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Outrage as shopping centre blocks plans for a nativity scene

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Affray in a manger! Fury as traditional Nativity display is banned by 'Grinch-like' shopping centre bosses over fears it would upset non-Christian visitors

  • The Thistles shopping centre in Stirling has banned a nativity scene this year
  • Church leaders in the medieval city are outraged by the centre's decision 
  • Management have been promoting a Christmas market inside the shopping mall
  • The shopping centre claimed they were politically and religiously neutral
  • Has this decision ruined your Xmas? Contact darren.boyle@mailonline.co.uk 

By Cameron Ward For The Scottish Daily Mail

Published: 04:50 EST, 6 December 2018 | Updated: 05:14 EST, 6 December 2018

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It is a scene that is at the very heart of what Christmas means.

But a Nativity display has been banned by shopping centre bosses for fear of offending non-Christian shoppers.

Church leaders yesterday condemned the ‘Grinch-like’ Thistles shopping centre in Stirling for refusing to allow a Nativity scene this Christmas.

The Thistles Shopping centre in Stirling is at the centre of a storm over a decision to block the erection of a nativity scene at the popular mall 
The Thistles Shopping centre in Stirling is at the centre of a storm over a decision to block the erection of a nativity scene at the popular mall 

The Thistles Shopping centre in Stirling is at the centre of a storm over a decision to block the erection of a nativity scene at the popular mall 

Shoppers at the Thistles shopping centre in Stirling have expressed outrage over a decision to stop church leaders from erecting a nativity scene at the popular mall
Shoppers at the Thistles shopping centre in Stirling have expressed outrage over a decision to stop church leaders from erecting a nativity scene at the popular mall

Shoppers at the Thistles shopping centre in Stirling have expressed outrage over a decision to stop church leaders from erecting a nativity scene at the popular mall

Outraged shoppers raised the matter with their local MP Stephen Kerr, MP for Stirling 
Outraged shoppers raised the matter with their local MP Stephen Kerr, MP for Stirling 

Outraged shoppers raised the matter with their local MP Stephen Kerr, MP for Stirling 

Shopping centre bosses flatly declined a request for the traditional display, saying customers did not want to be ‘subjected to’ individual organisations’ beliefs.

They refused to budge when an MP urged them to reconsider their ban on ‘affiliating with any specific religions or beliefs’.

Centre management were also accused of double standards by promoting a Christmas Market in the city centre mall.

Last night the Catholic Church in Scotland urged the centre to abandon its ‘Grinch-like’ stance, while the Church of Scotland said it was ‘a sad day for all of us’.

Members of the Legion of Mary Catholic association complained on Facebook about the ban.

Their post said: ‘Despite heavily promoting Christmas for commercial gain’, the centre managers ‘pride themselves on religious neutrality so won’t allow a Nativity to be present any longer.’

Religious leaders in Stirling have expressed their disappointment at the lack of a nativity scene
Religious leaders in Stirling have expressed their disappointment at the lack of a nativity scene

Religious leaders in Stirling have expressed their disappointment at the lack of a nativity scene

Shoppers have expressed their disappointment on the shopping centre's Facebook page
Shoppers have expressed their disappointment on the shopping centre's Facebook page

Shoppers have expressed their disappointment on the shopping centre's Facebook page

It continued: ‘While I understand that no one wants religious or political evangelists in a shopping centre, the request was simply to have a Nativity, which would be manned and anyone approaching could ask about it.’

A member of the association, Margaret Patterson, complained to Stirling MP, Stephen Kerr, who wrote to the Thistles centre managers asking them to reconsider.

They replied: ‘Thistles prides itself on being religiously and politically neutral in its behaviour within the local community.

‘With this in mind we do not feel it would be right to host this type of promotion in a shopping centre.’

Mr Kerr said: ‘Surely there is room for a simple display that may be of interest to people. I would hope that an application from any faith group would be considered on its own merits.’

A spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh said: ‘It seems Grinch-like for the Thistles shopping centre to ban the Christmas crib and, in the true spirit of Christmas, we would ask them to reconsider.’

A spokesman for the Church of Scotland said: ‘We find it very disappointing that the true meaning of Christmas has been completely lost here. When a shopping centre can focus purely on commercialism to the exclusion of the reason for the celebration of Christmas it is a sad day for all of us.’

A spokesman for the Thistles said: ‘While we are sympathetic with the Legion of Mary’s request to have a Nativity scene, we are unable to accommodate it.

‘As is common among shopping centres, our policy is to support our local community in celebrating the festive season without affiliating with any specific religions or beliefs.’

 

 

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