News

Abbey doubles as a skateboard park

TODAY sees the climax of a skateboarding event which has sent a shudder down the spine of a number of Christian traditionalists.

Christian Skaters UK – yep, they really do exist – took over Malmesbury Abbey in Wiltshire for a three-day event which saw eighty bales of straw and 100 sheets of 8×4 plywood imported into the nave of the 12th century abbey.

A Christian skater goes through his paces

A Christian skater goes through his paces

The Telegraph was not amused:

This is no work of militant atheists, but of honest clergymen. The priest in charge, the Rev Neil Archer, says: ‘Anything we can do that nudges our young people to realise that they are a respected part of our community is helpful.’

Anything? A needle exchange at the font, an amusement arcade in the chancel, a barbecue in the transept? The abbey in the 19th century fell into such decay that donkeys and pigs were kept there.

Its recent guardians had felt superior to those who neglected it so. They cannot now. Fortunately the skate-park will be temporary. The church authorities, though, have made themselves a permanent laughing-stock.

One reader commented:

This is not some ordinary abbey, it is the resting place of Athelstan the Glorious, England’s first and greatest king. Though his bones may be gone, the tomb remains and so does his memory. How should the Reverend feel should the tomb be desecrated by some oiks on skateboards?

Said Rev Archer, who insists he isn’t “just some desperate middle-aged vicar trying to be trendy”:

I hope Malmesbury Abbey Skate says loud and clear to the young people of Malmesbury and North Wiltshire that God loves them, that the church welcomes them, and that they are an important part of our local community. I also hope, naturally, that the event helps young people see the church and the Christian faith in a different light.

Hat tip: Ben

40 responses to “Abbey doubles as a skateboard park”

  1. Bob says:

    The building is not, in itself, important. The early Christians met in houses, in the woods, even in caves (and often in secret). The church is not the building but the people.

  2. Stuart W says:

    Perhaps they took ‘Heaven is a halfpipe’ a little too literally.

  3. Wurble says:

    Why cant you keep it a secret now then instead of ramming it down peoples throats with your deluded street evangelism?

    On a scarier note, this vicar is almost talking sense ( except for the “god loves you” crap ) Thank goodness for the hard liners who will doubtless hound him until he starts talking only rubbish again!

  4. Bob says:

    Wurble: I do not “ram it down” people’s throats. I simply offer tracts to passers by. I don’t even stand in front of them but stand to one side so they don’t feel intimidated. If they refuse I don’t call out after them but acknowledge their freedom of choice. We don’t meet in secret in this country because we have freedom of worship. Surely you agree that Christians should have the right to meet without being in fear of the state Police. In some countries, however, Christians do have to meet in secret.

  5. Bob says:

    Here Barry, I have a suggestion – how about we do a deal? I will only put one post on per article if you don’t delete it. Can’t be fairer than that – can I?

  6. Sarah says:

    Keeping young people active and making them feel part of the community is always a good idea, regardless of other unfortunate factors such as their being Christians.

    Cathedral or not, however… if they are skating on somebody’s TOMB, it is extremely disrespectful.

    Imagine that it were a group of atheists skating on it? There would be outrage.

  7. valdemar says:

    Cathedrals used to be places where men, and even women, met to do business, chat and generally be part of a thriving community. Now they are museum pieces. Not a bad thing, to me. But a sensible Christian would be trying to make cathedrals interesting to more than brass rubbing enthusiasts. Typical of the Torygraph to take the Obadiah Slope viewpoint.

  8. I live less that 200 yds from the Abbey and I popped in yesterday to take a look. The setup is very organised, and the floor has been laid to prevent any damage. I believe its good for the community here in Malmesbury, where there is little for the kids to do in half-term normally. As long as people can still worship there if they want to, then personally, I don’t see any issue with it.

    Kevin Mullins, Malmesbury

  9. Stuart H. says:

    Typical that one of the stock objections is how ‘disrespectful’ it is for the living to enjoy themselves around graves.
    I’m never going to be buried in a churchyard, but, remembering my adolescence misadventures fondly, if I was I’d want the inscription ‘Have one on me’ on my gravestone.

  10. Stuart W says:

    Yes, I can see that lasting Bob, since most of your comments are responses to responses to your previous comment(s). See above, for example. You will only end up using your comment-quota to refer to past day’s forums.
    Why should Barry do deals with you at all as this is his privately-owned site?

  11. Alan C. says:

    #Bob
    Wurble: I do not “ram it down” people’s throats. I simply offer tracts to passers by.#

    It’s highly unlikely becuse of my location, but if you ever tried to “offer me a tract” I hope you’re a good runner.
    Why can’t you religious fucktards get it into your head? Religion is a private thing, to be kept to yourself.

