Canterbury Cathedral is an awe-inspiring, magnificent place. It is also in need of restoration work. To finance the effort, a philanthropic campaign is underway which inadvertantly provides some insight into religion’s standing in the country.
The campaign features large posters with photos of people who are connected to cathedral, each of whom is quoted completing the sentence starter “I love my cathedral because…”. The reasons are varied and understandable: The wonderful staff, the joy of singing, the historical value, the educational programmes and the restoration opportunities for artisans.
Notably absent in the list are motivations such as “I love the cathedral because it brings me closer to God” or “I love the cathedral because it is an inspiring place to practise my Christian faith”.
The campaign designers know their audience. In a self-consciously secular nation, a fund raising campaign to save one of the most significant shrines in Christendom can’t sound any more religious than would an effort to preserve Battersea Power Station.