Religious Row as Mandelson Pledges a Christian Dome
Byline: JOHN DEANS
THE controversial Millennium Dome was at the centre of a new row last night - over religion.
It broke out after calls from Church of England leaders for the Christian basis of the millennium to be emphasised at the [pounds sterling]750 million Greenwich site.
In reply, Peter Mandelson, the Minister in charge of the project, promised that the impact of Christianity on Western civilisation would be a 'central' feature.
But another Dome executive challenged the idea, claiming that all religions had rights which should be represented and warning that sponsors' wishes must be considered.
The debate hotted up as Mr Mandel-son flew home after a trip to Disney World in Florida, where he was picking up tips on designing dramatic and successful displays.
One Dome exhibit has already been revealed as a 150ft human figure, planned as an entertaining way of showing the workings of the body.
The plea for a Christian theme came from the Bishop of Oxford, the Right Reverend Richard Harries, who said: 'The millennium is, after all, first and foremost a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.' He said the Tory government had promised a strong Christian theme and added: 'I think the churches will be looking for that to be honoured under the present government.
'Obviously the Christian churches recognise that the whole of society will want to share in the millennium and they are not going to be mean-minded about people having a lot of secular fun.
'But we want to ensure the Christian dimension of this is not marginalised.' Mr Mandelson, in a letter published in today's Daily Telegraph, acknowledges the need to recognise the Christian significance. …