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Vicars should grow beards to appeal to Muslims says Bishop of London...I give up

Tom Winnifrith
Saturday 23 January 2016

And you wonder why no-one takes the Church of England seriously any more? You despair at the sad decline of Western civilization? Prepare for just another sad footnote in that decline.

Writing in The Church Times, the Right Reverend Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, suggests vicars growing beards could help the Church of England reach out to parishioners from Asia where wearing a beard could mark a man out as holy. He flagged up two priests in East London - the Rev. Adam Atkinson, Vicar of St Peter's church in Bethnal Green, and Rev. Cris Rogers of All Hallows Bow - who have grown bushy beards.

Chartres is himself a bearded fellow and if you did not think this man was already crackers he goes on to describe David Beckham - another beard wearer - as the 'nearest thing to a secular saint' - who has 'stimulated countless imitators'. Whatever...I suppose putting up with Posh Spice for all these years is pretty saintly.

One of the bearded vicars, the Reverend Atkinson told the Daily Telegraph that he found having a beard had helped provide a connection with many people in his parish, around 85% of whom are Muslim and that he was persuaded to grow a beard by the staff at his local pub, the Hound Dog Barbers on Hackney Road. According to facebook, Hound Dog Barbers is in fact a rather camp "Spa, beauty & personal care" place on the Hackney Rd but presumably the Rev Atkinson turns rose water cologne into wine when he visits.

Every time some lunatic like Chartres spouts such piffle one imagines that exactly no muslims convert to the Cof E but, I suspect, an awful lot burst out laughing. Meanwhile those of us who grew up with the CofE just raise our eyes to the heavens and once again reflect upon an institution that has completely lost its way.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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