‘The Christian conservation charity A Rocha UK said in a statement that bats were not a menace to churches,’ reported Church Times, ‘and insisted that “peaceful co-existence” between the animals and worshippers was possible.’
A Rocha UK had issued the message after Britain’s national press reported on Lord Cormack’s controversial views. ‘In many churches in our land the bat is a terrible problem,’ he told peers.
In the parliamentary talks, Lord Cormack warned of historic churches becoming ‘bat barns’, where the creatures allegedly become more important than churchgoers.
‘Lord Cormack’s comments that bats appear to be more important than worshipping communities is a gross over-reaction to a situation that needs careful and thoughtful action,’ Conservation Director Andy Lester (pictured) said in A Rocha UK’s statement.
‘The presence of bats in the UK churches isn’t new. Bats have been using churches as an alternative to caves and cliff faces which are in short supply. Modern buildings present little or no opportunity for bats to roost and breed.’
A Rocha UK believes Christians should take a lead in conserving creation, along with ensuring the safety of congregations. ‘There are many churches where a peaceful co-existence is entirely possible,’ Andy explained.
In consultation with partners, A Rocha UK is about to launch a new leaflet guiding church leaders to advice and information for managing bats. The resource is to be made freely available on the charity’s website.
‘While recognising there’s a problem in some buildings, removing the bats through a change in the law will have a profoundly serious impact on our national bat population,’ said Andy.
‘The solution is a working partnership between key conservation groups and the church – to make sure bats have a fair deal and that congregations are kept fully informed and engaged.’