Published: 11:00 GMT Daylight Time - Friday 29 July 2011
Church in Wales investigates Bible burning by rector
Country/Region: United Kingdom, Europe
The Church in Wales has launched an investigation after a rector from Gwynedd, Wales, burnt pages from the Bible.
The Reverend Geraint ap Iorwerth of St Peter ad Vincula Church, Pennal, also cut up pages from the King James Bible to create an artwork. He claimed that this revealed a "cruel and vile God".
The Bishop of Bangor said,
Destroying parts of the Bible we don't like is disrespectful and will offend many people.
Mr ap Iorwerth revealed his controversial piece of art at an event to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. He explained that he had burnt the scraps of the cut-up passages at a public event because he had been making a statement as part of an art experiment.
I cut out all the nasty bits of that Bible, the language of which is being celebrated all over the place this year, because I don't think you can separate that language from the God it is representing.
I was gobsmacked no programmes or articles are representing the cruelty, revenge and hatred of this version of God.
The artwork, which also contrasts the language of the Bible and the festive greetings of Christmas cards, is mounted on a 9ft by 7ft board.
Mr ap Iorwerth wants to show it in a gallery and also promote it as an alternative Christmas card, because he thinks it will provoke thought and discussion.
He said it is the "most-popular" version of God as cruel that he takes exception to, whereas he thinks more attention should be paid to God's life-work and the view that "God is love".
People have told me they turned away from the real message of Jesus because of this God - that this version put lots of people off him as children. My version of God is Jesus, who was pure compassion and unconditional love. The King James Bible should be praised for its language but not for the God it represents - the two need to be separated.
He said he burnt the pages, which were the remaining scraps of those he cut up to make the display, as a "symbol of all the suffering in the world”.
Claiming “incredible” support from parishioners, he said he also planned to create a "wall of shame" at the church naming all of God's "cruel actions".
The Bishop of Bangor, Andy John, said destroying the Bible, or passages from it, would cause offence to many. He said,
I have therefore written to the Reverend Geraint ap Iorwerth and will be investigating the matter further.
There are parts of the Bible that we struggle to understand today because culturally our life is so far removed from that period in which the Bible was written. However, it is not given to us to pick and choose - sometimes the most challenging parts are those which we need to wrestle with most of all.
Operation Nehemiah fully endorses the Bishop of Bangor’s response to Mr ap Iorwerth, whose actions illustrate the debasing of the Bible’s authority in some parts of the Church today.
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Read BBC article Church in Wales inquiry after rector burns Bible pages