Sheffield shopping centre says no to Christian 'flash mob'

Shops across the country may be bedecked with seasonal decorations and Christmas greetings, but one of Europe’s largest shopping centres says it cannot allow a Christian ‘flash mob’ because of concerns over impartiality.

According to Julian Mann, aka Anglican blogger Cranmer’s Curate, the Meadhowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield has refused permission for a choir to sing “the kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever” in its food court.

Local Christians were inspired to attempt a Christmas flash mob in the shopping centre after a choir did something similar in the Seaway Mall in Welland, Ontario, Canada.

Last week a flash mob choir surprised commuters in Sheffield train station when they emerged from the crowds to sing a medley of Christmas carols on the main concourse.

A spokeswoman for Meadowhall told Cranmer’s Curate: “Meadowhall Shopping Centre is open to the general public and therefore must remain impartial towards any one religion or political leaning.

“The Centre would therefore be unable to give permission for a flash mob choir – similar to the one in Ontario, Canada – to perform.”

While the shopping centre is unwilling to allow a Christian flash mob to celebrate the birth of Jesus, it is happy to recommend on its website the Meadowhall Gift Card as the “perfect present this Christmas” and extend its opening hours to give shoppers more time to buy all their gifts before for the big day.

Mann, who is also vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension in Oughtibridge, put Meadowhall’s decision down to political correctness.

He wrote on his blog: “No room in the food court for the King of kings and Lord of lords because the centre management must not be seen to favour one religion over another. It must be ‘impartial’.

“Except of course no shopping centre serving the UK public can achieve such religious impartiality.

“The Name of Christ appears in the word ‘Christmas’, one world religion’s festival that gets a much higher profile in the shops than that of any other ‘faith group’ in the UK.

“The banishment of Christmas from a shopping centre would not go down very well with the retailers.”