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World News

'Stop turning our great cathedrals into nightclubs' petition signed by thousands

by Lydia Davies

Over 2,000 individuals have voiced their objection through a petition against a recent silent disco event held at Canterbury Cathedral, an iconic site with deep historical and religious significance.

Established in 597 AD by St Augustine, the cathedral stands as a cornerstone for pilgrimage, serving as the mother church of the Anglican Communion and housing the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Additionally, it holds UNESCO World Heritage status and bears historical weight as the site of Thomas Becket's martyrdom.

The silent disco, featuring 90s pop music and offering alcohol sales within the sacred precincts, prompted a silent vigil outside the cathedral by Christian demonstrators. Despite the controversy stirred by this event, several other cathedrals, including Hereford, Leeds, St Albans, Coventry, Sheffield, and Manchester, have opted to host similar silent discos in the upcoming weeks and months. Manchester Cathedral, for instance, not only plans a silent disco in May but also a Punk Rock Club night at the end of February.

Advert for the Silent Disco in the cathedral

The petition, titled 'Anglican Deans, Stop turning our Great Cathedrals into Nightclubs,' has been signed by over 2,100 individuals on

It accuses cathedral deans of sacrilege, asserting that such venues should be dedicated to prayer, rather than secular entertainment. It urges Christians to voice their dissent and implores cathedral deans to restore the sanctity of these spaces.

"The desecration will not stop unless we resist, with petitions and prayers, to show the clergy their errors and awaken in people's hearts a renewed reverence of our sacred places," The petition reads.

"We the undersigned oppose all desecration of our historic holy places, and especially their use as nightclubs. Dear Anglican Deans, please stop the discos and make the Cathedrals houses of prayer once more."

Critics within the Christian community have also raised concerns. Christian Concern expressed scepticism about the effectiveness of such events in attracting genuine worshipers.

"If Canterbury Cathedral's goal was to attract young and genuine worshipers, a silent disco was definitely not the way." They said.

In a statement to Premier , the Dean of Canterbury, Very Rev David Monteith, said the discos were an exciting opportunity to welcome new attendees to the cathedral and that it was often used for secular events such as "classical concerts, light and sound installations, and craft workshops."

“Whilst dancing of all different kinds has happened in the Cathedral over the centuries - and The Bible memorably celebrates the gift of dancing with King David dancing before the Lord (2 Samuel 6) – there are many different views on the secular and the sacred.

Our 90s-themed silent disco will be appropriate to and respectful of the Cathedral – it is categorically not a ‘rave in the nave’ - but I appreciate that some will never agree that dancing and pop music have a place within cathedrals.”

 Silent discos are also being held at other cathedrals this month – including at Ely, Chelmsford and Guildford. Cathedrals across the country have also been diversifying in order to bring people through their doors, including Norwich Cathedral, which installed a full-size helter-skelter to attract children and young people.

On their official page, Canterbury Cathedral shared a video of the latest disco on February 9th and wrote on X, “Fantastic atmosphere at last night’s Silent Disco!  🎧💃🕺 Thanks to everyone who joined us”


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