Glastonbury’s historic shield of arms is “a device of cruelty and intolerance”.
This is the claim from campaigners who want to see the coat of arms of mythical hero King Arthur replace the 300-year-old heraldic symbol.
Councillor Jon Cousins says the current seal may breach equality legislation and that Arthur’s shield would be acceptable to Christians, Goddess and Pagan groups alike.
The existing seal, which has been in place since around 1705, includes a red shield with two crossed croziers in gold, beneath the coat-of-arms of Queen Anne and above the motto Floreat Ecclesia Anglicana – Let the Church of England Flourish.
But councillor Jon Cousins said it had strong anti-Catholic sentiment and pin-points a puritanical time in the town’s history.
He urged them to consider changing the coat of arms to something more representative of the town.
He wants to replace it with a the coat-of-arms of the legendary King Arthur – a green shield, with a silver cross, and the image of the virgin and child on the right hand side.
He has suggested that the shield should be placed beneath an image of the sun rising behind Glastonbury Tor and the motto Unitate Per Diversitas – Unity Through Diversity.
He said the image of the virgin was considered acceptable to Christian faiths, and pagan faiths, some of which believe Christians drew inspiration for her from the pagan mother goddess.
She is also recognised by those in search of the divine feminine.
“The current heraldic device is supposed to be representative of our town,” he said. “But was clearly designed with one faith in mind. It is entirely inappropriate.
“Can you imagine how you would feel looking at this image if you were a member of the Roman Catholic Church, or one of the pagan religions?
“It clearly says there is no room in our town for you.”
He said he believed the crossed croziers and red background were a reminder of the treatment of the last abbot of Glastonbury, who was hung, drawn and quartered on the Tor following the dissolution of the Abbey.
“The coat of arms at the top of the device puts the monarchy above Glastonbury,” he said.
“To me, this is a device of cruelty and intolerance.”
The deputy mayor, Susan Thurgood, said she was fond of the existing coat-of-arms.
“It is my belief that you cannot erase history,” she said.
“You have to face up to it. This shield has been associated with our town for many years, you can still see bullet holes in the wall of the Abbey Ruins, from where it was used for target practice during the civil war.
“We need to accept our history.”
Councillor Denise Michell said she would welcome a new shield, which would represent “all faiths, and none.”
The Mayor of Glastonbury, Ian Tucker agreed for a group of representatives from various faiths in the town, and town historians to consider if the current shield should be changed.
What do you think? Is the current emblem cruel and intolerant, or should it be kept for the sake of tradition?
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