Jonah’s whale banned from UK park on religious grounds

Plans to put an inflatable whale in a London park for a re-enactment of the biblical story of Jonah have been refused because it would be too “religious”.

The Potters Fields Park Management Trust recently denied the UK Bible Society’s request to erect the inflatable whale at London’s Potters Fields Park.

The whale was going to serve as a place where children could see actors re-enact the Old Testament story of a whale swallowing the prophet Jonah.

The attraction was to stay in a park beside the Thames during the summer months while children were out of school.

The 16-metre inflatable sea mammal has been beached on the same spot in the past as part of a pirate-themed attraction for children.

Actors were being lined up to play Jonah and other characters as part of an ambitious drive by the Bible Society to help reintroduce a new generation of children to once familiar stories.

It follows research showing that children are increasingly unable to identify Bible stories such as Noah’s Ark or Moses.

The Bible Society insists the aim is not to promote any religious teaching.

Rather, it would introduce children to some of the most dramatic stories previous generations would have known.

But the chief executive of the Potters Fields Park Management Trust, which runs the site, turned down the request.

“I am afraid that under the terms of our lease we are not allowed to have any events of a religious nature,” was the explanation.

James Catford, chief executive of the Bible Society, said: “We’re not here to tell children what to believe.

“We simply want to give them a really fun experience they will always remember.”

The Telegraph, in London, editorialised against the ban.

“Whether they swallow it whole or not, children have a right to know the story,” the editorial stated.

“Bible stories are not a crime – yet,” it concluded.



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