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Friday, 18 May, 2001, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK

Paisley brands line dancing 'sinful'

The leader of the DUP, Ian Paisley, has said line dancing is sinful.

Mr Paisley, who is also the leader of the fundamentalist Free Presbyterian Church in Northern Ireland, issued a statement to be read to members of his congregation telling them it "clearly caters to the lust of the flesh".

It continued: "The church regards the country and western style of dance "as sinful as any other type of dancing, with its sexual gestures and touching".

Although Mr Paisley has not issued his remarks to voters at large a political opponent was quick to accuse him of being "out of line" and "out of touch" over them.

Cecil Walker, who is standing for the Ulster Unionist Party in North Belfast, said: "I was bemused when I heard the DUP leader's comments on line-dancing.

"What offends him so much about people enjoying themselves?"

The statement has angered many line dancers.

"I think it is quite ludicrous. Dancing is a different form of socialisation," Rose Kilmartin, a line dancing enthusiast from Belfast, told BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme.

Gift from God

"What is the difference between dancing and singing or anything in which people enjoy themselves through music?"

Ms Kilmartin said that line dancers were exercising their gift from God and that line dancing did not fit a sensual description.

" Sensual is not a word you would attribute to country music "
Rose Kilmartin

"Line dancing's very name suggests that everyone is dancing in a line.

"As far as it being sensual, that is not a word you would attribute to country music."

However, Reverend David McIlveen of the Free Presbyterian Church's Morals and Standards Committee said dancing was not in line with the church's teaching.

"Well as far as we are concerned, we feel that dancing in any shape or form is incompatible with a Christian profession," said Mr McIlveen.

"We were mainly concerned about couples coming to our Church to get married who bring a very strong and a very sincere testimony of their saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

"They could well go to a reception which included some form of dancing as part of that reception.

"We felt as a church that this was inconsistent with regard to their own personal testimony which was confirmed and spoken about in the Church," he added.

Mr McIlveen said he had only seen line dancing once on a video.

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