A minister has refused to wear a poppy when she conducts this year’s remembrance service because she believes the symbol ‘advocates war’.
Patricia Jackson told other clergy that she would be happy to sport a white poppy during the proceedings on Remembrance Sunday, but will not wear a red one.
Her decision has upset many parishioners at Hadley Methodist Church in Telford, Shropshire, who claimed that the American-born priest ‘doesn’t seem to realise’ the importance of the poppy.
Ms Jackson, who calls herself ‘Rev PJ’, last week told local councillors it was her ‘democratic right’ not to wear the poppy when conducting the service on November 10.
She did not give a reason for her refusal at the time, but a spokesman for the church said it was because Ms Jackson is an advocate of peace.
‘Reverend Jackson is happy to wear a white poppy, but doesn’t want to wear a red one because she feels it advocates war which is something she does not believe in,’ he said.
‘She is in favour of peace and reconciliation. She is not doing it to be antagonistic – if anything, it is the opposite.’
However, today locals suggested that if Ms Jackson was unwilling to wear the poppy along with most of the congregation, she should not be leading the remembrance service.
Hadley parish councillor Ron Plenderleith, who served in the Armed Forces for 38 years, said: ‘I just think it is unbelievable.
‘If someone says they don’t want to wear a poppy because of their right to democracy I would say that is absolutely correct, but if they don’t want to, don’t get involved in the remembrance service.
‘The Hadley Methodist Church are absolutely brilliant in the way they organise the remembrance parade.’
Fellow councillor Pat Smart added: ‘The Methodist Church and all the people associated with it passionately support the Royal British Legion.
‘The minister doesn’t seem to realise how important it is to us to wear the poppy. This is all political and I can’t respect that in these circumstances. I find the whole thing very sad.’
David Moore, president of the Hadley and Leegomery Royal British Legion, said: ‘From the military members who attend the service – and there are a lot – we were very shocked.
‘If someone decides they don’t want to wear a poppy, that is down to the individual, but if they are officiating a remembrance service, just for an hour, an hour and a half, it’s not going to cut anyone’s throat to wear one.’
Mr Moore said that the remembrance service would go ahead at the church as planned.
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