Search This Blog

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Blessed are the pillaged poor, but ‘listed places of worship’ are more important

Oh, whoopee! The “listed places of worship” in the UK have escaped the ravages of Chancellor George Osborne’s spending review (of which you can read oodles here, among many other places).

But the only thing so far, according to the think tank Ekklesia, that the Church of England has had to say about the review – which will mean mainly the poorest picking up the tab for the financial recklessness of the very rich – is “Thanks for saving our Listed Places of Worship Grants Scheme.”

And this isn’t just listed buildings, don’t forget. Not just buildings that are valuable to the national heritage. They are listed places of worship. That makes them more important, then, and is worth a few more pounds out of the pockets of those who can least afford it.

And religious lunatics keep going on about how marginalised they are.

This is what Ekklesia has to say about the selfish Church of England response:

In a statement issued just a few hours after George Osborne’s announcement of the cuts in public spending which will see an estimated 490,000 public sector workers lose their jobs, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, Bishop of London and Chair of the Church Heritage Forum, said: “I am very glad that the Department for Culture Media and Sport has announced that the Listed Places of Worship Grants Scheme will continue. Abandoning the scheme, which affects every part of the United Kingdom, would have been tantamount to a tax on fundraising; a great disincentive to the hundreds of thousands of volunteers who care for our churches and a blow to the credibility of the concept of the Big Society.

“While I regret that the additional concessions on professional fees, organs and bells, secured in 2006 and already withdrawn, will not be reinstated, I very much welcome the Government’s recognition that church buildings make a large contribution to the community as a whole.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have campaigned tirelessly within the Church of England for the scheme to be maintained and also to the Heritage Minister for his informed concern and determination to find a solution which balances economic necessity with a recognition of the role and potential of our church buildings.”
The Church of England has so far issued no other statement following the spending review.

And he has the gall to regret that concessions on organs and bells and “professional fees” (for whom?) won’t be reinstated. Even if we allowed that old churches can be valuable parts of our heritage as pieces of architecture, not all are, and there is certainly no need for a working organ or a working bell just to keep a building up to scratch.

But that is to ignore that the Church of England is such a huge landowner that it can well afford the upkeep of its churches. If they were owned by the state, that would be a different matter.

Methodists come off a bit better in their response to the big spending review. In a statement yesterday, the president of the Methodist Conference in Britain said the government’s cuts strategy should be judged primarily on how it impacts upon the poorest in society.

1 comment:

Stuart Hartill said...

I've got a garden shed that's falling down, and reading all about the grants for church repairs made me wonder once:-

Suppose I paint my shed black, stick a pentagram on the side and dedicate it to Beelzebub, would it qualify as a 'place of worship' and could I screw the cost of replacing (or even just restoring it) out of the government?

Don't see why not, even two rusty bikes is more traffic than some churches round here get in a week!