Christian Bookshop Row over “Anti-Catholic” Claim

From the religious news desk of the Daily Express:

AN UNHOLY row has broken out after the Protestant owner of a Christian bookshop refused to sell a bible to a woman – because she is CATHOLIC.

Muriel Swan, 61, was told she should “get the Pope to open a few bookshops for her” after she was turned away from The Mustard Seed Christian Bookshop.

She went to the shop to look for a gift for her eight-year-old grandson Cameron for his first Holy Communion.

But she was left cross when, she claims, staff told her they didn’t stock Catholic literature and goods – despite advertising themselves as a Christian bookshop.

…Defiant owner Chris Stala defended her store and said Muriel should “get the Pope to open a few bookshops for her”.

The story has trickled up to the national media from the Nottingham Post, which has posted a short video of Swan making her complaint outside the shop. According to Swan, the shop’s owner specifically stated that the Mustard Seed is “anti-Catholic”. However, Post also carries Stala’s response:

“We are not anti-Catholic in anyway. I am a Christian and she is too but we are part of different sects. You would not get Jehovah’s Witnesses coming here either.

…”She should get the Pope to open a few bookshops for her because he has plenty of money.”

The Express appears to have introduced a couple of distortions into the story. First, the shop did not “refuse to sell a Bible” to Swan: clearly, Swan was looking for a Catholic Bible, and probably one with a special decorative features relating to First Communion. In other words, she asked for a particular edition of the Bible that the shop did not stock. The Times, in what appears to be a further exaggeration, has headlined its own article “‘No Catholics’ in Christian bookshop”, and stated that “A woman has claimed that the Protestant owner of a Christian bookshop refused to serve her because she was a Catholic.”

Second, the Express seems undecided as to whether Swan was indeed told to “get the Pope to open a few bookshops”, or if this was a comment Stala made to the media afterwards; but the earlier Nottingham Post story makes it clear that the comment came later. However, for some reason the Express has edited out the “because he has plenty of money” part of her quote, which appears to be a jibe and is suggestive of a hostile perspective on Catholicism.

Journalistic interest in the “unholy row” (one of the most annoying clichés in journalism) does not appear to have extended to anyone actually entering the shop to browse the shelves (I haven’t been able to read the full Times article, but it seems to be derivative). It would have been fairly easy to determine if the shop has an anti-Catholic perspective; in particular, such shops tend to have a section on “cults”, and any anti-Catholic polemic will probably be found there.

The Express also quotes Swan as saying

“I’ve since found out although they are a Protestant shop but they also stock Jewish things too.”

That is not as odd as it may sound. First, there are at least two Messianic congregations in the Nottingham area; Messianic Jews accept Jesus as the Messiah and are accepted as Christians, but their style of worship retains elements of their Jewish heritage. Second, there is a trend by which some evangelicals appropriate Jewish cultural items, as an expression of philo-Semitism and in the belief that it brings their devotional practices closer to the religious world of Jesus.

5 Responses

  1. I thought that in the above article we have a very fair report. Pro-testants are those who pro-testify to the Holy Bible’s teaching and are therefore truly catholic and Apostolic themselves. The Roman Catholic Church on the other hand often pro-testifies to itself as the only true Church, as they believe it to be; and to beliefs other than those held in the Holy Bible. So a Bible bookshop would not wish to promote that.

    I myself am happy to use Roman Catholic Bibles and to pass on such to Roman Catholic inquirers, just as I am happy to use Jehovah Witness Bibles in places; though neither are as reliable, as translations, than, say, the King James Version/New King James Bible.

    Is all this a storm in a teacup to sell newspapers?

    And maybe the Bishop of Rome should open more bookshops: there was very a good one in Edinburgh where you could buy Copleston’s History of Western Philosophy, hardback, at a very reasonable price – Copleston being an oustanding Roman Catholic Philosopher. I now have it.

  2. I was going to say, there obviously are Catholic bookshops. I think I remember the same one mentioned above.

  3. The enmity and hatred between Protestant and Catholic has been a continuous historical situation since Luther and Calvin created the schism in the 14c. Very few outsiders understand how deeply the fundamentalist cadres of each sect despise each other but a quick glance at the history of Northern Ireland will perhaps give one a clue.

