A Canadian charity reported months ago that a third of the nation’s churches would disappear over the next decade — amounting to about 9,000 religious spaces that will no longer be in use. This, we were told, was a sad thing. (Thanks for killing off something else, Millennials.)
It’s hard to feel much sympathy over the loss of local headquarters for priests who disseminate misinformation about LGBTQ people and birth control… but there is actually a good reason to mourn their losses, according to Kendra Fry of the group Faith and the Common Good:
Canada will be losing some of the key places where strangers come together in person for a shared cause.
… The reason it matters from my perspective is that these buildings have proven to be centres of community writ large, so they are homes to all kinds of not-for-profit and community groups that don’t necessarily have anything to do with religion but have to do with the common good. If these faith buildings close then we lose those spaces for those kinds of activities… Day cares, kid’s activities, senior’s activities, municipal voting stations, 12-step groups, meeting spaces — arts groups very often perform and rehearse out of faith buildings because of the acoustics.
Those are legitimate reasons to be concerned. It doesn’t mean we should prop up religion, though. We just need local groups and government officials working to create spaces that the community can use for those purposes. Libraries and rec centers are a good start. Breweries and condos are interesting alternatives.
It’s still interesting that what we’re concerned about here is space. We’re mourning locations, not the mass delusion that brings people together. We’re all better off without that. You don’t even need to replicate church without God, as some groups have attempted.
The hope is that there are plenty of other things that tie us together — without causing so much harm along the way — and there’s a desire to share those bonds in person rather than online. There’s value to that in every community if citizens work to create space for it.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Erick for the link.)