A Roman Catholic group has been told it can’t advertise an event on religion and climate change in local libraries unless it removes words like ‘Christian’ and ‘God’ from the text.
Is Camden Council right to ban the poster?
The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge debates the issue with Terry Sanderson of the National Secular Society.
Camden Council said that while it was happy to promote events supporting green issues, it would not allow any posters promoting religion.
Yet the council provides inquirers with details of mosques, Muslim study groups, and Islamic social groups.
A council press release from 2004 declares: “Camden council raises awareness of Islam”, and includes a quotation from a former leader stating “it is important that we work hard to spread a true picture of Islam and the Muslim faith.”
Organisers of the Roman Catholic event said the North London council had been supportive in the past and said they could not understand why their stance had changed.
The group, Our Lady Help of Christians in Kentish Town, wanted to put up posters for the event, due to take place in October.
The posters advertise a talk entitled Climate Change is a Christian Issue, a visit from a member of the Christian Ecology Link and a Pet Blessing along with a performance by a local school choir.
Organiser Jo Siedlecka said she had tried to use her local library’s distribution service to advertise the event.
She said: “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.”
She added: “This is bizarre. This is annoying.”
A spokesman for Camden Council said: “We are happy to put up posters supporting green issues but council policy does not allow the promotion of religion.”
The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge said the decision was “ridiculous”, adding that “most people will roll their eyes and shake their heads at it”.
“But it is serious because it reveals a problem deep at the heart of too many public bodies”, he continued.
“They think it’s OK to trample on Christianity in a way that they would never do with any other religious group.
“That complacency has to stop.”
The Times reports that the council is now reconsidering its ban.
It quotes a spokesman as saying: “We have asked them to bring the posters in so we can have another look at them.
“We are very happy to help publicise community events that are open to everyone on our noticeboards.
“However we are not able to accept posters that promote particular religious beliefs or particular points of view.”