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Taylor Swift head and shoulders.png
Image: Reuters
Taylor Swift head and shoulders.png
Image: Reuters
Church News

Swifties flock in large numbers to church service with a difference

by Premier Journalist

A vibrant church service dedicated to all things Taylor Swift attracted over a thousand people, many of them young.

The event was an attempt to reach out to the younger generation by reflecting on and performing lyrics, particularly spiritual ones, by the hugely successful American singer-songwriter.

The unusual service hosted by the Church of the Holy Spirit in Heidelberg, Germany, was named 'Anti Hero' after one of Swift's hits.

It was organised by the church's priest Vincenzo Petracca, who said he he was "completely surprised" when the event's tickets sold out two hours after going live.

In the end, two Swiftie services were staged, to accommodate the numbers wanting to come.

The priest, who DJs in his spare time, believes that "the church still has good answers to the important questions of life. But they are often packaged in a way that younger generations do not understand, it is not their language".

The Times reported that Fr Vincenzo listened to all of Swift's eleven albums to pick out the most suitable songs to focus on.

"Some of her songs are brimming with metaphors, her writing really touched me. I am a Swiftie now," he added.

The subject of whether Swift herself is positive or negative towards Christianity is much debated among Christians due to the varied references in her lyrics and her only occasional references to her own beliefs outside of her songs.

Swift was raised in a Christian home in America's Bible belt and has mentioned Jesus, praying, and faith many times. However, she has also been criticised for her more recent lyrics, including in her latest album, The Tortured Poets Department.

One song, 'But Daddy I love him', goes: "But daddy I love him / I just learned these people only raise you / To cage you / Sarahs and Hannahs in their Sunday best / Clutchin' their pearls, sighing, 'What a mess' / I just learned these people try and save you 'Cause they hate you."

And in the song 'Guilty As Sin', Swift sings: "What if I roll the stone away?/They're gonna crucify me anyway/ What if the way you hold me is actually what's holy."

What we do know is that, as one article put it, "she has no issues using religious symbolism in her craft".

Both protestant and Catholic German churches have experienced consistent decline over the past 25 years, similar to statistics in the UK. By getting more young people over the threshold, the Church of the Holy Spirit hopes to arrest that decline.

"The Church of the Holy Spirit has always been a place of encounter and exchange. That's why a pop-music religious service fits so perfectly," said Heidelberg Pastor Christof Ellsiepen. "With it, we are giving space to the questions and issues that occupy the younger generation."

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