Portsmouth church under fire for sharing ‘appalling’ Twitter posts

St Agatha's Church in Portsmouth
St Agatha's Church in Portsmouth
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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RELIGIOUS leaders have issued an apology after a church Twitter page shared ‘appalling’ posts supporting Britain First and the outlawing of halal meat.

The Twitter page belonging to St Agatha’s Church, in Landport, has also retweeted numerous posts from far right individuals, including Peter Sweden and Lauren Southern, a right-wing Canadian activist denied entry to the UK.

Father John Maunder

Father John Maunder

But while an ecclesiastical body has vowed to take ‘immediate steps’ to remove all posts, Father John Maunder, from the church, has defended them.

All of the posts in question have been shared, not written, by the church’s Twitter page.

They include messages about deporting Muslims from Greece, banning antifascist groups in the UK and mocking trans issues.

Simon Magorian, from Unite Against Fascism in Portsmouth, said: ‘I am absolutely astonished that any place of worship would share posts about Britain First.

‘They are a fascist organisation and there is no excuse for it. I think this needs to be investigated further as this is absolutely appalling.’

Speaking to The News, Father Maunder, who would not say who shared the posts, said the shares did not mean the church endorsed them.

He said: ‘We are not endorsing the views by sharing it on social media. It is freedom of speech and we are sharing public information.’

The church belongs to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

A spokesperson for the ecclesiastical group said: ‘The Twitter account of St Agatha’s Church Portsmouth is a completely unofficial account and the Ordinariate would wish to completely disassociate itself from the political views expressed on the account.

‘We were made aware of recent posts on the account yesterday evening and have taken immediate steps both to try to prevent further posts and to remove the political material from the site.

‘We understand that a number of individuals have been using this Twitter account and are arranging to have the account restricted so that only the priest at St Agatha’s Church may post in future.

‘It would be a great pity if the many years of charitable outreach to the community which St Agatha’s has offered – most recently in its support of the Homeless Bus – should be overshadowed by this unfortunate and unauthorised use of social media.’

Writer Sean Fleming, 51, who spotted the posts, said: ‘I was horrified and appalled when I saw what the church was sharing online – rather un-Christian views, including anti-Muslim sentiment, a bit of sexism and misogyny, and a tendency to share extreme right wing propaganda.

‘It is a prominent issue and the church needs to take action.’