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Temple art project in Derry could lead to drugs and orgies, claim ministers


Visitors at the Temple in Londonderry, by Burning Man artist David Best

Visitors at the Temple in Londonderry, by Burning Man artist David Best

Rev Graham Orr

Rev Graham Orr

Visitors at the Temple in Londonderry, by Burning Man artist David Best

Controversial Free Presbyterian Minister Rev David McIlveen has come out in support of Tyrone cleric Rev Graham Orr, who described the radical art project Temple in Londonderry as "satanic".

The 70ft structure created by artist David Best, creator of the Burning Man festival in Nevada, has been attracting thousands of people from across Northern Ireland since it opened to the public.

All around the Temple, messages and mementos of loss, pain and hope have been left by visitors. They will all go up in flames tomorrow night at a ceremony in front of 15,000 spectators.

Rev Orr, the Presbyterian minister at Magheramason in Co Tyrone, said he was worried about the "satanic" aspect of the messages and burning of the Temple.

"I was up at the Temple and I was touched by the very heartfelt message left there, but out of a deep love I have for the people of Derry I felt compelled to speak out and warn them that there is a satanic element to things that can look harmless and seem OK, because that is how Satan works.

"I looked into the Burning Man festival and there is a culture of anything goes to that - drugs, orgies and the rest.

"My fear is that this Temple might lead to that in the future. The artist David Best has expressed a desire to come back and build more.

"The idea that flames would bring healing, forgiveness and restoration over past hurts and losses would not be an idea found in the Bible."

Rev McIlveen said: "I am extremely uncomfortable with the concept behind this Temple and while there may be a degree of sincerity from those who created it, sadly it is based on superstition.

"This is a man-made structure and they are deceiving people into thinking that if they leave a message and it is burned they will be free from their pain, but only the living Lord Jesus Christ can take away pain and sorrow, so it is dangerous to let people believe this will solve their difficulties, because it won't."

His colleague in the Presbyterian Church, Rev David Latimer, takes a very different view.

He said: "The Presbyterian Church is structured in such a way that there is no one view on something and my view of the Temple is not the same as Graham's.

"As Christians we have to see the bigger picture and if we look at our wedding rings, they originate in ancient Egyptian times and yet no one is suggesting they are pagan.

"If by visiting the Temple and leaving a message a door is unlocked for someone that will allow them to accept and move on from a difficult situation, then there should be no conflict with Christianity and certainly members of my own church that I have spoken to about Temple see no conflict."

Catholic Church spokesman Fr Michael Canny said the Temple was a piece of art and there was no difficulty with people going to see it.

Belfast Telegraph