.

    And then we reach this depth:

    “Blasphemous” play cancelled in UK after protests by religious fundamentalists

    Renowned theatre group has Bible show cancelled after complaints

    The Reduced Shakespeare Company has an international reputation. More than that, they are fun, populist.

    Then they hit…

    According to UTV, the company was due to perform The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged), at the Theatre At the Mill in Newtonabbey in Northern Ireland next week at the beginning of a UK tour. The RSC is famous for its fast-paced irreverent shows based on great texts. The group describes the Bible adaptation as “an affectionate, irreverent roller coaster ride from fig leaves to final judgement.”

    But local politician Billy Ball, of Reverend Ian Paisley’s ruling Democratic Unionist Party, had called for the irreverent show to be banned. Ball is reported as saying: “For Christians, the Bible is the infallible word of God and it’s not something to be made fun of. These people are treating something sacred with irreverence and disrespect”

    Now, look: I have no objection to Norden Iron being an object of ridicule, but this …

  • Neil

    The council — which is run by the protestant Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) founded by the firebrand reverend Ian Paisley — took the decision to ban “The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged)”, due to be staged in the Theatre at the Mill in Newtownabbey later this month, following complaints.

    And another unicorn bites the dust.

  • BluesJazz

    Interesting that Paisley took the title Lord ‘Bannside’. The constituency that Captain O Neill held from 1946-1970. There was never a biography of Terence O’Neill so his views on Paisley are not recorded. Brian Faulkner always referred to “the demon doctor”, knowing full well that Paisley’s ‘doctorate’ was a sham title from a hick bible college run by a racist loony.

    It’s clear now that those guys knew (read O’Neill’s crossroads speech) that HMG was determined to follow the route we are now on.
    I’m guessing Adams and McGuinness knew this too back in the day, but once the pot of gold was shown to them, like Paisley, they walked in to the light. Leaving behind all the bollocks they spewed to the proles.

  • Malcolm,

    Back the days prior to Direct Rule, local councils had the power to ban any film. The cinema owner in Strabane loved it when Derry Council did ban a film because when he then showed it in Strabane, whose council didn’t issue bans, he would have both showings packed with Derry folks.
    The usual reason for banning a film was “too much sexual content”. The local joke was that those movies had to be watched two or three times by the councillors before they banned everyone else from seeing them.

  • ” and a powerful charisma if you like that sort of thing, as his chorus of ululating women admirers plainly did.”


    I thought Evangelicals prayed in tongues, not ululated. Is this new cultural import from the Middle East or is it from Africa

  • Charles_Gould

    BJ have you not read T O’Neill’s autobioraphy?

  • Comrade Stalin


    Evangelical Christians do not shun people because those people do not view God the same way that they do

    Paul, I know you’re not from here so you won’t have heard Nolan this morning. Willie Thompson (DUP founder) was explaining how Peter Robinson was wrong to attend the funeral of a Catholic police officer who had been murdered by dissident republicans.

    That looks a bit like shunning to me.

  • CS,

    How does Dennis Cooke’s biography compare with Steven Bruce’s? Is Cooke the former Free Presbyterian?

  • sherdy

    Thought it was significant listening to Robbo today talking about the significance of the ‘family’.
    This has always been a DUP USP, but when he advised Wee Ian not to say anything to make things uncomfortable for his family, did he mean the Paisley or the DUP family.
    There just seemed to be an underlying menace in the way he said he was advising him as a ‘father’ – again father of the DUP or father in loco parentis.
    The new Da was certainly letting ‘the wee lad’ to behave himself or else!

  • Comrade Stalin


    Interesting that Paisley took the title Lord ‘Bannside’. The constituency that Captain O Neill held from 1946-1970.

    It was Paisley who deprived him of the constituency in 1970, beating him in the election.


    I’m not sure of your recollection about Paisley heading to Canada for business at the time of the UWC strike in 1974 ? There are photographs of Paisley attending UWC strike meetings.

  • Comrade Stalin

    tmitch57 – I think Cooke is a Methodist, but I could be wrong. He’s certainly not a Free P. I’ve not read the Bruce book yet.

