LEICESTER, United Kingdom – A call for church bells to ring out when Britain leaves the European Union has been attacked by a Church of England bishop as being “tacky.”
The country is set to officially exit the EU on Jan. 31, after a contentious political process following the results of the 2016 Brexit referendum, where 51.89 percent of voters chose to leave the continental bloc.
The pro-Brexit website Leave.EU made the appeal on Jan. 10, comparing leaving the EU to winning a war.
“On May 8 1945, bells rang out across the country to mark the end of our long and brutal experience of war on the European mainland. As Berlin surrendered to the triumphant Allied forces, people across Britain celebrated a new dawn and churches across the land marked the occasion with a victory peal,” the statement said. “On January 31, our nation leaves the European Union. On Saturday morning, February 1, the sun will come up on an independent United Kingdom for the first time in almost five decades.”
However, a leading bishop of the Church of England has put a damper on the plan.
“Two thirds of the population were never interested in [Brexit] in the first place so it’s not really something that brings people together, it’s something that pulls people apart and we really need to move on,” said Bishop Alan Wilson of Buckingham on BBC Radio 4’s Today program.
“I think to express a political point of view about it, sort of instrumentalizing church bells to do it, is pretty tacky actually,” he continued.
The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers has also frowned on the proposal.
“There are historical moments for which bells have been rung – end of world wars for example. In 2018 the Central Council worked with the government on a recruitment and awareness campaign to recognize 100 years since WW1 Armistice,” the organization said in a statement.
“However, the Central Council, as a principle, does not endorse bell ringing for political reasons,” the statement continued.
The council did note, however, that individual churches “have discretion to ring for such occasions,” but this is done on a case by case basis and typically needs permission from the person in charge of the parish.
Arron Banks, the co-founder of Leave.EU, issued a full-throated response to the opposition to the organization’s plan, saying the “vast majority of churchgoers are patriotic people who will want to hear the bells ring out for freedom.”
“We’ve just about had enough of sandal wearing, vegan eating, virtue signalling clerics,” he said in a statement posted on the group’s website.
One Anglican bishop is calling for church bells to ring out on Feb. 1, but not to celebrate Brexit.
“The purpose of the church bell is to call people to worship and I regret any attempt to politicize this lovely tradition,” Bishop Philip North of Burnley told The Times.
“I think we should be ringing bells on February 1, not to celebrate Brexit but to call people together to pray for our nation at this critical time: For unity, compassion and justice,” he said.
Follow Charles Collins on Twitter: @CharlesinRome
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