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Last Updated: Friday, 12 December, 2003, 13:22 GMT
Library ban for church poster
Vicar giving sermon
Church members hope the publicity will boost attendance anyway
A church has been banned from advertising its Christmas services at a library after a council ruled it could not promote its "religious preference".

The council has now said it may have to rethink its policy, which it said has been in place for several years.

Members of All Saints' Church in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire wanted to display a poster listing times of services in the town's main library.

But choir member Bridget Adams was told it was against Buckinghamshire County Council policy which prohibits displaying notices on behalf of any religious, political or sexual preference groups.

She said: "A lot of people come to carol services who don't normally come to church so the library seemed an obvious place."

She said she gave the poster to a library assistant last month but later realised it had never been put up.

I thought it's rather sad to say 'Don't have any of them at all' rather than 'Let's put all of them up'
Bridget Adams, church member
"I then went back with a replacement and it was then that I was invited in to talk to the chief librarian," she said.

"She was extremely nice and just explained that they did have this library policy in Buckinghamshire that they didn't take anything religious, political or that sort of thing.

"When I went away I thought it's rather sad to say 'Don't have any of them at all' rather than 'Let's put all of them up'."

Councillor Margaret Dewar, who is responsible for libraries, said: "I know it sounds a bit 'Bah, humbug' but as a council we know that not all religions represented in Buckinghamshire celebrate Christmas - with or without carol services.

National publicity

"My understanding is that this policy was clearly explained to, and accepted by, this particular church representative at the time."

However she added: "If this issue raises strong concerns from a majority of religious groups, I will be happy to look at the policy again."

Mrs Adams said she hoped the council would reconsider although the church is now expected to be packed for its remaining festive services.

Youth worker Sarah Hamilton, a member of the parish church council, said: "We had hoped to get publicity in the library and instead we have got publicity across the country.

"In a way I hope it won't just give publicity to us, most places will have similar events, it might actually remind people what Christmas is all about rather than just Christmas trees and lights."

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