Book divides churchgoers

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THE VICAR of Enoch Powell's local church said yesterday that Mr Powell was following an 'impossible' route by disregarding all previous theological thought, writes Glenda Cooper.

And churchgoers in London were divided between regarding the former MP's ideas as freedom of expression, dangerous or delusory.

The Rev David Prior, of St Michael's Chester Square, an Anglican church near to Mr Powell's London home, said: 'He seems to me to be following a route which is difficult, if not impossible, which is to ignore everything that has been written before. I suppose he's coming at it from a totally fresh standpoint, but he must know as a churchgoer and a Christian what he is suggesting - directly or indirectly - is unravelling the whole Christian story. The prophecies in the Old Testament require the crucifixion.'

He added: 'He must have a purpose in doing this - a man in his eighties does not fill in time doing research - but I don't know why he's querying the historical part of Jesus's death which the Roman historians Josephus and Tacitus both record.'

Horace Houghton, a Roman Catholic who had been attending a memorial Mass for his son at Westminster Cathedral, said he had respect for Mr Powell's views. But his daughter-in-law said: 'It seems to me Enoch Powell wants us to believe in Enoch Powell and not God.'

Outside St Margaret's, Westminster, where Mr Powell regularly worships, George Farmer, a bricklayer, said that he thought Mr Powell had a right to freedom of speech. He added: 'But what is he doing still worshipping here if he doesn't believe it?'

Jonathan Wright, who works in the City, said he found Mr Powell's claims worrying and dangerous because he was 'throwing the blame back on the Jews'.