Sunday, 29 January 2017

No More Support for Redundant Churches!

ComptonBeauchamp StSwithun WestPortrait.jpg
St Swithun Church, Compton Beaucham,
Vale of the White Horse, Oxfordshire.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia. By Motacilla - Own work,
CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
National Secular Society - Government must not prop up the Church of England, says NSS

The UK National Secular Society has make strong representation to the UK Government that public money should not continue to be used to prop up the failing Anglican Church and its buildings, pointing out that, despite plummeting congregations and thousands of essentially redundant churches, the Church of England is a very wealthy organisation, having assets estimated at £20 billion!

Despite this wealth, since 2014 the government has allocated some £221 million for repairing and maintaining places of worship, the vast majority of which was spent on Anglican churches and cathedrals.

The representation by the NSS was made to the Department for Culture, Media & Sport which is coordinating the survey for the English Churches and Cathedrals Sustainability Review. The review was set up last March to consider the whole question of the sustainability of the very large number of virtually unused churches.

Weekly attendance at Sunday services has now fallen to 1.4% of the population and some 2000 churches have regular congregations of under 10 people. Two-thirds of churches are in rural areas, catering for around twenty percent of the population. The crisis has come about partly as a result of the Church of England itself withdrawing financial support for these building in order to concentrate on missionary work and measures designed to reverse the declining congregation figures.

In effect, despite its wealth, the church is abandoning its responsibility to maintain the buildings, for some of which a secular case can be made for being maintained on grounds of cultural or historical significance. Despite this the church is seeking to maintain control of these assets. If this funding shortfall is made good by national or local government this amounts to a public subsidy for a religious organisation serving only a small section of society and which is rejected by the large majority of the population.

The Department for Culture, Media & Sport's survey is open for comments until Tuesday, 31st January 2017.

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