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Cathedrals should bless gay marriage not build helter skelters and crazy golf courses, says ex-Stonewall CEO

Ella Braidwood August 12, 2019

A fifty foot high helter skelter amusement ride has been put up inside the nave of Norwich Cathedral on August 11, 2019 in Norwich, England. (James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

The ex-CEO of Stonewall has criticised two cathedrals in England for installing a helter skelter and a golf course in their respective naves.

Ben Summerskill, who was chief executive of the LGBT+ rights charity from 2003 to 2014,  said that churches should instead celebrate equal marriage in a letter to the Guardian on Sunday (August 11).

On Friday (August 9), it was revealed that Norwich Cathedral had put up a 55ft high helter skelter in its building after Rochester Cathedral introduced a crazy golf course in its nave at the end of July.

Norwich Cathedral puts up helter skelter after Rochdale introduces crazy golf course

Norwich Cathedral’s eye-catching addition is part of a project called “Seeing It Differently,” which aims to attract more visitors as it hopes the slide will “open up conversations about faith.”

Speaking to the Guardian last week, reverend Andy Bryant had said that some people find cathedrals “slightly exclusive,” saying that they want “everybody to feel that they can come in and enjoy [the helter skelter].”

However, in his letter Summerskill hit out at the cathedrals, arguing that they need to actively show that they welcome same-sex relationships.

People play on the bridge-themed mini-golf course set up in the nave of Rochester Cathedral in Rochester, southeast England, on August 6, 2019. – The nave of the medieval Rochester Cathedral has temporarily been taken over by a bridge-themed adventure golf course designed to encourage young people to learn more about the engineering behind bridges and to encourage visitors and strengthen historic links with the community. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

“C of E premises are still more than slightly exclusive, of course, to thousands of devout Christians in long-term same-sex relationships who would very much like their church to celebrate, or at the very least bless, their weddings,” he wrote.

“Is it any surprise that so many young people (whose common sense and moral compass are often underestimated) are deserting the Church of England?

C of E premises are still more than slightly exclusive, of course, to thousands of devout Christians in long-term same-sex relationships

“Unaccountably, they seem to be unmoved by helter skelters and crazy golf.”

Cathedrals should bless same-sex weddings, says former Stonewall CEO

The helter skelter, which costs £2 per ride, will remain in Norwich Cathedral until August 19.

Meanwhile, Rochester Cathedral’s crazy golf course, which is free of charge, will stay up until the beginning of September.

The helter skelter in Norwich Cathedral. (James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

It has been installed as part of an initiative by the church, which aims to attract young visitors as they learn the importance of building both literal and metaphorical bridges.

“We hope that, while playing adventure golf, visitors will reflect on the bridges that need to be built in their own lives and in our world today,” said reverend Rachel Phillips in a press release.

More: cathedral, equal marriage

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