  12. Barry Duke says:

    Bob, what on earth makes you think I would do a “deal” with you? Your juvenile outpourings are tantamount to spam. The only reason a few of your comments got by our filter over the last day or so is because you changed your email address. This has now been taken care of. Now go plaster your inane comments someplace else.

  13. David L says:

    Erm, Athelstan the Glorious was he son of King Edward the Elder, who was (you won’t believe this) King of England before Athelstan. Who would have thought?

  14. newspaniard says:

    I love cathedrals for their stunning architecture. I also love religious music, Tallis, Bach, Mozart to name but a few sources. Pity we can’t have the architecture and music without having to put up with blokes in frocks. No disrespect to any TV’s who may be reading.

  15. Bubblecar says:

    The sad thing is not so much the misuse of an important archaeological site, as the rather desperate Christian “sponsorship” of ordinary youthful play, in the “Christian Surfers” logo etc.

    It would be more interesting if they got a bit more daring and extended their brand-name marketing to other popular adolescent entertainments, such as masturbation. A “Christian Wankers” wankfest in some neglect old priory would get them a lot more media attention, and possibly a bit more sympathy 🙂

  16. Marcus says:

    Bible Bob
    Oh, what a nob!
    Your mind’s a mess
    And I would guess
    It’s all the fault of scripture.

    He thinks when he dies
    He’ll ascend to the skies
    And – don’t you know? –
    Might even get to blow
    Jesus’ celestial horn.

    The man’s clearly unhinged
    His brain has been singed
    By lurid tales of heaven and hell.
    And his messages all tell
    Of a mind made quite unwell by religion.

    Bible Bob
    Hear me sob
    Stay away from this blog
    Your posts serve only to clog
    An otherwise sensible forum!

  17. Sarah says:

    Fabulous poem. Well said!

  18. nullifidian says:

    Jesus’ celestial horn.

    So that’s what they call it these days! Certainly far more poetic than the rather pedestrian “saddlebacking” 😉

    Tremendous poem by the way!

  19. Alice says:

    I go to Malmesbury Abbey and helped to run this skate park, and I can assure you we did not skate over Athelstan’s tomb! The building was properly protected, we’ve just taken the park down and not a scratch is left. Hundreds of young people came along and had a great time during their half term, there was a great atmosphere and it was wonderful for our community, the vast majority of whom hold the Abbey in high regard and gave the park their full support. We hope that this event has helped break down the negative stereotype some people hold of skaters, and help the young people of our town feel valued and cared for.

  20. FrodoSaves says:

    Please, everyone!

    A moment of silence for Athelstan the Glorious!

  21. Mike says:

    Heh, i remember one year in Ely a funfair was set up next to the cathedral. A torrent of whinging about “disrespect” later and it had to be moved to one of the city’s few car parks, taking up at last 100 of the precious spaces (the city is allowed to expand with scummy, slum-like estates but is not allowed to build any new car parking because that would “encourage pollution”. Never mind the fact that there’s no public transport in the countryside so people have no choice but to drive)

  22. Max says:

    I attended the event with my two boys who had a fantastic time.

    I find the comments by many non christians amusing, they shout foul play about the use of a building they have no affinity to. The Abbey belongs to those people who worship there, to that christian community. They chose to open up their spirtual family home to the community using their resources.

    I would suggest to the joy stealers here, rather than knock and mock a group of loving individuals committed to making a positive difference to the young people of Malmesbury to stop and put the energy behind their filthy hate rants to something a little more useful.

    Guess what Christians skate, surf and do many of the things that non christians do. If they want to organise themselves into interest groups such as Christian Surfers or Skaters its because they want to spend time with like minded people with similar values not out of some desperate attempt to look fashionable and relevant.

    I look forward to Malmesbury Skate 2010.

    And as for the dead kings tomb…

    Don’t worry about it I’m sure he doesn’t mind.

  23. hen says:

    um, Max, I think you have the wrong forum for your comment. I doubt that most people here give a damn about people skate boarding the abbey (personally I’m all for it).

    I do however take issue with your statement about who the Abbey belongs to. It belongs to everyone who’s ancestors suffered at the hands of the church to make it a reality. That means pretty much everyone. Its for that reason that I have no problem with non-christians marrying in a church solely for the backdrop.

  24. Max says:

    The Abbey belongs to that congregation…

    The congregations tythes support the running and maintenance of the Abbey and help pay the wages of the Clergy there.

    Hen Said,

    ‘I do however take issue with your statement about who the Abbey belongs to. It belongs to everyone who’s ancestors suffered at the hands of the church to make it a reality. That means pretty much everyone.’

    Your junvenile attack on the Christian Church belongs in a teenage Marxist debating society. Lets remember where Hospitals and Universities came from and schooling and the welfare state. Human rights were on the Christian agenda long before the secularists even dreamt of helping their fellow human beings.

    Now go peck on another tired old worm Hen.