    Only just started rereading it for the first time in a long time, but as I recall it’s a considered and carefully researched contrasting of Paisley’s claims to be part of an old Presbyterian tradition with the reality.


    Robbo’s “family” remarks were weird, especially the way he said he was giving fatherly advice to Paisley Jnr. What sort of patronizing nonsense is that ?

    Robbo says there isn’t a problem but I don’t think this is true. Ian Jnr almost certainly saw the documentary before it was aired and it wouldn’t surprise me if he’d encouraged his father to do it.

  • Neil

    Blessed with the ‘mercy of my silence’.

    Patronising is the default setting. Makes no odds to Jr., he can get elected under any banner, unlike 5 pound Pete.

  • BluesJazz

    Comrade Stalin

    Did Ian Paisley beat Captain O’Neill? I thought Terence stepped down before the election in 1970. He had resigned as PM and off to life peerage (Lord of the Maine).

    Charles Gould
    I didn’t realize O’Neill had an autobiography.

    His successor as PM was Major Chichester Clarke (Paisley, although of military age doesn’t appear to have had a rank during WW”-maybe he was a conscientious objector?-)

  • BluesJazz

    I heard recently that Martys Memorial church on the Ravenhill Road is virtually empty these says. (3,000 capacity). That is good news. Hopefully (looking like)that metropolitan tabernacle snakeoil shop at Whitewell is going the same path.

    The ‘father’ reference by Robinson is creepy.

  • Kevin Says

    Comrade Stalin, O’Neill beat Paisley in Bannside in the general election of 1969. He then resigned and took a peerage, with Paisley beating Bolton Minford in the subsequent by-election of 1970.

    The suggestion from BluesJazz that the Free Presbyterian Church on the Ravenhill Road is called Martys Memorial presumably means that it has been renamed in honour of the deputy first minister.

  • I doubt that Paisley’s obituary will be re-written; they are generally an appraisal after death. The historiography of his life, however, will go through continuous revision – his career is already being reappraised (which I have contributed to). In the meantime, blogging will provide little insight into Paisley’s career save emotional and unreasonable opinions. To argue that Lord Bannside is not very bright and was not a political tactician is astounding. His brand of politics not only made the DUP the largest party in Northern Ireland but Paisley First Minister. It was not only the Peter Robinsons behind him, but Paisley’s political evolution and willingness to make subtle compromises to his religiosity (such as his eschatology).

    On one hand, his Calvinist activism was always separate from his politics – it drove protests against ecumenism and the Life of Brian etc late into Paisley’s career. These are matters that Free Presbyterians cared about.

    On the other hand, his DUP politics could accommodate secular supporters – the choice of candidates, Sabbatarianism, DUP fund raising tactics that Free Presbyterian purists disliked etc. Moreover, when a devout theologian and/or politician is not persuaded by ‘reasoned debate’ (or sitting in parliament), then their beliefs can be considered sincere. There was and is only one Ian Paisley; just separate and sometimes contradictory roles.

    There is a biography of O’Neill, by Marc Mulholland (published last year);

    Yes, Dr. Paisley was given an honorary doctorate by Bob Jones University. Paisley’s knowledge of theology is controversial but equal to graduates of any seminary. I am not a supporter of Bob Jones, but the school’s theology or their social and racial policies (which are different today than in the 1960s), but statements posted ought to be fair. The university is hardly hick and is accredited – their graduates are accepted into any secular graduate school. While Bob Jones Jr. (who was Paisley’s prime ally in North America until his death) most probably held racist opinions, he was not a Klansman and until 1970 it was illegal in South Carolina to operate an integrated school. That said, Jones still has to answer for his support of segregation. He was not a ‘loon’ but but a man of diverse abilities – he was an alumni of the University of Pittsburgh’s graduate school and a Shakespearean actor that was offered roles in Hollywood.

