Belfast Telegraph

Churches' anger in 'Easter-less' egg hunt run by National Trust and Cadbury

By Alf McCreary

Senior church figures in Northern Ireland have joined in criticism of the National Trust and Cadbury's for promoting their Great British Egg Hunt without mentioning Easter.

The annual event sees hundreds of thousands of children search for chocolate eggs at National Trust properties, including 13 in Northern Ireland.

But it has been rebranded to exclude Easter for the first time in 10 years.

The omission of 'Easter' led to anger, with Prime Minister Theresa May saying it was "absolutely ridiculous."

There was also criticism from religious figures here.

Dr Norman Hamilton, convenor of the Presbyterian Council for Public Affairs, said: "Humanity cannot live on chocolate alone.

"The National Trust have quickly realised that they were marketing their Easter events badly.

"They must realise that people will simply not allow their religious history or current practices to be regarded as only for consenting adults and children in private."

David Smyth, from the Evangelical Alliance in Northern Ireland, said: "We need to be careful not to lose perspective or miss the bigger story of Easter itself. The Easter story literally changed the world.

"My prayer is that in and among the fun of egg hunts and chocolate, many people will explore and be transformed by the good news of Easter."

Rev Adrian Dorrian, chair of the Church of Ireland's Church and Society Committee, said: "It is unfortunate that Cadbury's and the National Trust felt that there was either a compelling reason to remove Easter from the title of these events or at least no compelling reason not to.

"The two organisations are to be commended for not shying away from the word elsewhere in their promotional material and for heeding concerns about reinserting Easter into the wording about the events in question."

Canon Ian Ellis, editor of the Church of Ireland Gazette, said any avoidance of the word "Easter" was "very regrettable." "The egg is an important Easter symbol, and the words 'Easter' and 'egg' go together," he added. "The increasing secularism is not all the fault of society at large. The churches are responsible for communicating the Christian faith, and there is clearly always room for improvement."

Cadbury's, which sponsors the event, said it wanted to appeal to non-Christians. "We invite people from all faiths and none to enjoy our seasonal treats," the company added.

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