And another thing… (7 September 2016)

St Mark's Church Broadwater Down Tunbridge Wells

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Rebel vicar: Discriminates over which church traditions he chooses to promote
The Rev Dr Scanlon must be very satisfied that he has reached the front page of the Times of Tunbridge Wells and had significant column inches in the national press.

He does, however, seem rather discriminatory over which church traditions he promotes and which he changes. He was quite happy to discontinue the choir which – according to one report – had been in place at St Mark’s Church for 150 years.

I note from the St Mark’s website that those not confirmed are welcome to go to the altar rail at communion. I am not sure this is a traditional church practice.

The St Mark’s website quotes at the top, ‘Jesus said, I will never turn away anyone who comes to me’.

I would be interested to hear from the Rev Dr Scanlon if this also applies to gay people.

Philip Ovenden
Via email

Congregation should stage boycott of St Mark’s
Thank you for highlighting the appalling homophobia of Rev Dr Peter Sanlon at St Mark’s Church. It is shocking that bigoted attitudes like his persist, especially within religion supposedly based on love. I hope Dr Sanlon’s campaign leads to his services being boycotted by those who consider themselves good Christians.

It would perhaps be very useful if we could hear the views of other local churches, mosques and synagogues and their leaders on the subject.

People are entitled to know what services they can attend without endorsing such backward notions.

Donagh O’Leary
Via email

Do not define my religious beliefs by my sexuality
As someone who happens to be gay and also a committed Christian who has lived in Tunbridge Wells for many years, I can say with complete confidence a significant number of churches are the opposite of inclusive.

Some of these churches will be familiar with my views and my passion for inclusivity for those who are gay and followers of Christ.

I have myself protested publicly when the local church has acted like a bully and stood up to hardcore fundamentalist Christian views in the town and wider afield, which has meant on several occasions being verbally attacked and on one occasion having a death threat.

Whilst Dr Sanlon’s church may not be all things bright and beautiful, I myself share some of his views, and in particular marriage being between a man and a woman. No doubt some in the gay community may throw their toys out of the pram by me saying that, but not even I can bend the scriptures to suit my orientation.

What is sad about the maelstrom Dr Sanlon finds himself in is that once again the church is exhibiting the type of behaviour that many outside, and some inside the church have come to expect – tribal thinking, hostility, disingenuous and exclusivity.

Recently on a visit to a big and vibrant evangelical church near town I was recognised by the greeter on the door who said to me, ‘We are a family church!!’ Basically the we are a family church brigade is code for ‘You are not welcome!’

So let me say to St Mark’s and Dr Sanlon, do not define me by my sexuality because I, too, have a family.

And let me say to the gay community you are welcome in some of our churches and there are particular churches who have made a significant effort in being inclusive, like St Peter’s in Pembury.

Finally, Christianity is about love, and the Bible puts it so beautifully when it says, ‘God is love those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them’ (1 John 4v16)

Matthew Rosenz
Via email

Train strikes: Guards are just not needed
What a fuss about who opens and shuts the train doors. I travel to Tunbridge Wells twice weekly from Waterloo. The driver does the doors as far as Tonbridge and then a guard controls them for the rest of the run.

This is job creation at the fare-payers’ cost and it also means the train has to be cancelled because of ‘staff shortage’ if the guard decides to have a lie-in.

The entire London network, overground and underground, is run totally safely without guards. So are most railways in Europe.

Good luck to nearby Southern in their battle to be able to run a train if a guard does not turn up. The passenger, for once, will be the winner.

Southeastern should bite the bullet and do the same. The strike pain will be worth the ultimate gain of more reliable trains.

J Elson
Via email

EU: Foolish if we tried to go back now
Not only is Alexander Magnus [Letters, August 31] ignoring the positive economic news which has followed the vote for Brexit, he is also missing the point about why so many supported leaving.

It is the deliberately undemocratic nature of the EU, in which unelected bureaucrats are in control and where wishes of the electorate are ignored, which remains the prime objection to membership.

We would be foolish indeed were we, having escaped from this declining and doomed organisation, to follow his advice and reverse our decision.

Colin Bullen
Via email

Stop petty finger-pointing over Brexit
It was to my delight that I noticed Cllr Stewart’s letter in your column with regard to the proposed expansion of my business in Tunbridge Wells [August 10]. It’s nice to see that the powers that be are keeping in touch with the local community via your paper.

However, I must stress that I have, like the majority of our town, not come round to her point of view on Brexit – it’s just that I have been brought up to deal with the situation that is in front of me. The nation made a decision collectively, albeit by a small margin, and here we are.

Now your letter has raised a very important point that I feel both the Remain and Brexit camps have missed amongst the ludicrous political wrangling that we have all been put through over the last few months.

The message needs to be clear Cllr Stewart. Instead of finger-pointing and ‘I told you so’, should we not be rallying the troops together and getting on with business?

Stop the petty finger-pointing and crack on together as a community, because that is exactly what we need to do if, as a nation, we are to make a success of Brexit.

It’s worth noting that we have yet to actually leave and we are just at the start of this adventure. To start making claims that one party’s view is more correct than the other’s merely months after the vote is political point-scoring at its very lowest. Let’s work together and make the best of it, please.

However, thank you for your kind words with regard to my business, and I look forward to greeting you at its doors in the near future.

Matthew Sankey
Via email

Badger cull: Unnecessary and cruel
Thank you very much for publishing the News in Brief story about the RSPCA opposing the badger cull, which looks about to be extended to seven new areas.

At a time when our NHS is caving in, how can it be justified to spend £7,580 killing each individual badger without any scientific evidence to prove this will make a difference to TB in cattle?

Over the last four years of culling there has been no change in the number of cattle destroyed because of TB.

Wales seems to be successfully tackling the problem without culling but with badger vaccination and better management of cattle.

The British Veterinary Association is against the free shooting of badgers as being cruel and inhumane, and it can take many years for an area to recover a healthy eco-system after culling as all wildlife is affected.

The cull will be discussed in Parliament and I would ask readers to contact their MPs and ask them to attend and stand up for our wildlife.

Valerie Russell
Cornfield Way

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