Local park turns down Bible Society's public event for being 'religious'

Published 29 March 2014

Plans to use a giant inflatable whale to share the story of Jonah with children have been turned down by the management of a park next to London's iconic Tower Bridge.

Bible Society had wanted to hire a 50ft whale from a circus troupe and use it to re-enact the Old Testament story in which the Prophet Jonah is swallowed by a whale after ignoring God's call to go and preach repentance to the city of Nineveh.

The reenactment was intended to be staged in Potters Fields park as part of the Pass It On campaign being run by the Bible Society to encourage parents to read Bible stories to their children.

The campaign is inspired by research carried out on behalf of the Bible Society which found that 80 per cent of all parents think their children should have the opportunity to engage with Bible stories.

Although the inflatable whale had been used at the Potters Fields park on a previous occasion for a pirate-themed children's attraction, the management decided that the Bible Society's planned event contravened its terms.

Potters Fields Park Management Trust told the society: "I am afraid that under the terms of our lease we are not allowed to have any events of a religious nature."

The live event is being planned for the summer holidays and the Bible Society is actively searching for another location.

James Catford, Group Chief Executive of Bible Society said: "Our research has shown many parents want children to engage with Bible stories; the challenge is knowing where to begin.

"We thought that giving children the chance to sit in a large inflatable whale and have the story of Jonah told to them was a good place to start.

"We're not here to tell children what to believe. We simply want to give them a really fun experience they will always remember."

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