‘The Evil One’ shows his hand in Cumbria with the opening of a Carlisle nightclub called The Church

THERE”S a big ol’ cross mounted above the main entrance, and The Church’s windows depict a DJ looking like Jesus with his arms outstretched.

The club is the brainchild of  entrepreneur Ben Read, 29, who’s given a makeover to the former Party Party nightspot in Botchergate, Carlisle – and right now he’s drawing flak from various religious nutjobs who find the whole thing in the worst possible taste. It’s even been described as the “work of The Evil One”.

According to this report, Captain Mark Sellers, who leads Carlisle’s branch of the Salvation Army, said the nightclub’s use of the cross belittled people’s faith.

Perhaps we can’t stop them from doing this, but it does cause offence. We don’t see Jesus as something in our lives that is crude or shallow. He’s obviously a very significant figure in our lives and to see the symbol of the cross demeaned in this way is just wrong.

He added:

People’s religious sensibilities should be protected …. Self-sacrifice and the symbol of the cross is central to all Christians. It’s something we are all united around. In the minds of all Christian people, it stands for the most significant moment in all history. But to have the cross used in this way, over a nightclub, belittles it in so many ways.

Catholic priest Father Michael Docherty, who preaches at both St Margaret Mary’s in Upperby and Christ the King Church in Harraby, said he was saddened by the nightclub’s use of the cross.

We need to be sensitive to religious symbolism, particularly in the age in which we now live. This image has lots of symbolic value, and real meaning for people. If you look at war graves, you see row upon row of crosses, each representing a human life.

We can also talk about the sacrifice of the cross – a sacrifice bringing about the salvation of the world. Using the cross in this way corrupts that meaning. Something that should be a symbol of good and virtue is corrupted for material gain. But it doesn’t provoke anger in me, it provokes sadness.

Fellow priest Father Jim Allen, of St Bede’s Church in Wigton Road, Carlisle, said:

Usually, the Evil One does things behind closed doors but it seems that he’s getting more daring and is no longer hiding.

And Carlisle city councillor Willie Whalen, a lifelong practising Catholic, described both the club’s name and the use of the cross over its door as “an insult”.

If it was any faith other than a Christian one there’d be hell on. Society has obviously gone too far towards the extremes of secularism but enough is enough. I find what this club has done very offensive. It’s a nightclub, and we all know what reputation nightclubs have. A church is a place for worship and prayer.

He blathered on:

People talk about giving people rights and freedoms but the people who take up those rights should realise that they have to respect other people’s point of view and their religion. If they don’t then it becomes a false liberty.

What’s happening here shows disrespect to Christian and Catholic views. I intend to pray that they see sense and remove the cross. I’ve spoken to pensioners locally who are very annoyed about it.

Ben Read was unrepentant.

Ben Read

Ben Read

If the name and cross have offended people I apologise but that was never my intention. I have to say that the cross has gone past being a piece of religious iconography. It’s fashionable and it’s a trendy thing to wear.

Yes, business is about making a profit but the church is seen in many parts of the world as a place where people can congregate and have a good time. It doesn’t have to be associated with just religion.

And he reckoned he could have ruffled the feathers of the faithful even more.

If we’d wanted to offend people we could have gone to serious extremes. We could have had all the bar staff in nuns’ outfits or vicar collars or we could have tried to have weddings done in the place but we respect people’s religious beliefs. I understand what these people are saying but there are many bars in the world called The Church. We’re not the first, but you can’t please everyone. We’ve been trading five weeks now and people absolutely love it here.

Asked why he chose the name The Church, Read, who also runs The Office nightspot in Botchergate, said:

Because it’s cool – it’s quirky. I don’t disrespect these people but we live in 2013.

A city council spokeswoman said:

Our planning section have advised the owners of The Church that consent is required for the illuminated cross on display outside the building. A retrospective application is expected to be submitted soon.

