Anglican Clergy to Learn Martial Arts for Self-Defense

1 in 8 Has Been Attacked in Southeast England

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LONDON, DEC. 18, 2001 ( Anglican clergymen will learn martial arts in self-defense courses, after a survey found that one in eight ministers had been assaulted.

The courses in tae kwon do, a Korean martial art similar to karate, will show church workers how to deal with attacks, the Guardian newspaper reports.

An instructor will teach men and women ministers how to calm assailants and restrain violent parishioners or members of the public. Assailants have ranged from homeless people and psychiatric patients aggressively begging for money, to middle-class members of congregations angry at being denied their preferred dates for weddings or baptisms.

The martial arts classes will be organized in February by the Manufacturing, Science and Finance union which has recruited hundreds of Church of England clergy.

The Reverend Bill Ward, head of the union´s clergy section, said: «It is a sad fact of modern life that members of the clergy will come into contact with individuals who are likely to resort to violence.»

The union said that ministry work was more dangerous than working as a doctor or a probation officer, with many of the assaults taking place in church grounds or vicarages.

A two-year survey of 1,300 clergy in southeast England, by the Royal Holloway College, University of London, found 12% had been assaulted, 22% threatened with violence, and 70% subjected to verbal abuse.

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