Buddhist chanting, a pagan ‘blessing’ and the Islamic call to prayer have all featured at Gloucester Cathedral as part of the launch of a multi-faith art exhibition.
‘Faith’ features large portraits of 35 individuals from numerous religions – including Zoroastrians, Druids and Baha’is.
It comes after a passage from the Koran denying that Jesus is the Son of God was read during a Scottish Episcopal Church service.
‘Faith’ seeks to consider similarities between religions and is on display at the Cathedral until the end of February.
The launch event proved controversial, with one critic saying her ancestors built the cathedral and it was “naïve” to promote other religions in a space “built for our saviour”.
Isabel Farmer, writing on the Cathedral’s Facebook page, said: “Stand firm Christians. Bring people to the faith by telling them the truth. God is the same yesterday, today, forever”.
Gloucester Cathedral promoted its event by saying there would be Buddhist chanting, Rasta drumming, Hindu dancing, a Gospel choir and a pagan rock band.
“The event will really be an exciting event full of firsts for the world of faith”, it added.
Writing on social media afterwards, David Thompson said he had given a pagan “blessing”.
And Tenjo Hopwood, commenting on behalf of Gloucester meditation centre and a Buddhist temple, said different “paths of peace” had come together.
‘Bridges of understanding’
The Dean of the Cathedral has since defended what happened, saying the gathering did not take place “in a sacred space” but in the Cathedral cloisters and Chapter House.
In Glasgow, the church service featuring a passage from the Koran was criticised by one of the Queen’s chaplains.
Revd Dr Gavin Ashenden, in a letter published in The Times, referred to the reading as “blasphemy”.
“There are other and considerably better ways to build ‘bridges of understanding’”, he added.