A Cumberland News reader called Max, commenting on the story, absolutely agreed that the cross should be taken down:

As an antitheist I found this particularly offensive. I see the cross as a symbol of oppression, death, manipulation, suffering, hypocrisy and weakness. It’s perhaps the most horrible symbol in my eyes, and it’s possibly the largest one in town now. The owner’s points about the church being a place to go make sense, but at the same time it’s validating Christian practises and should be removed.

Hat tip: Ivan

39 responses to “‘The Evil One’ shows his hand in Cumbria with the opening of a Carlisle nightclub called The Church”

  1. Brummie says:

    “Peoples religious sensibilities should be protected”
    That’s like saying people’s football sensibilities should be protected, or stamp collecting sensibilities.
    Nothing is sacred. Time to rid our language of such words as sacred, blasphemy and holy.

  2. Angela_K says:

    I find the christian symbol offensive wherever it appears because of what it represents and suggest that here it could be seen to actually promote christianinsanity. The fact this guy has used the cross is probably because he knows it will get his club free publicity.
    Isn’t the cross a Scarecrow’s exoskeleton anyway?

  3. Lazy Susan says:

    How times have changed. I am fed up with this sort of thing – stand up comics making fun of religion is another one – because it’s like shooting fish in a barrel, and it gets boring. Religion’s an easy target these days; it doesn’t take much art or wit to point out what a load of crap it is.

    I suppose the existence of The Church bar shows that the symbols still have some power, so they still need to be de-powered. I look forward to the time when there are no crosses or crescents anywhere, except those kept for historical reasons, like Dachau concentration camp.

  4. Ivan says:

    Someone should ask these people what they think about Heaven.

  5. barriejohn says:

    There was a similar furore some years ago in Swindon (drummed up by the scurrilous local rag The Advertiser), when a night club called “The Mission” opened in a disused brewery in Old Town. They were “accused” of using a cross as their logo, though the management were insistent that it was a sword. Who cares? It was a business, and how on earth does any of this impact on people’s faith? They should have told the god-botherers to go fuck themselves!

  6. barriejohn says:

    I am going to adopt the cockerel as the symbol of my new religion, and sue the present brewers of Courage beers for blasphemy!

    The cross predates Christianity by millennia, and takes many different forms (see chart in link). In any case, the type of cross used in the times of “Jesus” may well have been T-shaped, as any fule kno.

  7. barriejohn says:

    Church attendance in this country is now declining at a slower rate, and the CofE is putting a positive spin on these encouraging figures (for us) by talking about “growing stability” and focusing on increasing numbers attending at Christmas – doh!

  8. Lazy Susan says:

    BarrieJohn – It’s odd that although church attendance is evidently so important for churches like CoE, and yet they never ask themselves why it is so important to them. After all, attendance is not going to affect whether the faith is true or not.

  9. Equality Jack says:

    “…but at the same time it’s validating Christian practises and should be removed.”
    -Nothing, NOTHING can ever validate Christian beliefs. They are already proven to be false.
    Maybe that speaker meant a different word. Otherwise, he’s a clueless git.

  10. Broga says:

    Carlisle has form on this. I think some religious nutter thought the floods which swept through much of the town some years ago were because of some satanic words on a large rock.

    Does the ruler of the universe need to be protected from someone sticking up a cross? If it chose it could just strike down the offender.

  11. barriejohn says:

    Lazy Susan: They want to exaggerate their influence in society. Don’t forget that they have members in the Lords who will be voting shortly on the Equal Marriage bill!

  12. Lori F says:

    “the symbol of the cross is central to all Christians. It’s something we are all united around. In the minds of all Christian people, it stands for the most significant moment in all history. But to have the cross used in this way, over a nightclub, belittles it in so many ways.”

    but I thought the cross was secular. It’s a universal symbol. or at least that’s what some Christians say when they want to put them up in public places. hyprocrites.

  13. barriejohn says:

    Broga: I don’t remember that, but there was this ridiculous tirade from the Bishop of Carlisle (amongst others) a few years back.

    Showing, once again, how modern and “relevant” the church is in society!

