PENNAL, Wales — In the wake of one U.S. pastor burning another religion's scriptures, a pastor in Wales has now burned parts of his own Bible.
The Daily Mail reports that a Church of Wales minister, the Rev. Geraint ap Iorwerth of St. Peter ad Vincula Church in western Wales took the King James Bible and cut out the pages he did not like. "I cut out all the nasty bits of that Bible," the 60-year-old pastor told the Daily Mail. He cut out the verses he thought, according to the BBC, depicted a "cruel and vile God" and created a 9-foot-by-7-foot collage — mingling the verses with happy parts of Christmas Cards, and hung it on the wall at his church. It was all part of an event to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.
He took the remaining scraps of the pages and burnt them at the church's event, telling the BBC it was a "symbol of all the suffering in the world."
"The passages I cut out referred to the wrath of God, a God who killed millions of people in a vengeful, spiteful way. This has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus, a reactionary leader who preached peace," he told WalesOnline "I wanted to literally cut out parts of the Bible that seemed to preach violence … I have not burnt a Bible, I have merely cut bits out and burned the little parts that were left over leaving most of the book intact."
On his FaceBook page, ap Iowerth describes himself as a "writer, masseur, priest and master of philosophy." His ministry is unconventional. He set up an interfaith shrine to the Goddess of Divine Wisdom. He wrote in 2009, "Everything about me rebels against becoming a slave to any concept, however sacred or religious that concept might be." His publisher, O-Books, describes him as someone who "has always exercised his ministry on the fringe of the institutional church. He takes words that traditionalists use to describe him in a derogatory way as a compliment, whether it be 'pagan,' 'heretic,' 'agnostic!'" His book, by the way, is "Gospel of the Fallen Angel" — the story of Jesus from Satan's perspective.
So it is probably no surprise that his parishioners are used to him and are not offended with his cutting and burning (one called his artwork "refreshing, emotive, relevant, transcendent even"), other people in Wales and around the world are not so enthusiastic about his editorial activities.
For example, the Church of Wales Bishop of Bangor, Andy John, is investigating the matter. "Destroying parts of the Bible we don't like is disrespectful and will offend many people," John told WalesOnline. "There are parts of the Bible that we struggle to understand today because culturally our life is so far removed from that period in which the Bible was written. However, it is not given to us to pick and choose — sometimes the most challenging parts are those which we need to wrestle with most of all."
But ap Iowerth is unrepentant and wants a different kind of investigation. "Strange that some people make more of a fuss about a few bits of paper than about the millions of bodies of human beings — men, women and children and babies — that have been destroyed," he told WalesOnline. "It is incumbent upon me as a church leader to launch a national investigation into the fact that so many Christians continue to support the regime of the cruel and vile God that we read about in the Bible. It is a regime that is the antithesis of everything that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, stood and died for."