Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Chester Cathedral Controversy on Radio 4

This morning, BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme interviewed both the Bishop of Chester and David Usher, a British Unitarian minister, about Unitarians being 'disinvited' from Chester Cathedral for our GA service. You can listen again here, at least for the next week.

My take on it is that I'm not really bothered that the Cathedral has disinvited us. That's up to them. It seems it was a member of the public (not a member of the cathedral) who complained about our presence in the Catheral. If they have rules, they have to stick to them, fair enough.

Also, we can't have our cake and eat it. If we accept that you don't have to be a Christian to be a Unitarian, then we can't expect to be welcomed fully ecumenically by Christian bodies. If it was the Unitarian Christian Association that had been turned down then be could talk about ecumenical issues, the Trinity etc. But as it's the GA I think we have to look at it as an interfaith issue, not an ecumenical one. Can Christian churches allow other religions to worship in their buildings? This does happen. I'm sure there's some Church of England churches that allow another religion to use their building. The Baha'is have used our Unitarian church for many years. Are cathedrals different from churches?

I think the Times article is a bit over the top. I don't think the cathedral has 'denounced the Unitarian Church for heretical views.' There's certainly no quote from anyone saying that. They've simply said we're not Christian.

I don't know any Unitarian who's upset by this. I think we're just glad to be getting national publicity. I think David Usher did a reasonably good job simply saying what Unitarians are, which is the most important thing.

I was also amused that the interviewer called him 'the Right Reverend David Usher.' We suddenly have a Unitarian bishop!


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