  14. barriejohn says:

    Broga: It has just occurred to me that being old and rather out-of-touch nowadays, God might have seen the word Cockermouth and got the wrong impression. You never know, but I’m glad that we live at the highest point in this area!

  15. The Woggler says:

    barriejohn – yet according to this the decline in religion in this country is bottoming out.
    There seems to be a danger that the church could become relevant again.

  16. Ian says:

    In Wakefield the Yorkshire Bank closed one of its two town centre branches and those who purchased it turned it into a night club called ‘Religion’.

    The Anglican diocese went ape, the Methodists muttered, the Catholics were apoplectic, the Unitarians tutted and the Salvation Army played on.

    But the Directors who were apparently on the premises most nights were caught drunk too often and the Police applied to the Licensing Justices for the licence to be revoked as they were not ‘fit and proper’ people. The magistrates agreed and the club has been closed ever since.

    I don’t know whether it was ‘the evil one’ or ‘God – the one who permits the ‘evil one’ to have his way or, Fungus the Bogeyman but they wuz brung down by the fiery spirit. Shame. I hope this new bunch do betterer.

  17. charlie says:

    And here I thought the cross was a torture device. If Jesus actually exists, I doubt he would be pleased to see these nut-ball xtians using it as a symbol of worship. He supposedly died on the damn thing, why in hell would he wanted to be reminded of that?
    Oh well, back to my corner.

  18. MalJ says:

    Just got back from the JDW across the road from The Church in Carisle…. Nobody in there expressed any opinion when the cross went up …except a mild amusement. The fact that it took 5 weeks before any “anti” came to light makes me think it was the local press () who went and stirred it up.

    I was expecting the “I’m Offended” within days ..
    Nobody in Carlisle really gives a “monkeys” about it.

    (Think I may have got the href wrong)

  19. Broga says:

    barriejohn: Well done, bj, that is what I had in mind. However, there are also satanic words involved somewhere. Until a few years ago I used to visit a relative of whom I was very fond in Carlisle. And I recall, vaguely, something about a curse which was carved on a large rock. Some people wanted this removed – something about a gypsy curse – as it was bringing bad luck to the town.

    I last visited Carlisle last year when I went to a funeral. I was sorry to see how the place had deteriorated. The Botchergate, once a busy and varied shopping centre, has been taken over by betting shops, clubs and pubs. On Sunday morning the Botchergate was ankle deep in plastic containers, empty alcohol tins and a variety of rubbish thrown away during the previous nights drunken revels.

  20. T says:

    Everywhere I look I see christian symbolism. I find that offensive. Every news website carries stories daily of murder, mayhem and religiously inspired hatred and division. The pious should dwell on this.

  21. barriejohn says:

    Woggler: I read that this morning, and linked to the Huffington Post report (above). As you say, all that is happening is that the decline in church attendance is levelling off – it’s not increasing!

  22. Matt Westwood says:

    He should have said:
    “If the name and cross have offended people I apologise but that was never my intention. No, I’m lying. I’m delightedly ripping piss out of sad little mental cases with the reasoning capability of a fucking amoeba.”

  23. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: That’s it. I remember lots of excitement when I visited about the curse. Although, that excitement seemed confined to a fairly narrow group who managed to generate lots of publicity. It didn’t extend to my friend or his family and I didn’t hear much mention of it in general conversation.

    The reivers did seem a bloodthirsty bunch although one of my good friends in Carlisle called Armstrong seemed rather proud of them. He told me Armstrong was a reiver name. My friend loaned me a book about them when we stopped off with him on our way to Islay on holiday. I think it was by George Macdonald Fraser of Flashman fame. All this is quite a few years ago and leaves me with happy memories. Thanks for using your usual exemplary skills in tracking this down.

  24. AgentCormac says:

    If you look at war graves, you see row upon row of crosses, each representing a human life.