    Dennis Cooke’s biography is different from Steve Bruce’s. Cooke was/is a Methodist minister and generally despises Paisley, while Bruce, a sociology professor at University of Aberdeen (and previously at Queens) is academic and more objective. The former Free Presbyterian who wrote about Paisley is Clifford Smyth (Ian Paisley: Voice of Protestant Ulster).

  • Mick Fealty


    I hate to disappoint, but if you ever write copy for a US wire that’s what they do with it. Catholic SDLP, Protestant leader, etc.. Annoying to the purist, but that’s how US audiences decipher our otherwise inscrutable little ruck here. And that’s despite many years of Catholic Republican outreach.

    Something lost in translation?

  • Neil

    Oh I dunno, the DUP are pretty Protestant, and making NI an international laughing stock, again, is unlikely to keep any unicorns that may be floating around, within the Unionist pen. I happen to think the RSC story is quite a big one, but then I would say that.

  • Mick Fealty

    Well, in Newtownabbey, they certainly are. And Wallace Thompson’s Calvinist outburst usefully pushed more progressive subjects off Nolan.

    All great steam, but to bring it back to Eamonn’s interview again, I had this from an old school friend, which I think covers most of the pertinent bases:

    Paisley interviews were fascinating. I was surprised Mallie wasn’t harder on him in the first programme because after all he caused the troubles: his ego and his Book.

    The other thing is the relationship Mallie has built up with the Paisleys – obviously this was his reward. And he was [further] rewarded by seeing an old man and his embittered wife make fools of themselves.

    I think we’re seeing the end of that destructive form of social Calvinism, and possibly, in the likes of the Skainos project, the beginning of another more progressive use of Protestant social values.

  • Delphin

    The point about Paisley’s doctorate is that it is honorary. The etiquette, both here and in America, is that honorary degrees should not used as titles. Only doctorates earned by study and research then awarded by an accredited organisation give the right to use the title ‘Doctor’
    Mr. W. McCrea MP, gospel singer and UVF sympathiser, also uses the title Dr, apparently awarded by the Mariette Bible College, Ohio, USA, no doubt another fine university

  • streetlegal

    Robinson’s extraordinary comment directed through the television cameras at Ian Paisley Jnr show that he is aware that a plans are being made by the Wilsonite pragmatists, a grouping which includes Paisley Jnr, to oust Robinson from the leadership later this year. The Doddomite reactionaries are also getting ready to make their pitch. Robinson appears increasingly isolated, as support drifts away to one challenger or the other.

  • Brian Walker

    Bluesjazz and stalin
    Paisley didn’t defeat Terence O’Neill in Bannside in 1969. He ran him close by 1400 votes, a humiliation for the PM who soon left office having failed to get enough of his “pro ONeill” slate elected. In my view a better campaigner would have swung it but there we are. O’Neill resigned the seat in 1970, Paisley won it by 1000 votes on the same day Willie Beattie won S Antrim and so founding the electoral fortunes of the Protestant, later the Democratic Unionist party.

    In 1974 Paisley had left for Canada prior to the strike in a move seen as hedging his bets on political action he didn’t dominate. He returned when he saw which way the wind was v blowing. He benefited when Vanguard split over its leader Bill Craig’s sudden support for a voluntary coalition in the 1975 Convention. But the UWC strike was not Paisley’s show.

  • Sherdy[11.33] I must say I wasn’t expecting Robinson to come out with that old nonsense about the DUP being more a family than a political , explaining that this mean’t they didn’t indulge in the usual backbiting and backstabbing associated with parties. But there he was keeping a straight face while spouting , what in the wake of Paisley’s film, it’s obvious to anyone the DUP is [quietly in some cases] at war with itself. The condescending tone of his remarks about Ian jnr show he’s spitting nails behind the scenes.

  • Morpheus

    If ever there was a message from PR to IPJ to just sit there and be grateful for whatever scraps he throws his way then that public interview was it. Maybe the ‘fatherly advice’ should come from his father eh?

    Question is, has IPJ got the nads to tell him to go screw himself or will be it ‘Yes sir Mr Robinson sir”?

