Wednesday, 29 October 2008

It's not pastoring, it's mugging

A report in a Wandsworth newspaper (see flagged up on the NSS site gives a taste of what could be coming here, if we don't stop it.
The Wandsworth council are paying evangelicals from the Ascension Trust £10K a year, topped up with another £5K from the police, to act as 'street pastors'. Locals are not impressed and want the money spent on proper community facilities instead.
It's not even as if they have relevant local experience - the cult started in Ghana and most of their trustees are from there. They're also so slow at filing their accounts and annual returns as a registered charity that in 2005 they were almost struck off the register. These days they're almost on time - though with an £800K income and a large chunk not spent there are still questions to be asked.
There have been some sly attempts at street pastoring over here too. Some Douglas ones were stopped dead in their tracks a few months back by a letter in the Examiner suggesting the police arrest them for aggressive begging. After all, if chasing folk with small kids and pensioners down the Prom threatening them with hellfire and eternal damnation isn't demanding money with menaces, what is?
But our Southern Baptists now even have their own bus, as well as a 'youth pastor' who pesters teenage kids in a secondary school to the point of apparently being supplied with their mobile numbers by a staff member (see previous postings for more). It beggars belief that, while our legitimate youth services have to badger small businesses for cash and materials because the education Department won't fund them, superstitious halfwits with the combined intellect of plankton can get something close to a six figure sum for the same pastor to drive around harassing kids, and even police back-up when they tell him to clear off.
Douglas Baptists and their ridiculous 'Machine' project also had a go a few years back - at least until strong local pressure closed down a 'community resource' apparently getting public funds on the basis of calling any kid who sat at a popular meeting point outside a member. Oh, and however hard they tried to dissuade the families of witnesses, that pastor getting nailed for underage sex on the premises didn't help.
Neither did using a speaker with a background in Loyalist paramilitarism, I suspect. 'Street smart' that wasn't, but also a shame the Manx police somehow forgot to check his background; they might have picked up on an appeal from Coleraine police about a mysterious fire in a family planning clinic and asked him more pertinent questions than the ones his local mates fed him at his 'drug seminar'.
There seems to be a ridiculously simple answer. If you really want to stop street crime in the Isle of Man, make sure our biblebashers stay home at nights.

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