Christians offer the Spirit with beer in search for souls

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FOR those who have recently prayed to God for forgiveness after an evening of alcoholic over- indulgence, a less stressful means of communication may have been right under their noses or, rather, their pint mugs, writes Ian MacKinnon.

Beer mats advertising Christianity are appearing in pubs in an attempt to attract new business to churches.

Twenty thousand mats are being placed in bars and cafes as part of a pilot project by the Christian Enquiry Agency.

The multi-denominational group has had several versions printed and drinkers are invited to fill in the coupon on the back and send off for further details.

The idea sprang from an evangelising march across the West Country, the Walk of a Thousand Men, who left six different beer mats in pubs.

The Rev Tony Beetham, director of the agency, said: 'It may not be everybody's cup of tea, and we're not immune from criticism. But in the end people can take it or leave it.'

But the Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Rev Bill Westwood, is sceptical. 'I think it needs to be more subtle to get such a complex message across. And how do you measure success? If it's Mars bars or something you can easily see you're selling more, but our programme tends to be rather longer.'