Church of Wales

How Britain's Telegraph twisted itself into pretzel over yoga-rejecting Christian parish

How Britain's Telegraph twisted itself into pretzel over yoga-rejecting Christian parish

Sometimes, I feel as if I'm visiting here from an alternative journalistic universe.

It seems the notion of a Christian church acting like, well, a traditional Christian church is something as foreign to some of us journalist types as this planet would seem if one had just arrived from Mars.

Consider this article from The Daily Telegraph, one of Britain's more conservative newspapers (it once had the nickname of "The Daily Torygraph"). Apparently, some folks in Wales are upset because while part of a local Anglican church will be used as a community center, classes in yoga won't be permitted.

So Pilates, si, yoga, no. Seriously. Residents are not happy with the church council's -- wait for it -- position on this twisted issue. From the Telegraph 's account:

Parishioners have threatened to boycott a church that banned yoga from its premises because it is "non-Christian".

Church bosses said the discipline that originated in ancient India "might be seen to be in conflict with Christian values and belief".

Part of St David's Church, in Ceredigion, Wales, is being converted into a community centre after complaints that the village of Blaenporth lacked facilities. However, some locals were shocked after the Parochial Church Council (PCC) ruled that, while pilates would be allowed in the planned centre, yoga would not be -- along with other "non-Christian activities".

Those who say that yoga is non-Christian often claim to hold the viewpoint because it "teaches participants to focus on oneself, instead of on the one true God".

The first journalistic problem, as careful readers might recognize off the bat, is the use of the word "parishioners" in the first sentence. By the fourth paragraph, we're informed that it is, instead "some locals" who are upset over the yoga ban. Are we talking about active church members or people who simply live inside the borders of some "parish" region?

This is a distinction with a difference.

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Ye old news subject of Anglican decline gets royal treatment from The Economist

Ye old news subject of Anglican decline gets royal treatment from The Economist

The British-based weekly The Economist has achieved must-read status for its foreign affairs and financial reportage, and includes a solid if somewhat spotty U.S. package for stateside readers.

On religion, it doesn’t do all that much, but when it does the pieces are usually well worth reading. For one example, there’s a recent examination of the Church of England’s long-running decline and fall. It’s a particularly good example for news scribes of how to enrich a somewhat familiar theme with ample fact-gathering combined with analysis and compressed into one page with the usual newsmagazine wizardry.

Though generally aware of the situation, GetReligion folks who keep up with church events will learn new stuff about this established royal institution, nominally headed by England’s monarch and led by an archbishop picked by the prime minister’s advisors. (The Church of England is separate from the other Anglican branches in Britain, the Church of Ireland, Church in Wales and Scottish Episcopal Church.)  And for readers who don’t follow church affairs, this article will be a revelation.

First, some of those facts. In January, average attendance slipped below 1 million for the first time. Another milestone, in 2009, showed Britons without religion slightly outnumbered those saying they’re Christians (now increased to 49 percent vs. 43 percent). And since 2004 baptisms are down 12%, church marriages down 19%, and funerals down 29%. Nowadays a quarter of Sunday services are attended by 16 or fewer worshipers.

A Gallup survey last year found only six of 65 countries are less religious than the United Kingdom. And so forth and so on. World without end. Amen.

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