My View, Tony Storey - Not a ‘whites only’ religion

Tony Storey OBE recieved the Freedom of the Borough at the Mansion House. Picture: Marie Caley D1078MC
Tony Storey OBE recieved the Freedom of the Borough at the Mansion House. Picture: Marie Caley D1078MC

The Prime Minister has upset some Humanists by stating we are a Christian country, albeit happy to accommodate other faiths.

Many of ‘our’ Christian faiths are of West Indian or African origin so it’s not a whites-only religion.

As a Christian Agnostic I suspect I’m in the mainstream, recognising that our culture is Christian even if I am not a regular church congregationalist, bar rites of passage.

As a child I attended the local Assembly Mission Sunday School in my Northumbrian small town.

Once I’d outgrown Sunday School I was not a church or chapel goer but eventually married in a CofE church and my children attended CofE Sunday School, the village CofE Primary School and Christmas carol concerts at the local church.

In my early career path I spent a year in South Africa at the University of Lesotto, Botswana and Swaziland where on Sundays I attended services at the Roman Catholic Church at the Lesotto campus at ‘Roma’, enraptured by the sound of African hymn singing.

As a headteacher at Hayfield School I was happy to have our annual carol concerts at Bawtry Church, include a hymn in our full school assembly, and invite local CofE, Roman Catholic and non-conformist ministers to take year group assembly.

Over the years I’ve enjoyed friendship with many devoted Christians of all faiths - Quakers, Roman Catholic, Methodist, CofE.

The Doncaster area is replete with our Christian heritage - fine cathedrals at York and Lincoln, minster churches (St George’s in Doncaster and Selby Abbey), the site of the medieval priory with its Our Lady RC shrine, now occupied by the Mansion House, John Wesley’s Methodist birthplace in Epworth, the Pilgrim Fathers’ connection via Austerfield and Scrooby, Roche Abbey near Maltby, the Victorian gothic Christ Church on Thorne Road, village churches and chapels, St Peter’s RC Church... a Christian culture time-warp which we can all appreciate in architecture, social history or faith terms.

Much of our charity, literature and music has a religious connotation.

If religion is to interest the young it has to morph with the times. As such, our established CofE church will have to accept female bishops, gay clergy and gay weddings.

Find time to experience a CofE service (whether high or low evangelical), a Quaker Friends meeting, a Roman Catholic Mass, a non-conformist chapel, a Jewish synagogue and non Christian faiths.

You can be a Humanist but appreciate our Christian ethics, traditions, heritage and symbolism. Tony Benn was a Christian socialist.

Of course Christianity has at times been less than peaceful, but then so has Marxism and Islam.

* Tony Storey, former headtacher of The Hayfield School