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This is a city riddled with paranoia and prejudice about religion. But the conspiracies are often real; the Protestant Masons really did control the trade jobs in the shipyards and ‘the Catholic Mafia’ have often dominated the Council. It’s a city where the most important summer rituals are either First Communions or Orange Walks. A city where social introductions immediately affirm religious status by the deceptively casual enquiry ‘Whit school did ye go to?’ Where toddlers taunt each other with skipping rope rhymes of ‘Cathy-cats, eat the rats . . .’ or ‘Proddy-dogs, eat the frogs, two a penny ha’penny,’ then grow up to shriek hatred at each other across the terraces of the infamous Old Firm games.

And after a hard day’s hatred the Celtic fans are unlikely to suffer massive pangs of Catholic guilt, the Rangers diehards unlikely to repent. Both sides probably retire home and hang up their scarves glowing with the smug pride of the Crusaders, true defenders of their respective faiths. The irony is that such petty prejudice has nothing at all to do with faith.

The increasingly multi-cultural nature of the city and one of its most distinctive landmarks is now the mosque down by the Clyde has somewhat taken the focus off the Catholic-Protestant bickerings and the ecumenical movement ever gathers momentum. But beneath the media-smart marketing of New Glasgow, the legacy of


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Papal welcoming a decade ago sectarian stupidity remains, surfacing now and again in minor controversies.

Harry Dunlop has been working on the Museum of Religion project since he joined the People’s Palace as an Assistant Keeper _two years ago. Lately his research has been done in tandem with the preparations for a major six-month exhibition at the People’s


‘We are addressing a lot of difficult issues like the Holy Wars, the Holocaust and even the Celtic and Rangers question.’

Palace, ‘Glasgow’s Good News’. This celebrates the quincentenary of the Catholic Archdiocese in Glasgow.

Dunlop is not a Catholic himself but confesses to a fascination for all forms of religion, on anthropological grounds. ‘The pageantry, the colour, the use of symbolism. For a lot of people religion really helps them to make sense of their lives. It really is quite amazing, religion can unite people through rituals yet simultaneously can be such a divisive factor in the social fabric.’

The exhibition, supported by the Archdiocese, contains religious artefacts, elaborate banners of the various Catholic organisations founded in Glasgow this century including the Knights of St Columbus and the Apostleship of the Sea and souvenirs from the Pope’s visit: keyrings, marble busts of his face, flags and

security guards’ hats. This is complemented by extensive personal testimony from Catholics within the Archdiocese.

There will be similar emphasis on oral history in the forthcoming Museum of Religion, which is to be divided into four galleries: World Religions, Temporary Exhibitions, the Scottish Gallery and Religious Art. Salvador Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross, a major tourist attraction, will flit from its long-time home at Kelvingrove ‘seen as a difficult move for some,’ says O’Neill darkly.

Other exhibits include an ancient African ancestral shrine, Blake prints of Adam and Eve, a Japanese Buddhist shrine and a stunning six-foot statue of Shiva, the Hindu God of destruction ‘quite breathtaking, even in the store you simply cannot walk past it without staring in awe,’ O’Neill enthuses.

‘The Museum is an exciting opportunity; every Glaswegian should be able to go into it and feel that they belong to the city a little bit more. It’s the most inclusive and ambitious thing we could think of,’ he says, adding provocatively and not without some relish, ‘and, I suppose, the thing most likely to get us into trouble.’

Glasgow’s Good News is at the People’s Palace until the end of the year. The Museum of Religion will open in February 1993.

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The List 17— 3()July 199211