A former Portishead priest says there is evil in the town akin to that which Sam and Frodo battled in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
The Reverend Clive Laws, who resigned from his job as assistant parish priest in April and left the town in July, is urging members of his former flock to pray in an attempt to oust “spiritual forces of wickedness”.
He sent the message to his ex-parishioners in the August edition of the Portishead parish magazine.
The magazine, produced by members of St Nicholas and St Peter’s churches, has a subscription of around 700 and is read by thousands of people across the town.
In his message he refers to the Tolkien classic, Return of the King – part of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy – where characters Sam and Frodo are on their way to Mount Doom to destroy the ring and break the power of Mordor, a place of evil next to the Mountain of Shadows.
He likens the story to activities in Portishead and urges members of the church to continue doing their good work to push away evil forces.
In his message he says: “There is an immense battle going on in Tolkien’s world and it is taking place at different levels.
“I believe that there is an immense battle going on here in Portishead, indeed all through the Gordano Valley.
“I believe that there are spiritual forces of wickedness that are fighting against the coming of Christ’s Kingdom in this place.
“They are intent on breaking and destroying all that is good and lovely and true.”
Rev Laws, a 58-year-old father of three, also urges his parishioners to pray for the ‘overthrowing of darkness.’
In his message he adds: “Keep on praying – please keep on praying.
“Pray for the overthrowing of darkness and for the breaking in of Christ’s just and gentle rule.”
When contacted by the Bristol Evening Post, Rev Laws said the wickedness prevailing in the town was one of the reasons he had chosen to leave Portishead.
Rev Laws cited examples of evilness including the case of Clevedon vicar Revd David Smith who was jailed for five years after being found guilty of sexually abusing young boys over a 30-year period.
He also said drugs and violence, like many towns across the UK, were problems being faced in Portishead.
Rev Law said “We’ve left Portishead earlier than we would have done and the wickedness is one of the factors which made me leave the town.
“We’d been in the town for 12 years and felt that our work here had come to an end.
“This was a message of farewell to the church family and not aimed at anyone individual.
“I want people to be aware that in this world there is a battle and not to lose heart whatever the struggles are and that good will overcome evil.
“This is a message of concern and love for the people that we loved in Portishead to urge them to stand up for what is good, lovely and true.
“Evil only prevails if good people do nothing. (or move away?)
“I want to encourage God’s people in Portishead to stand for and do what is good and lovely and true and to push back evil.”
Rev Laws, who worked at both St Nicholas and St Peter’s Church in Portishead, is now working for the Diocese of Chelmsford as priest in charge of Matching and the Lavers in Chelmsford, Essex.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Bath and Wells, said: “There is always a struggle between good and evil and the Christian church shines as a bright beacon in this world which is often dark.
“Portishead is no different from any other town in this regard. There are a lot of good people in Portishead working to service the community and their neighbours.
“Portishead is a fine town with many fine people and is served faithfully by an active and attractive church.”