A BOLTON church minister wants to relaunch St George’s Day as a multicultural celebration.
Stephen Lingwood says the English patron saint was a Turkish immigrant and is calling for tomorrow to be celebrated as a day of religious freedom.
The 28-year-old minister at Bank Street Unitarian Chapel, in the town centre, will give a special sermon on Sunday, appealing for people to discover the real St George.
Mr Lingwood, who lives in The Valley, Bolton, said: “It’s time we re-branded St George’s Day, not as a day to celebrate a narrow nationalism but rather the real story of standing up for religious freedom and dissent.
“It’s good to have a day to celebrate England but it needs broadening out, we don’t really know the story of St George very well.
“It is one of dissent and challenge to power, one of fighting for the rights of minorities and fighting for religious freedom so it’s a day for everyone.”
The minister, who has been at the church for 18 months, will tell his congregation that St George was not English or white, but was born in Turkey and is an adopted saint, an immigrant.
And St George is not just England’s patron saint, but is celebrated in countries like Germany, Greece and Lithuania.
He added: “Historians think he was probably a Roman soldier, who stood up against the persecution of Christians and was killed as a result. No one is sure where the dragon legend came from.”