Smoking ban threatens churches with closure
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 ‘No Smoking’ 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 ‘daft’, and the Dean of Peterborough has received a very heavy-handed letter informing him that if he fails to comply, he will be ‘closed down’.
Now then… 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 ‘bells and smells’ 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 Wednesday…
(and please, no ‘jokes’ about Cranmer’s propensity to ‘smoke’, or other distasteful allusions to that fateful day…)