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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 20:16 GMT
Clergyman calls for Christmas ban
Nativity Church, Bethlehem
Rev Swan wants people to think about the meaning of Christmas
A clergyman has called for Christmas to be cancelled because commercialism has "hijacked" the spiritual meaning.

The Rev Martin Swan, from Greater Manchester, said the festive season was a time of "madness" that brought sadness and misery.

He called on people to stop using Christmas as an excuse for a party.

Rev Swan, of Trinity Methodist Church in Heywood, said: "It's about time we stopped now and took a look at what we are doing.


Christmas Day was borrowed by the Christians from the pagan festival to celebrate the birth of Christ. But we can give it back

Rev Martin Swan

"The Samaritans tell us that over the Christmas period more people attempt suicide than at any other time, more families break up, there are more arguments and people can't stand it.

"There's so much pressure to conform to this mystical day.

"Let's not pretend we are doing it for the birth of God's son. It's just a party.

"I don't want Christ's name being associated with so much harm and hardship to people.

"I'm not going to use Christmas as an excuse for a party. I'm not saying that we shouldn't have a party or enjoy ourselves or celebrate but let's not pretend we are doing it under the name of God, because I think that's a travesty."

Pagan festival

Rev Swan also criticised other churches across the country for jumping on the bandwagon.

"There are more and more church fairs in October these days.

"It's time to stop and say 'No'. What are we actually doing here? What are we saying? It's madness."

He added: "The Father Christmas aspect of Christmas has nothing to do with Christians.


I'm not up for cancelling it, but Christmas in three words is not Marks and Spencer

Manchester Diocese spokesman

"Christmas Day was borrowed by the Christians from the pagan festival to celebrate the birth of Christ. But we can give it back.

"Christmas is putting a lot of pressure on people and I'm saying, as a Christian festival, do we want to be associated with that?"

His remarks come as the Manchester diocese of the Church of England prepares for an advertising campaign designed to encourage more people back into church.

The 200,000 campaign involving 150 churches will be screened in the area from Monday and feature Olympic medallist Diane Modahl and Manchester City soccer manager Kevin Keegan.

A spokesman for Manchester diocese said: "Rather than be anti-Christmas I would rather say let's look at the positive side of it.

"I'm not up for cancelling it, but Christmas in three words is not Marks and Spencer."


Click here to go to Manchester
See also:

17 Nov 01 | England
Church plan to 'reclaim' Christmas
10 Dec 00 | UK
Christmas creche for men
30 Nov 00 | Middle East
Bethlehem cancels Christmas
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