Controversial poems to be read in the Welsh Assembly
Patrick Jones (BBC picture)
The decision by Peter Black AM to invite the atheist and poet Patrick Jones to recite some of his allegedly blasphemous works in the Welsh Assembly has been condemned by the campaigning group Christian Voice. The 'prayer and lobby group' has described the event, due to be held in early December, as a disgrace to the Assembly itself.
Earlier this month Waterstone's bookshop in Cardiff cancelled a booklaunch by the poet at short notice. Mr Jones had been expecting to launch the book at the Cardiff Hayes' branch but a few hours before, the poet from Blackwood in Caerphilly county, was contacted by the company to tell him the event had been cancelled "to avoid potential disruption to our store".
The branch said Patrick Jones had e-mailed some of his work to Christian, Muslim and far-right groups to “create a furore”. The writer, whose brother is Manic Street Preacher Nicky Wire, admitted sending the poetry but said he just wanted to spark a debate.
Now Peter Black, who is the LibDem's culture spokesman, has invited Jones, a militant atheist, to read his poems, which call for an end to Christian worship.
After being repeatedly challenged on a BBC Wales programme by Stephen Green, the national director of Christian Voice, Black eventually agreed to extend an invitation to Christians to attend.
Green has said:
'This is a creepy event at which Jesus-hating AM's can swoon over poems packed with hatred for Christianity and which speak of Mary Magdalene and the poet having sex with the Lord Jesus Christ. They will also hear Jones' unfettered hatred of Christianity, which he has somehow managed to convince himself is indistinguishable from Islam.
Claire Clancy, the Chief Executive of the Assembly Commission has responded to the furore:
'What they will not hear is Jones insult the prophet Mohammed. He dare not do that at all, let alone in the sexual way he insults Jesus Christ, whom he sees as a soft target.
'Christians in Wales must not take this lying down. We need to stand up for our Lord against this attack on His honour and on the Church itself by Peter Black. He has gone out of his way to show contempt for Christians in Wales . As he is the LibDem Culture Spokesman, that means insulting Jesus Christ is now official LibDem policy. The LibDems have thus become a political party Christians can no longer in conscience vote for or take any part in.''
"Neither officials nor the Assembly Commission make judgments on the nature or purpose of these events except to ensure they would not give rise to any legal problems. The Assembly buildings are public buildings and secular in character. It is our responsibility to ensure that events sponsored by any Assembly members are always allowed to take place without fear of disruption or intimidation whilst respecting the right to peaceful protest."
Meanwhile Trish Law, the independent Assembly Member for Blaenau Gwent has made her views on the Patrick Jones reading crystal clear. Pulling no punches in her letter to the Presiding Officer, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas she has witten:
"While I uphold freedom of speech I cannot condone the reading of blasphemous, obscene and perverted poems in the National Assembly. We are still a Christian country, yet one that acknowledges and readily accepts other religious beliefs and values. So while we would not tolerate other religions and religious leaders being insulted through verse or deed neither should we expect Christ and Christianity to be subjected to a tirade of anti-Christian rhetoric and profanity.
I implore you to put a stop to this reading on December 11th in the name of decency and humanity."
The Assembly reading event is due to take place in the Ty Hywel NAW building at 12 noon on Thursday 11th December. Lorraine Barrett, another Assembly Member and also a member of the National Secular Society, is co-hosting the event.
Christian Voice have now launched a petition against the proposal which Christians are invited to sign.