  25. newspaniard says:

    Yes, an’ don’t forget the roads, an’ writin’ an milk shakes an’ burnin’ at the stake an’ witch hunts (weren’t they fun) an’ molestin’ kids, although that was mostly reserved for the priests… yes we certainly have a lot to thank the church for.

  26. Max says:

    Lets remind ourselves of secular, atheist states of the Twentieth Century.

    The Eastern Block, encompassing many countries. Oppressed by a whole line up of oppresive atheist leaders including Stalin, Tito, Ceacescu.

    Tens of millions died at the hands of these atheist monsters, and all in living memory.

    Then there was Pol Pot and Combodia, China and its cultural revolution where tens of millions were mudered, not to mention the hundreds of millions of forced abortions.

    North Korea, Hitlers Germany, I could go on.

    And all of these regimes in living memory not hundreds of years ago.

    Guess what Atheism might work down your local pub over a packet of pork scratchings and a middle class pint of warm ale. But govern a country and it goes horribly wrong. History screams that.

  27. newspaniard says:

    Max: Wait, Wait, Wait! Stalin, Tito, Ceacescu and Hitler were all staunch catholics and used the church against the people. Talk about re-writing history. Which particular planet are you on!

  28. Max says:

    Stalin a Catholic?

    Is that why the church was banned. Hitler wasn’t a Catholic, not that catholics are christian anyway. Tito and Ceacescu may have been born Catholic, but you may find Eastern Orthodox actually, but they departed from their faith and became communists, who denigh God.

    Talk about rewriting history!

    You are delusional Spamiard.

  29. Ben C says:

    I Alerted The Freethinker to this issue, the kids in Malmesbury and the surrounding areas have been trying to get skate park built for years and the abbey targeted this.

    The Abbey is like ‘the stranger’ and the skate park they have built is like the bag of sweets in his hand beconning the children to come closer.

    I know someone who went to the event, He said young skaters who appeared to be on their own were the one’s who were approached by the ‘Christian Skaters (UK)’ the most.

    On a lighter note, he said the ‘Christian skaters (UK) were not good skaters and When the Vicar asked his audience ‘Who here is Christian?’,
    nobody put their hand up! 🙂

  30. newspaniard says:

    Max: Not delusional, just ill informed. I stand corrected, and apologise for my outburst which was a knee-jerk reaction to your abuse.

    Hitler was a christian who colluded with the vatican when he was exterminating jews and others.

    As for being delusional, I have no invisible friends who live in the sky surrounded by angels.

  31. hen says:

    Max, I made a simple statement about how the church used its power to effectively extort resources from a population. For that reason, the product of those resources morally belong to the population. Its a failure of reason to resort to discussing “failures of secularism” in rebuttal. Please, if you want to counter the point, counter the point. btw, many people have written very well on the issue of communism and religion and under what guise the killing was done; it most certainly was not their atheism or secularism.

    There is no such thing as the christian agenda. Like all large organisations, it rapidly becomes subservient to the self-serving whims of the powerful within that organisation. Ultimately, its just people deciding, and they don’t really use the christian texts to do this. The bible is abhorrent in its views. So what basis do they make moral decisions? the same factors everyone who isn’t a christian uses. Its no coincidence that almost every culture in the world share the same basic set of ethics (subject to social conditioning).

  32. Max says:

    Ben said,

    “young skaters who appeared to be on their own were the one’s who were approached by the ‘Christian Skaters (UK)’ the most.”

    I was at the event, for the Thursday and the Friday. I do not recall any ‘Christian Skaters’ evangelising solitary children. You infer that vulnerable children were being targeted by predatory evangelists. For one who was not there and basing your ill founded opinions solely on anecdotal evidence your are waw out in leftfield.

    Any resepctable balanced person would not have a problem with a group of people who have an open and declared christian faith providing a much needed activity and facility for young people during a school holdiay. In fact a positive legacy of this event and the press and publicity it created may well have prompted/shamed the Local Authority into providing a skate facility to Malmesbury that they have been promising for fifteen years.

    As for the Quality of skaters at the event, what I saw was skaters of every ability and competence from beginners to expert. Now if your friend gets off by knocking and running down children who were having a good time skating saying they were not that good I can only imagine what a twisted and hate filled heart that your friend must have.

    Very sad.

    And Spamiard, Christians are to be judged by their fruits. Hitler obviously stamped all over many of the ten commandments not to mention committing suicide. I think that when a person blatantly does not live by the creed and commandments of the bible they are in fact not christian. A little like an atheist praying to God, he may call himself and atheist but obviously isn’t. Christians live by the teachings of Jesus, who clearly called us to Love our Neighbour, to love our enemy, not to kill, steal, lie, etc. If a person chooses not to follow Christ’s teachings then quite obviously they are not Christian. Not rational person would claim Hitler followed Christ’s teachings. So Hitler as Tito, Stalin, or who ever you claim were christians were obviously not.

