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Bishop of London: Vicars Should Grow Beard To Reach Out To Muslims

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From the Telegraph:

It brings together the most unlikely of bedfellows from Prince Harry toGerry Adams and even – in many depictions – God himself.

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Now the fashion for beards has been given the blessing of the Church of England, after one of the country’s most senior clerics praised vicars who grow them to appeal to Muslim communities around them.

The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, singled out two East End priests who had cultivated bushy facial hair “of an opulence that would not have disgraced a Victorian sage”, for special praise.

More than simply a fashion choice, the move reflected a desire to “reach out” to the community in their Tower Hamlets parishes, a large proportion of whom are of Bangladeshi origin, he said.

It is, he added, an acknowledgement of the fact that in many Middle Eastern and Asian cultures the hirsute appearance is more associated with “holy men” than hipsters.

The bishop, who sports what he describes as a “modest” beard dating from the late 1970s, made the observation in an article for the Church Timestracing the history of facial hair over the last 2,000 years of Christianity.

In Islam beards are viewed as an “adornment” and Muslim men are encouraged to wear them to honour the Prophet Mohammed.

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