St Austell religious leaders object to Earth Goddess statue

Artist Sandy Brown alongside Earth Goddess, which is currently work in progress

Religious leaders in a Cornish town have called for a statue to be removed or for its name to be changed because of its “spiritual significance”.

The £80,000 ceramic art Earth Goddess was put up in St Austell in June to “celebrate the area’s heritage”.

A letter was sent by seven religious leaders to the town council, saying the statue was “offensive to God”.

Richard Pears, former mayor of the town, said there were no plans to remove it or change its name.

The 36ft (11m) tall statue is part of a project to regenerate St Austell, which used to have a thriving china clay industry.

The letter said leaders of the town were “actively, though likely unknowingly, choosing to reject God and instead to bring the town under the spiritual influence of an ‘earth goddess'”.

It went on: “We would ask that you consider either making significant changes to the statue… or at the very least the name is changed so that it is an abstract piece of art with no spiritual element. Or that you consider removing or relocating the statue.”

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One of the local clergy behind the letter, Pete Godfrey, pastor of the St Austell Light and Life church, told BBC Radio Cornwall: “God lays out for us the way to live and two key parts of that are to have no God but him and that we are to make no idols and this statue does both of those things.

“And so it lays out for us clearly that it is offensive to God.”

Richard Pears, former mayor of the town and a Cornwall councillor, said he was “absolutely bowled over” by the letter.

“Everyone has their own opinion about art but to suggest it was offensive to God, I was absolutely flabbergasted,” he said.

Sculptor Sandy Brown said she was “saddened and baffled” by the objections.

“When I was making her it never occurred to me for one second,” she said.

“She is not religious, she is celebrating Mother Earth and is made of clay to celebrate the area’s heritage.”

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