The Year the State Evicted God

For the best part of a year, churches and cathedrals in England and Scotland have been closed and it’s sad how little resistance the Church of England and the Catholic Church has put up to being ordered by government to shut their doors to their congregations.

Yes, many churches have continued conducting services over Zoom or whatever, but it’s definitely not the same. Churches and cathedrals, especially England’s medieval ones, are extraordinarily beautiful places. They are spaces with special atmospheres. They are uniquely contemplative structures that affect people like no other buildings can. That’s surely why practising Christians and Catholics go to them week in week out.

Indeed, that’s why I like to visit them. I’m not religious, but my aesthetic and architectural appreciation for England’s cathedrals knows no bounds. They are wonderful spaces to be inside of. As a photographer, I find them incredible structures to gaze upon, inside and out.

To me, they are the most beautiful buildings human beings have ever made. For all the terrible things man has done in the name of religion, a world without ecclesiastical architecture and art would be a far less joyous one. An astonishing amount of human craftsmanship, artistry, dedication and sheer effort went into building these places precisely so visiting them would be a wonderful and uplifting experience every single time for every single person who did.

If these buildings can bring joy to someone like me who doesn’t even believe in God, then I can only imagine how they make practising Christians and Catholics feel. For the government to be denying people their spiritual moments in these wonderful places is deeply tragic. Almost as tragic has been the Church of England and the Catholic Church’s meekness in the face of state oppression.

Let’s face it, Church leaders could have said no to the government. Would the government have ordered the police to break up services across the land and drag men, women and children out of churches and cathedrals? I very much doubt it. If church leaders had stood up to people in government and refused to close their doors to their members, then the government wouldn’t have known what to do. They would have been taken aback, I’m sure. But, sadly, that didn’t happen.

Look, I understand why it didn’t happen. Church leaders thought they were doing the right thing. They thought closing was a necessary sacrifice to save lives and all that, but I still expected them to put up more of a fight for their parishioners’ right to worship God in a sacred place. I mean, did it not occur to them that God might have been testing their faith and that they failed the test by so meekly obeying a bunch of arrogant authoritarians in government power? It seems to me that if they truly loved God and truly loved their sacred places to worship him, then they would have stood fast and kept the state out.

As it is, the state has taken over every house of God in England and Scotland. Church leaders would surely deny that God is dead, but they can’t deny that he is homeless. Evicted by men in government, who for a year have been acting like Gods. And they have done a pretty good job. They brought down a terrible plague of central planning that killed many people. And they convinced society to condemn any and every person who disobeyed the government’s commandments as evil sinners.

The State has evicted God. When churches and cathedrals are empty of people, they are empty of God. And if I was He, I would be pretty pissed off about that. I find myself in the strange position of being an atheist hoping that God does exist and that he is so ticked off that, one by one, he smites the architects of the UK lockdown. Sadly, I think that’s probably unlikely. Still, at this stage, I’m open to anything.

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