UK - Controversial dads' group plans cathedral protest
http://www.kentnews .co.uk/kent- news/Controversi al-dads_- group-plans- cathedral- protest-newsinke nt30348.aspx? news=local
POSTED: 28/11/2009 13:00:00
Fathers’ rights campaigners planning a protest at Canterbury Cathedral have refused to rule out climbing up the ancient building.
In the past, members of New Fathers 4 Justice dressed a superheroes have managed to clamber on a series of high-profile buildings and unfurl banners demanding the right for father to see their children following a divorce or separation.
A source inside the controversial group, which will mount the demo on December 12, said: “We are still working out details. The final strategy is being decided.”
Police have warned they will react accordingly if any one climbs on the cathedral.
The Cathedral’s history goes back to 597AD and it is currently running a £50 million fundraising appeal to tackle serious structural problems facing the ancient building.
But ‘Jason’, the group’s South East co-ordinator said the demo is not a protest against the Church of England.
He said: “In fact we want them to do more to help fathers who are being cut off from their children through no fault of their own.
“Most people know this is not fair, yet it seems the Church and Government simply turn a blind eye to these men and dismiss their situation as unimportant.
“The synod has not debated the family and the breakdowns of the unit since 1991, which is frankly shocking.
“And the Government seems to also be ignoring these men. In many cases they have done nothing wrong, yet are told by mothers and the courts that they have no right to see their own children. For many, this is a wrench that is almost impossible to bear.”
The group is now organising what it is calling a “high profile protest” at the Cathedral for the first time.
Previously members have scaled the Royal Courts of Justice, Tower Bridge, thrown purple flour bombs at Tony Blair during Prime Minister's Questions at the House of Commons, and climbed onto the roof of Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman's house.
Jason said: “We want to put father back into Christmas. That is our slogan for this demonstration, and it makes so much sense.
“Christmas is a time for families, so it is all the more harder for dads to be apart from their children at this time of year.
“We know there are many fathers in Kent who are in this position and we would urge them to attend this protest, preferably dressed in a Santa outfit to drive the point home to the Church.
“We want to get our message across and slowly chip away at the establishment in the hope they will one day see how serious this is for so many people.”
New Fathers 4 Justice said the Church of England was showing a lack of leadership on modern-day family life, divorce and protection of young children's rights to both parents and extended families.
It warns it can’t rule out direct action at religious services.
Fathers are also part of the church flock that need help, yet the Church fails to speak out about a problem that causes so much pain, said Jason.
He said: “Children need contact with both a mother and a father and with extended families to provide the love, care, nurturing and discipline necessary for a happy childhood.
“We as dads and grandparents love our children and just wish to spend time with them but the present system breeds demoralisation in the home and workplace, compounded with further damage to even the sanest person's mental health.
“The Church of England and it representatives must stop ignoring the consequences of family breakdown.”
A spokesman for the Cathedral said: “I think there are better ways to make their protest. The courts and government control these things.
“It’s also not true the Church has turned its back on this.
“On February 12 this year, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams spoke at the House of Lords’ Children: Good Childhood Inquiry Report Debate where he backed the debate which called attention to the publication of the Good Childhood Inquiry report.”