St John's Church

Mural outside St John's Church, Edinburgh, August 2007

This is the latest in a long series of murals to appear outside St John’s Church in Edinburgh. Positioned at the corner of Lothian Road and Princes Street, the church and its paintings are a memorable sight for anyone who has lived in, or visited the city.
I’m not quite sure what Ahmadinejad is doing in the picture. I think maybe he is walking towards the table that Rev Paisley and Mr Adams have already reached.
It is because of places like St John’s that I can never quite get behind the likes of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens as they denounce religion. These authors rail against the intolerance and the dogma of religion… but the people who run St John’s church seem to be of a different ilk. When they campaign, their objections are not related to heavenly crimes like blaspheme, but against more human ills such as poverty and injustice. And where some fundamentalists encourage a divisive mentality, St John’s is a centre for interfaith dialogue and multiculturalism. It has a Fair Trade café, a bookshop, and a hall for meetings. It is a place where civil society actually happens.

5 Replies to “St John's Church”

  1. Ummm, I think Dawkins’ objection is more on logical, philosophical and evidential grounds than because of the intolerance isn’t it?
    And I really hate to mention it, because that all sounds very nice, but what about the Crusades, the Balkans, the Troubles, 9/11 – didn’t all of them use religion as a great big excuse to kill people? Doesn’t that make religion a tool of war and murder? I’m just not sure that a nice cup of tea and a book shop makes it all ok…
    Still, good to make the point though.

  2. All very nice, but Paisley still thinks that Adams will burn in hell and vice versa. Religious toleration takes place despite religion, not because of it.

  3. At the moment the St John’s church hall is a venue for people running stalls on secular humanism, LGBT services and the Edinburgh inter-faith group (in fact, I think they have inter-faith prayers daily). Whatever philosophy allows for Adams and Paisley to burn in hell, it is not a part of the religion practiced at that particular church.

  4. Is the fact they are Christians relevant to their campaigns against poverty and injustice? Sounds like good peole doing good things. I like to think aethiests would be as capable of setting up a similar community project, though perhaps funding it would be more difficult.

  5. I noticed the mural on Monday. I think it’s Bush standing next to Ahmadinejad, and the message is clearly, look at all these enemies who’ve kissed and made up. Why can’t we all just get along?
    I agree with you that it is a very good thing that places such as St John’s exist, and make a contribution to civil society. But as bad as our current rulers are, I’m also glad that the people who run St John’s don’t run the country.

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