Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre – one of Europe’s biggest – has blocked a performance of a classic Christmas song because it claims it must be “impartial on religion”.
Shopping centre chiefs had been asked if they would allow a ‘flash mob’ to entertain shoppers with a surprise rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah.
The proposal was inspired by a similar event in Canada where a flash mob sang the chorus in a shopping mall food court.
A video of the heart-warming performance has become an internet smash hit with 25 million views on YouTube.
Revd Julian Mann, vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension in Oughtibridge, Sheffield, contacted Meadowhall’s management to ask if they would allow a similar event.
If they had said yes, Revd Mann wanted to try to organise a choir of Sheffield singers. But they said no.
However, it was their explanation that raised eyebrows. A Meadowhall representative emailed the explanation to the Revd Mann.
It stated: “Meadowhall Shopping Centre is open to the general public and therefore must remain impartial towards any one religion or political leaning.
“The Centre would therefore be unable to give permission for a flash mob choir – similar to the one in Ontario, Canada – to perform.”
Revd Mann said it was a shame that “in the Siberia of political correctness the Hallelujah chorus is frozen out.”
The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge said: “Banning Handel’s Messiah at Christmas is madness, and it’s typical of everything that’s wrong with the equality killjoys. Let Christmas be Christmas.”
Following media exposure of its refusal, the shopping centre has issued a statement saying it is open to considering such a request in the future, and confirmed that they have hosted gospel choirs in the past.
Last month Government minister Eric Pickles urged local councils to celebrate Christmas in the traditional Christian way and stop worrying about the PC brigade.
He said: “We should actively celebrate the Christian basis of Christmas, and not allow politically correct Grinches to marginalise Christianity and the importance of the birth of Christ”.