Alcohol campaigners say church is irresponsible to sell beer to fund spire repairs

A SCOTTISH church has been criticised by alcohol awareness groups for selling festive booze to raise funds for spire repairs.

St Matthew's Church in Perth has joined forces with Inveralmond Brewery to market St Matthew's Ale as a fundraiser. The kirk has been cashing in for every keg sold over the holiday period. But opponents claim the drive is "irresponsible and ill-conceived", and they suggested that the church reconsider.

St Matthew's Church has also been criticised by senior members of the congregation, who pointed out that another Perth church organises "street pastors" to help drunks every weekend.

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The beer has been sold in Perth's Capital Asset pub, including during the Watchnight service on Christmas Eve. However, the Rev Scott Burton defended the decision.

He said: "The idea is based on something I saw in the Nineties. I was in the Royal Mile in Edinburgh and saw a sign for St Giles's Ale, which the cathedral was selling to make money for their repairs. We are not promoting alcohol consumption per se; we are promoting responsible drinking. The Capital Asset is very much into Drink Aware.

"The Church has never been against alcohol, but we are against alcohol abuse."

But Jack Law, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, added: "It is an ill-conceived idea for a church to use alcohol as a fundraising measure.

"I would encourage this church to reconsider how it goes about raising its funds."