A London park authority has stopped plans to put a giant inflatable whale bedside the Thames because it would be “too religious”. The Bible Society had hoped to place the mock 50ft sperm whale in a park opposite Tower Bridge to illustrate the story of Jonah.
The Potters Field Management Trust, who run the park, however, rejected the plans. The chief executive told the Telegraph: “I am afraid that under the terms of our lease we are not allowed to have any events of a religious nature.”
The life-size whale, which is owned by a circus troop, has been put up on the same spot before as part of a pirate-themed attraction. The creature is big enough for children to explore inside, where actors playing Jonah and other biblical characters would reintroduce them to stories once familiar to their ancestors.
The Bible Society decided to create the attraction following research showing that an increasing number of children do not know classic bible stories. They insist that the aim is not promote Christianity but to merely tell children about stories with which previous generations were familiar.
Bible Society chief executive James Catford said: “We’re not here to tell children what to believe. We simply want to give them a really fun experience they will always remember.
“The research we recently commissioned as part of Bible Society’s ‘Pass It On’ campaign showed that 80 per cent of all parents think their children should have the opportunity to engage with Bible stories.
“The challenge is knowing where to begin. We thought that giving children the chance to sit in a large inflatable whale and have the story of Jonah read to them was a good place to start.”
The Bible Society are still looking for a new spot for the whale.