Redundant Churches

Oral Answers to Questions — Church Commissioners – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th June 1991.

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Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West 12:00 am, 24th June 1991

To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, representing the Church Commissioners, how many redundant churches have been sold or leased to churches which are not mainstream Christian denominations.

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Selby

Since 1969, 90 redundant churches have been acquired for worship by other Christian bodies. It is not for the commissioners to judge which of these are "mainstream", in the terms of the question, but I am letting the hon. Gentleman have a list of those which have been made available.

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. I welcome redundant churches being taken over by Sikhs and Muslims for their temples. I am concerned about some of the right-wing, fundamentalist, out-to-lunch religious groups, such as the Ronald Reagan holy jellybean church. I have a letter from a friendly cleric in the east end of London, in which he tells me that some loony churches are telling members of their congregations that to vote Labour will damn their eternal souls or that it would cause their bottoms to drop off. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman would deprecate such wild statements being made. I hope that he will encourage the Church Commissioners to ensure that the loony fundamentalist churches do not get hold of redundant buildings.

Photo of Mr Michael Alison Mr Michael Alison , Selby

If the loony left in the London Labour party were to take to the Christian religion, I suspect that it would swing markedly to the right. The loony religious aspect to which the hon. Gentleman referred rarely finds expression in overt political dispositions, of either the right or the left. Where there is any doubt whether the church is mainstream in the Christian sense of the word, consultations are widely held locally. The hon. Gentleman will be invited to sit in judgment on whether a mainstream church is well represented by a loony fundamentalist church. I hope that when he meets some of the fundamentalist churches, especially from the Afro-Caribbean sector, he will discern how extremely desirable, honourable and religious—in the best sense of the word—they are.