Peace pole removed after complaints

Concerns raised over true meaning of symbol.

A PEACE pole outside Honiton Baptist Church has been taken down amid fears about what it really stands for.

The pole was taken down after Reverend Ben Bendrey from Honiton Baptist Church received complaints from members of the community over what the pole symbolised.

He said: “The pole was taken down because it was not actually what it was meant to be and we had a lot of complaints about it.

“We did, basically, think it was calling for peace in the world but, from what we have been told, it is not and is for peace in all religions and all roads lead to one god.

“We are not against peace – it is what the pole stands for. We thought it was for peace that’s what we all want, but it has given us a battle.”

“It has caused a lot of problems with people in the church and people in the town have complained. In the end we just took it down.

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“People felt it was not Christian at all and felt it should not be on Christian grounds.”

In the past, the church has been targeted by vandals and it was feared further damage could be caused.

Reverend Bendrey said he was surprised at the reaction the peace poll has sparked.

He added: “I didn’t think it would cause that reaction at all. It surprised us.”

The pole was planted in celebration of the United Nations Day on Sunday, October 24.

During the celebration, the universal prayer was spoken in six languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, English, Welsh, Spanish and Batonga.

Reverend Mervyn Temple, who was a key figure in the planting of the pole, said: “Its subsequent removal and disappearance has come as something of a shock to those of us involved in arranging this event.

“A public commitment to dialogue, harmony and peace has been arbitrarily and anonymously denied.

“Those of us who attended the saying of the Prayer for Peace and the planting of the Peace Pole are working out how we can respond.

“It is my own view that in a spirit of peaceful dialogue it would be good to arrange an open meeting so that those who removed the Peace Pole can publicly express their views, together with those who had been hoping to see the saying the Prayer for Peace become an annual event.”

The church is currently investigating putting something else in its place and relocating the peace pole.