    No! No! No! You see row upon row of graves which the xtian brand of religion has decided it will usurp as its own. Regardless of whether the fallen actually agreed with or abided by the tenets of xtinsanity. It’s yet another revolting example of the arrogance of a church which automatically assumes that everyone and anyone can, simply as a result of their culture or nationality, must be one of their own.

    Unless otherwise specified, human life is human life. Not xtian life. Hands off, you bastards!

  25. Stonyground says:

    Sorry to be OT but another of my favorite bloggers is having a pop at the new ABofC. I’m sure that there are some here who would enjoy adding to the discussion. … ment-19861

  26. Canada Dave says:

    @ BarrieJohn
    From the 2007 article you reference re flooding.
    “The floods that have devastated swathes of the country are God’s judgment on the immorality and greed of modern society, according to senior Church of England bishops.”

    It is true in fact that these bishops have uncontested seats in the House of Lords? ….and vote on critical issues that require sober judgement?……and you people put up with the bullshit about a gods wrath?….

    I thought the USA was nuts….they got a ways to go to catch Britain.
    The US fundamentalist right wants to have religious nuts in government ….you already have them.

  27. barriejohn says:

    Canada Dave: This was The Right Raving Graham Dow, notorious evangelical Bishop of Carlisle (now retired). Here is his biography:

    According to an article in The Times, Dow is a specialist in exorcism, explaining in a leaflet entitled Explaining Deliverance that “There is a view that both oral and anal sexual practice is liable to allow entry to spirits”.

    And yes, some of them will be voting on the same-sex marriage bill, amongst other things, because that’s how democracy works in the “Mother of Parliaments”!

  28. L.Long says:

    Commandment #2. You shall not make yourself a graven image, nor any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

    So all these xtians with hurt feelings are not only silly but VIOLATING their own rules. So they are adoring a sacred idol!!!! What absolute BLASPHEMY!!!! I think they should all be punished by their own rules —- Let’s stone them!!!

  29. JohnMWhite says:

    These people are clearly just jealous of this nightclub’s success, because they know that if the Pope owned a disco, no one would come.

  30. Robster says:

    Well, at least the nightclub hasn’t got a dead magic jew dangling off their cross. If it’s so offensive to the believers and I’m guessing their all “powerful” god fantasy, why doesn’t this horrible god thing actually, for the very first time ever, do something about the “problem”? One of the offended godbots said “We can also talk about the sacrifice of the cross – a sacrifice bringing about the salvation of the world”. It’s said that the baby jesus, god and the strange ghost thing are the one and the same. If that’s the case, baby jesus would have been aware that his “death” was nothng more than a show and that he’d be back. That’s not a sacrifice, that’s a con, without any evidence, a silly fraud that seems to suck ’em in in ever decreasing numbers.

  31. Darric says:

    Maybe they should all watch this. Starting at 3:40.

    So what, be offended. Nothing happens!

  32. Mr Cornelius says:

    The opposite has happened here in Manchester. A local pub near my office on Oxford Road has been bought out and turned into a coffee house. A Starbucks would be bad enough, but this is a Christian coffee house:

    I pass this place every day on my way to work, and my suspicions about it were first aroused by the abrupt change into a temperance bar and use of the anchor symbolism (and just to hammer the point home, the anchor logo they use is unsubtly crucifix-like). Perhaps I should get lagered up and protest in an outraged manner outside it? (It’s some consolation to note that I’ve never actually seen anyone in it.)

    To make matters worse we also have a Mormon meeting house under construction nearby too. I eagerly await the day I step outside and am waylaid every 10 metres by the simpering dolts.

  33. Marky Mark says:

    (Fellow priest Father Jim Allen, of St Bede’s Church in Wigton Road, Carlisle, said: “Usually, the Evil One does things behind closed doors” )

    …yes the Evil One does works this way. Like raping altar boys behind closed church doors after everybody leaves.

  34. Matt Westwood says:

    Mr C: Go and get some offensively anti-religious tattoos and bear them prominently in the vicinity. You never know you might get some of them to die of apoplexy.