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Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2006, 17:05 GMT
Church ban for Father Christmas
St Peter and St Paul's church, courtesy of Freefoto.com
Dignitaries and community groups attended the civic service
A vicar in Dorset has defended his decision to ban Father Christmas from a church carol service.

Reverend Tim Storey, who was leading the service at St Peter and St Paul's Church in Blandford, asked Henry Cuff to remove a costume he was wearing.

Mr Cuff, a member of the town's Lions Club, refused to take the Santa outfit off and left the building.

Mr Storey said his job was to place the birth of Jesus Christ at the heart of Christmas celebrations.

In a website statement, he said: "I do not believe that Father Christmas should be a part of church services any more than Santa's grotto should have a manger and a baby Jesus present.

"Keeping the two distinct is important for both."

Other church ministers in the area have defended Mr Storey's comments.

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