  • Michael Gillespie

    Hi Mick
    In a comment elsewhere on Slugger I have already noted that Paisley does what the constitution empowers him to do. While it can be said that GB s now largely secular nevertheless it remains constitutionally protestant due to the Coronation Oath which states that it is the duty of the monarch to uphold and maintain the reformed faith throughout the Kingdom. This makes the Kingdom a warm house for Protestants and a cold house for Catholics et al.
    Protestantism in the Kingdom is of two forms. There is High Church Anglicanism in England to which some of the Royal Family belongs. The High Church is Catholic and ecumenically inclined. Then there is Low Church Evangelicalism which is hostile to Catholicism and indisposed towards ecumenism.
    Evangelical Protestantism is dominant in N. Ireland and is concerned about the dilution of Protestantism in three ways –
    1. The growth of Sunday sport and shopping
    2. The practice of protestant politicians attending Requiem Mass
    3. The growth of Ecumenism
    This is the Protestantism to which Ian Paisley belongs and for him the Kingdom is the domain of Protestants due to the Coronation Oath and even though there is an attempt to butter him up he is in reality the champion of an extreme repugnant Evangelical Protestantism in Northern Ireland.
    To counter this extreme form of Protestantism the constitution needs change. The Coronation Oath should be changed from — maintaining the reformed faith – to — maintaining the Christian faith—. In that way the Kingdom can be made into a warm house both for Catholics and Protestants. This can be enshrined in The National Government of Ireland Act suggested in the book— The Theoretical Solution to the British/Irish Problem (Amazon) — by recognising both Christianity and Ecumenism in the constitution of the Federal Kingdom of Ireland something which should appeal to those of a moderate disposition.
    Michael Gillespie

  • Morpheus


    In a timely way Wallace Thompson, the Secretary of the Evangelical Protestant Society, wrote a letter to the Belfast Telegraph (printed today) about his ‘concerns over the erosion of Protestantism’:

    “THE Evangelical Protestant Society, as an evangelical umbrella organisation, which seeks to defend and promote evangelical Protestantism in our changing society, has been concerned about the gradual, but steady erosion of Ulster’s Protestant foundations.

    We have, therefore, written to all Protestant and unionist elected representatives at Stormont and Westminster to urge them to take a firm stand in two specific areas.

    First, there is an alarming decline in respect for the sanctity of the Lord’s Day, with more and more social and sporting events being held on a Sunday.

    The other area of concern relates to the seemingly increasing willingness on the part of some Protestant politicians to attend requiem mass.”

    Needless to say that the letter – along with the other hot topic of the day that we aren’t talking about, the censorship of the arts by the DUP – was welcomed with the derision and scorn with which it deserves.

  • “To counter this extreme form of Protestantism the constitution needs change. The Coronation Oath should be changed from — maintaining the reformed faith – to — maintaining the Christian faith—. In that way the Kingdom can be made into a warm house both for Catholics and Protestants.”

    @Michael Gillespie,

    Either the coronation oath is meaningful or it is meaningless and simply anachronistic. If the latter is the case then it does not need to change. If the former is the case, then your suggested change would merely shrink the population that is being disadvantaged while continuing to discriminate against all non-Christians: Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists and agnostics, etc.

    Thanks for the reminder. I have the Bruce and the Moloney and Pollak biographies that came out at roughly the same time and then the updated Moloney biography (with Pollak’s name not on it). Bruce’s book seems to be about explaining Paisley in the context of NI Evangelical Protestantism and explaining the latter phenomenon to secular, mainstream Protestant and Catholic audiences. Moloney writes more as a political reporter explaining Paisley’s actions and thinking. Am I missing anything major about Paisley by not having the other two biographies? The Smyth bio is difficult to obtain in America.

    I own three bios of Trimble, but other than these two I don’t see any unionist leader that is worth the investment of multiple biographies either in financial terms on my part or in terms of the time and expense of the authors. Robinson might merit a good biography, possibly by Moloney. Faulkner is the only older unionist leader who merits a major biography, but all there is is a short bio from the early 1970s and his memoirs published after his death by his widow.

