Thanks for posting this. (I just caught it now.) The reactions of religiously serious Britons to this – another desperate attempt to bring people back to a Church that has lost its own theological bearings – makes the point I was making over the last few days in another discussion:
I just used the picture of the UK Cathedral reused as an indoor golf course at a recent city council meeting. The context of the meeting was about the closure of the very beautiful 157 year old St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. The entire congregation died off including the 83 year old pastor. The Bishop came and did a final mass and announced closure of the parish. Of course, City officials including the mayor lamented the fact that this church was part of the abolitionist movement pre-civil war and was part of the community for 157 years. On facebook people exchanged pictures of their grandparents’ baptisms and weddings.
I of course was the bad guy atheist in the room. I asked the following questions: Since the church was no longer operating as a charity for the community, when does it lose the tax exemption on the million dollar property it occupies? I stated that it was the obligation of the tax assessor to assess the property at its full market value and require payment of about $50,000 a year in property taxes that are used for schools, police, and city services. I got a lot of grief for stating this.
Next I brought up reuse of the property. If the Episcopal Church gave the property to the city, then the city could spend public funds making the beautiful church into a nice library or community center.
Here is where I was met with the biggest opposition. A group of investors demanded that the property be sold to the highest bidder and that they will make the church into a beautiful bar/restaurant that will pay hundred of thousands of dollars to the city in taxes.
So while people cry about the decline of church attendance, there are others who want to better the community in many alternative ways.