Wednesday, 6 December 2006

St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust

My SPCK cartoon appears in this month's Christian Marketplace magazine, which is nice.

I've been keeping an eye on the St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust / SPCK story as it intrigues me and I am interested to see what happens. It did not
surprise me to read that the Trust have instructed their shops not to stock the Koran, as they are not overly enthusiastic about the Muslim faith. It remains to be seen whether Christian denominations they also are not terribly enthusiastic about will be less represented or removed from the SPCK shelves.

The controversial 'St Stephen Foundation' website which talks about these dubious denominations in quite strong terms has now been deleted from the internet, although you can still see it via

One of the aims of the St Stephen the Great Charitable Trust which I hadn't quite noticed until now is to take over at least 47 redundant Church of England Churches, one for each of the 47 churches and monasteries St Stephen the Great built to celebrate his battle victories against the Muslims:

Perhaps of equal or greater significance to this great saint's life is that he built many churches and monasteries, one after each of his 47 successful battles against the Moslems, including many of the most beautiful monuments to Orthodoxy in the entire world.

This struggle for the Faith is being waged primarily by the acquisition of the "redundant" church buildings of the Church of England. In this, its second year, the trust has succeeded in acquiring fee title to its second magnificent church building (both are listed buildings). In the years to come, it aspires to acquire at least 45 more. I find this a fairly unsavoury symbolic gesture I have to say.

I find it all a bit sad as I remain a great fan of the SPCK bookshops themselves.

Update: Joe asked in the comments whether we should stop supporting the SPCK bookshops. My answer is no. I think we should continue to support SPCK shops for the following reasons:

• I think the good the shops and the books sold through them do outweighs the strange and dubious objectives of the owners.
• I want to support the staff, some of whom I know.
• I suspect that once this chain is gone it really is gone and I can't see anything similar replacing it. At least if we continue to support SPCK there remains the chance that it will be taken over by someone we are able to support more wholeheartedly.

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