Scottish Churches to Pray for Teenage Buckfast Drinkers

Local church leaders in the Airdrie and Coatbridge area of Scotland will unite for three days of prayer to loosen the grip of the tonic wine Buckfast on teenage drinkers in the area.

|PIC1|More than a dozen churches are on a mission to restore the reputation of Airdrie and Coatbridge - and they have targeted Buckfast as the major problem, rebranding the area 'Buckfast Valley', reports the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser.

Pastor David Bell of Coatbridge's Elim Family Church is one of the church leaders organising the prayer event. He said: "We're fed up hearing about the problems in the area, the Buckfast Valley syndrome.

"It's an undeniable fact that in the local community Buckfast is a predominant factor in under-age drinking. I walk frequently with my dog and I see evidence of Buckfast everywhere with bottles lying around."

"To say it's not a contributory factor, the people that make it are blinkered, but then they don't live in the community."

The wine is made by Benedictine Monks in Devon and distributed by J Chandler and Co. The company's spokesperson put down the complaints of the local clergy as unfair.

"They miss the point when they blame one brand of alcohol.

"As Buckfast neither advertise or promote the brand in Scotland, we can do no more than we already are to keep it out of the hands of young people."

The Buckfast distributors already faced a hard time last year when Scotland's First Minister Jack McConnell backed claims by his Health Minister Andy Kerr that the drink itself was irresponsible.

McConnell defended Kerr at the time, saying: "It (Buckfast) is not only a drink which is particularly attractive to younger people for a number of reasons, but it is also a badge of pride amongst those who are involved in antisocial behaviour. So I think the health minister was absolutely right to target it."

J Chandler and Co hit back at the First Minister, saying that the Executive was to blame for antisocial behaviour, not the drinks industry, because of its failure to punish the individuals responsible.

The church leaders will gather for the three days of prayer from January 9 to 11.

Following their prayer effort against Buckfast, the churches plan to hold similar prayer sessions to bring about a "fresh appreciation of the joy of Christian marriage" and "the rediscovery of true love in place of the sexualisation of society".

Churches taking part are Townhead Church of Scotland, Glenboig Church of Scotland, St Andrew's Church of Scotland, Glenboig Christian Fellowship, Elim Family Church, Plains Evangelical Church, Glenview Evangelical Church, Ebenezer Evangelic Church, Ebenezer Congregational Church, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Airdrie Baptist, Coatbridge Baptist, Coatbridge West Free and the Airdrie Salvation Army.