|"Atheists are to hold a service in St John the Evangelist Church, Leeds" Photo: Yorkshire Evening Post|
"We’d like to take all of the good bits out of church and leave the religious stuff behind."
No, that is not the voice of the New Anglicanism although many may think so as coffee time replaces faith as the central act of 'worship' in the Church of England.
St John the Evangelist, the oldest church in Leeds, dates from 1634. The Grade I listed building which is under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust after being made redundant in 1977 is to echo again to the sound of music although there will be no prayers. In a move designed to "take all of the good bits out of church and leave the religious stuff behind" the church's dedication to St John the Evangelist now sounds singularly inappropriate - story here - but who knows!
The disposal and further use of redundant Christian churches is bound to cause problems of identity simply by their appearance on the basis that 'an elephant is an elephant'. What appears to be a house of God will be seen by observers as a house of God even after deconsecration, a process most will know little if anything about. Although a deconsecrated church becomes just another building, its very appearance in most cases still makes it an act of witness, albeit historically.
Like it or not there is an odd sense of unrecognised 'Godliness' in what the Sunday Assembly movement is doing in a church building. God is love! What they seek is professed to be 'for good'. That can't be bad. One day the 'non-worshippers' may sit in silent contemplation and look around wondering what inspired people to construct the ancient building they are not worshipping in.
Another church in the news is St Peter's Catholic church in Stoke-on-Trent which has been sold to the local Muslim community after they made the best offer. That is not so good. Christ's kingdom is not about money but it is under constant threat from Islam. Providing Muslims with another safe haven where radicalisation may take place looks like another act of submission (the meaning of Islam) while Muslims continue to oppress non-Muslims around the world with muted self criticism and implied approval here by constantly giving ground to an oppressive religio-political system of Islamic expansionism.
Also in the news, reported here, the Prison Officers Association has expressed their concern about the growing power and influence of Muslim gangs in prisons. Inmates are being bullied into converting to Islam with fears that some of the converts could be radicalised, a process which inevitably leads to the slaughter of innocents, here, contradicting claims that Islam is a religion of peace.
Communities around the world constantly suffer under Islam particularly when they are minorities as demonstrated by the latest outrage in Egypt here where drive-by, masked gunmen sprayed a wedding party outside a Coptic Church in Cairo with bullets from automatic weapons killing four people including two young girls. Check 'Voice of the Copts' here for what life is like for minorities under Islam.
In these circumstances 'Let us not pray' is far more attractive than the prayers of those called to prayer five times a day while carrying out their barbarous acts in the name of religion.