    I find the premis of this whole site ‘Free thinker’ a nonsense. We are all captive to our experience and culture. To claim that any of you can think freely, objectively with out the influence of culture, experience, or predjudice is naive at best.

  33. newspaniard says:

    Max: You’re Bob, really, aren’t you. You blew yourself out the water with the last rant. To paraphrase ‘…Christians who don’t follow all the rules are not “true” christians…’ They are…? I’m finished with this thread, I foolishly allowed myself to be drawn in by a fundie. Bye, Bob.

  34. hen says:

    Max, the statement: “To claim that any of you can think freely, objectively with out the influence of culture, experience, or predjudice is naive at best.” is moronic. It’s like saying: “To claim that any of you can eat freely, objectively with out the influence of your biology, food availability, or taste is naive at best.”. We are all aware of our influences. This, to some extent, is what makes us able to think freely.

    Free doesn’t mean “without constraint”, it means “without assuming to know the answer”. Generally, this means drawing on a well established technique known as “the scientific method” (since physical truths, i.e. impinges on our reality, are ultimately all we can find out about). Its a typical example of anti-science to assume that the truth is just a function of our culture and prejudices. Reality is what is it, regardless of what your holy book tells you.

  35. Max says:

    Hen,

    Using your faith in science, can you prove that God doesn’t exist?

    Because my understanding of science is nothing is ruled out until evidence provides proof.

    Wheres your proof?

  36. Ben C says:

    Max,

    You say ‘can you prove that God doesn’t exist? Because my understanding of science is nothing is ruled out until evidence provides proof’.

    Well the burden of proof lie’s with you (Christians).

    Talking snakes
    A Giant boat can house 2 (or 7) of every animal
    Uncicorns (Yes unicorns!)
    Talking Donkey
    Giants

    These all appear in the Bible (‘the supposed word of God’) and I’m pretty sure these have all been ruled out by science.

    Don’t you agree?

  37. Ben C says:

    Max,
    Also you said this to me:
    ‘I was at the event, for the Thursday and the Friday. I do not recall any ‘Christian Skaters’ evangelising solitary children. You infer that vulnerable children were being targeted by predatory evangelists. For one who was not there and basing your ill founded opinions solely on anecdotal evidence your are waw out in leftfield’

    But isn’t the whole Christian religion based on anecdotal evidence!
    Unless you were actually there 2000 years ago?

    Athank you!

  38. Max says:

    Ben Ben,

    From a scientific perspective the bible gives us more information about culture, religion, architecture, science, astrology, military weapons, dress traditions, diet, alcohol than any other book in history.

    The existence of Julius Ceasar is never questioned and there is more existing historical documents written about Jesus from that time.

    People forget where they learned about Ceasar from. Shakespeare, Hollywood, fiction.

    AS for Malmesbury, you didn’t address the point?

    Why the vindictive attitude toward a group of well meaning people who happen to be christian serving the young people of Malmesbury?

    I would suggest from the growing predjudice by atheists. You accuse us of being bigoted but your zealous predjudice and intolerance against christians is unquestionable.

  39. Ben C says:

    Max,

    You say ‘From a scientific perspective the bible gives us more information about culture, religion, architecture, science, astrology, military weapons, dress traditions, diet, alcohol than any other book in history’

    This is not a scientific perspective but a Christian one and very fundamental one at that. i’m sure a lot of Christians (and the rest of the world) would Disagree that the Bible gives more info on those subjects than any other book in history.
    (by the way Astrology has no scientific basis)

    As for the well meaning people of Malmesbury I have nothing against.
    I am merely suggesting that the Church should rely on people to willingly go to church to for worship and not to coax young impressionable people in with a skate park

    How would you feel if the skate park had been built in a Mosque where the children would skate through the day with intervals of worship?

  40. hen says:

    I would suggest from the growing predjudice by atheists. You accuse us of being bigoted but your zealous predjudice and intolerance against christians is unquestionable.

    You yourself are guilty of massive prejudice. Why do you presume to put ideas in my mouth. I have not accused you of anything. The only thing you can infer about me is what I have put in the limited number of posts I have made. True, I am an atheist. The most certainly does not mean I hold a set of views common to all atheists. I’m sure you could have worked that out from the “Freethinker” title if you hadn’t chosen to dismiss it. Atheist is a negative. It means “without god”, nothing more.

    Now, regarding my views on religion. I think the ideas should be subject to the same scrutiny as all ideas. So far, I have heard nothing that merits me taking any of them seriously except for the enormous influence they have on the public sphere. For that reason, I am going to argue against its influence until the point that religious groups either choose not to, or don’t have the capability of, influencing my life based on their archaic and abhorrent holy books.