  • Michael Gillespie

    Hi tmitch57
    If you read the full reforms of the Monarchy in the book already indicated, you will find that all non-christians Jews Muslims etc aren’t discriminated against but are of equal status to Christians.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Kevin, Brian – many thanks for the corrections.

    Kevin – Paisley’s church was always called the Martyr’s Memorial, at least as long as I can remember.

  • BluesJazz

    I meant Martyr’s Memorial.

    Must have been Freudian slip with Marty’s.

    It’s an empty vessel now compared to its heydays. That may have added to the slip.

  • GEF

    Paisley’s church on the Ravenhill Rd Belfast was named after these Protestant Reformers Martyrs.

  • BluesJazz

    Well, for a venue of 3,000. It gets fewer attendees nowadays than the *banned* RSC (abridged) play that was due to take place in Newtownabbey.

    The times they are a changing, in Belfast if not Newtownabbey. The last redoubt of Paisley’s ‘vision’.

    Twinned with Westboro.

    That ghost ship full of cannibal rats, if landed ashore at Jordanstown would find a natural home.

  • Neil

    Row over DUP claims Northern Ireland arts too elitist

    Lolz, you couldn’t make it up. The DUP will tackle elitism in the arts by barring any smut, humour or non literal translations of the good book from the stage.

    DUP: Vote Unionist, get theocracy.

  • tmitch,

    Purchasing the Smyth book in North America is difficult, although worldcat lists @ 100 libraries that have it. Both Smyth and Cooke have important insights into Paisley’s ministry – Smyth writes from a Free Presbyterian perspective (he was a Paisleyite at the time of writing, but has since had a falling out with Paisley) and Dennis Cooke takes the viewpoint of the ecumenical Methodist (which he is) and one that despises Paisleyism. Moloney comes off as a political writer, because that’s what he is and Bruce’s books on Paisley are the well-researched,academic approach. My book, The Second Coming of Paisley, is somewhat biographical and looks at his relationship with American fundamentalists who had political agendas, were segregationists and who strongly opposed the American civil rights movement. It has received a very good review (on this website) and was trashed by Susan McKay in the Irish Times, although her reasoning was primarily based on the premise that she hates Paisley (and you cannot write objectively about him) and that Paisley’s political career had nothing to do with his religiosity. Her review made absurd assertions (about Bruce’s work for instance) and contained factual errors. Moreover, the Irish Times would not publish my response and my only recourse was to post it on my blog

    I hope this helps.

  • Gopher

    Not a friend of the DUP but the arts *is* too elitist here and needs public funding ended to stop the undoubted abuse. Culture is without question a ministry could save money on by abolishing. As for the un liberal banning whilst the DUP are certainly the most comical all the major parties indulge in the practice.

  • Seamuscamp

    Michael Gillespie

    I think you have been in a time warp. When I first came to England, thesort of disadvantage to which you refer was certainly a feature of socirty (“No dogs, No blacks, No Irish) when I came to England 50 years ago. But it isn’t the case now. Churches work together in ways that would have been beyond the imagination a generation ago.

    At national. Regional, and local level, the Churches Together movement sees an increasingly ecumenical approach to mutual concerns. Have a look at to get a flavour of the variety of Churches – certainly more minestrone than tomato – who seek to cooperate. My local Catholic church was attended by a local vicar when one of his erstwhile parishoners “converted” to Rome; our parish supports the food bank run by the local Elims; all the local churches took part in a joint Good Friday procession through the town; RC masses are regularly celebrated by our priest in C of E churches in isolated rural communities. Already this year there have been two ecumenical services in local churches, actively supported by RC, C of E, Baptist, Congregational and Methodist churches.

    No doubt there are slavering sectarian bigots among us, but they are invisible from day to day. Those of my generation still have our prejudices but we are rather ashamed and mostly resolve to do better. The two Christian commandments are given due weight.

  • Charles_Gould

    PCI is going to run into problems on gays…’s position isn’t going to be sustainable, I recon.

  • Charles_Gould

    Gopher you philistine!

    Arts needs funding, the market fails in art.