So here is the journalism question for today: Is the implosion of the Church of England, especially in terms of worship attendance, so common knowledge that it doesn’t even need to be mentioned in a news story linked to this topic?
It was news when attendance slid under 1 million, earlier this decade. Then the numbers kept falling. Here’s a Guardian report from a year or so ago. The big statistic reported in 2018 was that Sunday attendance was down to “722,000 — 18,000 fewer than in 2016.”
The story I want to look at did not run on a small website or in a niche-market newspaper. It was produced by the BBC, one of the top two or three most important news organizations on the planet.
Maybe this subject is too bleak to be mentioned in what is clearly meant to be a fun story? Here’s the headline on this long feature: “Why are cathedrals hosting helter-skelters and golf courses?” And the overture:
From giant models of Earth and the Moon to a helter-skelter and crazy golf course, cathedrals are increasingly playing host to large artworks and attractions. Why are buildings built for worship being used in the pursuit of fun?
Cathedrals might traditionally be viewed as hallowed places meant for sombre reflection and hushed reverence.
Vast, vaulted ceilings soar high over whispering huddles of wide-eyed tourists as robed wardens patrol the pews to silence anything that could detract from the sanctity of worship.
But cathedral chiefs across the country have been keen to shake free from the shushing stereotype.
Let’s see. There is a glimpse of the “why?” in this story. Why are these Anglican leaders so intent on opening the doors to let people have some fun of this kind?