    Sectarian Christian enmity has been the cause, historically of literally millions of deaths and due to the usual Xist blind-spot is rarely alluded to even when it is glaring, as in the case of this bookshop incident.

    The SAFF have chronicled the constant sectarian hatred between Catholic and Protestant here:

    anyone who values peace in society should read it. The fact that most anti-fascists are ignorant of this history shows how cleverly the fundies spread their poison and it accounts for much of the recent shocking anti-semitic activity in universities and the political fringes of the Left.

    Much of the current post-internet anti-Catholic propaganda has become enmeshed with modern re-tellings of Papist plots to include Zionistic Freemasonic Satanic Cults.

    Very many of the people who support the idea of Satanic Ritual Abuse and a corrupt political establishment are in fact Protestant bigots finding a convenient platform for their prejudice on the internet. If the government were clued in to this problem properly we wouldn’t have the many instances of the conspiracyloon-tail-wagging-the-political-dog which have occurred over the past few years.

    The Catholic church in its turn has it’s own demonology about the supposed intentions and ‘satanic influences’ of the Protestant lobby, with political intrigue at a high level organised by Opus Dei.

    One can easily see the direct parallels between the dangers of this schism in Christianity and the schism between Shiites and Sunnis in Islam which is causing hundreds of thousands of innocents to suffer in the Middle East today.

    The media of course, dumb-down the historical implications and influence on society of such fundamentalist agent provocateurs, who rely on the gullible British press to suck-in and wind-up any controversy. It’s all a form of missionary activity and they are getting extremely clever at it.

    The SAFF has a large file of instances just like this, where local fundie agent-provocateurs create local controversy out of nothing in order to get publicity to recruit a caucus of extremist believers to missionise to others in the area. Almost all the claimed cases and reports of Satanic Abuse in the 1990 scare came from these people and turned out to be false.

    I can quote a similar but antipodean example in the case of a bookshop owner of my acquaintance who, many years ago during the period when a fatwah was put on Salman Rushdie was verbally accosted by three Moslems who demanded that he take a copy of the Penguin Books English edition of The Koran out of the display in his window because it was an insult to Allah to keep the Koran uncovered.

    The Bookshop owner had put it there along with other books on Islam in an attempt to provide factual information and heal cultural divisions locally. Healing cultural divisions is NOT what fundamentalists want. The problem is NOT with the mainstream Catholic or Protestant churches but with free-style evil fundamentalist agent-provocateurs who will use any excuse to cause division, enmity, and hatred to gain power and influence at any price. Their interference with our supposedly democratic society is immense and largely goes unseen.

    Lastly, I am surprised at Barthsnotes for perpetuating the propaganda that Messianic Jews are a different type of Christianity. The Messianic Jews Movement was started in the U.S. in the 1990s by fundamentalist Protestant Christians in a exclusive attempt to poach vulnerable Jews away from Judaism and get them to accept Christ as the Messiah.

    The sneaky way they did this was seento be so dangerous that Orthodox Jewry both here in the the U.S. had to mount extensive campaigns to counter the very idea which Barthsnotes has rubber-stamped – that Messianic Jews are simply Jews who believe in Jesus.

    Obviously, semantically, any Jew who believes in Jesus is a CHRISTIAN not a Jew. The Christians have been trying to force the Jews to accept Jesus as the messiah for 2,000 years because the coming of the Messiah is prophesied in ancient Jewish Holy Books and the refutation of Jesus as the Messiah by the Jews entirely undermines the Christian religion. Their refusal to do so has cost millions of Jewish lives over the centuries when they were tortured and killed as ‘dissenters’.

    You can find out how and why here:

    Please do not glibly accept as fact the well-polished propaganda from fundamentalist Christians, Protestant, Catholic, or ‘Messianic Jews’ . Minimising fundamentalists as ‘loonies’ who don’t matter is one of the biggest mistakes a multi-faith culture can make.

    Tony Rhodes

  4. Way to hijack a tread there, Tony.

    • A sectarian storm in a teacup gets wide national coverage whilst giving a free platform for unrepresentative bigots to poison the minds of the gullible to create social dissension in an already fragmented and conflicted society; and you accuse US of hijacking a thread?

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