In response to the killings at Charlie Hebdo in Paris, All Saints Bingley arranged a service last night entitled ‘The Pen is Mightier than the Sword’.
The Revd Bev Mason said, “When we hear about acts of terror we can become paralysed with fear, so we wanted to provide a space for people to express their thoughts and process their thinking in a place where God is present and can speak into that fear.”
The service also mourned the loss of the increasing number of journalists killed in conflict zones around the world.
The address was given by the Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Toby Howarth, who said, “The pen is mightier than the sword when it’s used well and courageously. It’s extremely important that we celebrate the work of journalists. Good journalism shines a light on truth and reveals the uncomfortable complexities underneath.
“. . . And when journalists are prevented from doing their work, perpetrators of violence are at liberty to continue because they’re not held to account.”
In a ‘symbolic act of defiance’ children from Holy Trinity CE School laid pencils and a bible on the altar (above). And after prayers, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Bradford led the lighting of candles.
Other views were expressed by Philip Davies MP and Chris Tate (left), a journalist at the Bradford Telegraph & Argus (and former News of the World journalist). He said: “The only opposition to evil is to change minds by finding and then telling the truth. That’s what journalists have always tried to do.”
In a possibly unprecedented introduction to the Gospel reading, he said. “This is the Bible. It’s generally good news and was written by reporters. One of the best is Luke and I’ll finish with the intro to his Gospel: Since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good to write an orderly account for you so that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed.”
And in Leeds, Leeds Faiths Forum sent out the following statement following the attack in Paris:
"Leeds Faiths Forum represents people belonging to the nine principal faiths in Leeds, and we wish to express our horror and revulsion at the attack on Charlie Hebdo, the police and the Kosher supermarket, seeing them as attacks on free speech so hard won, religious freedom and tolerance, which are so central to our society’s values.
"We believe that with free speech comes the responsibility to use it wisely, whether this concerns intrusion into privacy or satirising of religion. We urge mutual respect in the media and reject the mockery of what is deeply important and precious to the different faiths.
"We have grave concerns about the potential of these recent incidents to polarise our society. So in the context of this and also other atrocities which misuse religion, we urge all faith communities to stand shoulder to shoulder so as to bridge difference not by violence, but by means of understanding and cooperation."