Dafter and Dafter
We got one of the Government’s nice letters this week telling us that we need to put up no smoking signs in church, despite the fact that no-one ever smokes in our building. Ever. At all. Not even the swingy, incense thing (as if that would happen in our church). Needless to say, Cranmer has more to say on this:
In all of Cranmerâ€™s years in ministry, he has witnessed all manner of things in churches and cathedrals. These include the wearing of bikinis and swimming trunks, the eating of ice cream, women doing their make-up, men holding hands (with other men), beer, whisky, pornography magazines, condoms (really), and a sizeable smattering of smuttiness.
But never, no, not even once, has he ever witnessed anyone light up and smoke.
There are some 16,000 churches in England and not one has a problem of smoking. Despite this, the Government, in its increasingly infinite wisdom, requires all public places of worship to display prominent â€˜No Smokingâ€™ signs in their foyers from 1st July, even if those foyers are Grade I listed. The Dean of Southwark, the Very Rev Colin Slee, has already said that these regulations are â€˜daftâ€™, and the Dean of Peterborough has received a very heavy-handed letter informing him that if he fails to comply, he will be â€˜closed downâ€™.
Now thenâ€¦ being a rather contrary cleric, Cranmer advises the Dean of Peterborough to refuse to comply. Yes, he knows that there all sorts of scriptures that demand compliance with the laws of the land, but this one is so absurd as to be laughable. He can hardly wait for the local council to enforce the closure of the cathedral, with all the attendant publicity to highlight the absurdity of regulation of which there is and never has been a transgression.
The bizarre thing is that the Government permits the continuing use of the highly carcinogenic incense, but demands the banning of tobacco (in a place where none is consumed). Why should altar boys be subject to the â€˜bells and smellsâ€™ cancer-causing chemicals? Why does the Government not intervene to protect these young innocents?
Cranmer wonders how long it will be before there are signs for the compulsory wearing of lifebelts around the font. There are just seven weeks for churches and cathedrals (and mosques, mandirs and gurdwaras) to comply with this legislation. If the Government had had a sense of humour, they would at least have given a temporary derogation until Ash Wednesdayâ€¦
(and please, no â€˜jokesâ€™ about Cranmerâ€™s propensity to â€˜smokeâ€™, or other distasteful allusions to that fateful dayâ€¦)
Do you know what? For once in my life I might actual agree with Colin Slee on something. I would love to see hoards of churches not bother with these notices and see what happens.