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Religious posters banned in Camden

PUBLISHED: 11:12 17 September 2009 | UPDATED: 16:27 07 September 2010

CAMDEN council has been criticised by representatives of all major religions after banning a community poster from its libraries because it is too religious. Campaign group Climate Change is a Christian Issue (CCCI) wanted to advertise the

Ben McPartland

CAMDEN council has been criticised by representatives of all major religions after banning a community poster from its libraries because it is too religious.

Campaign group Climate Change is a Christian Issue (CCCI) wanted to advertise their St Francis Weekend event on the environment in Kentish Town library but they were refused because the A4 poster (pictured) contained religious words.

The Town Hall says the poster detailing events on October 3 and 4 promotes religion with its use of the word Christian and a bible reference about the environment. It is therefore banned from public noticeboards under the council's control.

Members of the group, which is based in the Our Lady Help of Christians Church on Lady Margaret Road, reacted with incredulity at the council's stance.

Josephine Siedlecka of CCCI said: "It is nonsense. I am just shocked and surprised. This is a community building exercise we are not going to be walking around bashing people on the head with bibles. The issue of climate change is not limited to religion in any way. Our local corner shop is run by Muslims and they have allowed us to put posters up."

John Dixon, of CCCI said: "I can't see why it should offend anyone. One mention of God is not going to offend Jews or Muslims, it's very unlikely to offend Buddhists or Hindus because they are so tolerant anyway. It won't upset agnostics and you hope atheists would be big enough to take it.

"We would never object to groups from other religions putting up their posters next to ours."

Leaders of other religions have also criticised the move.

Muslim cleric Mohammed Joynal Uddin said: "I would not have any objection to the poster - we are living in a multi-faith society, we should be working together for the good of mankind."

Jon Benjamin, chief executive, Board of Deputies of British Jews said: "If this is a way of appealing to Christians to engage in an important topical debate, then there is nothing at all wrong with a flyer of this nature. There is no suggestion of proselytising or of promoting intolerance and there can be no reasonable objection."

The events on the poster include a traditional pet blessing and a talk by television broadcaster Mark Dowd.

Mr Dowd told the Ham&High: "I find it bizarre. You would have thought that instead of saying no religious posters they would look at each individual one and judge them on their own merit."

A spokeswoman for Camden Council said: "We are very happy to help promote community events. However we are not able to accept posters that promote particular religious beliefs or political points of view."

But the spokeswoman would not say if the council had independently adopted this policy or when it had been introduced.

When the Ham&High visited two libraries in neighbouring Haringey and Islington they both offered to display the poster.

But the council's stance has won support among non-religious groups.

Terry Sanderson, president of The National Secular Society, said: "Councils should keep religion in its place. You have to have a policy across the board saying this is a secular library.

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