Desperate Church of England turns to cradle-snatching to boost falling numbers

TODDLERS as young as TWO are to be targeted by an increasingly desperate and irrelevant Church of England in a bid to save the church from almost certain extinction.

The C of E, according to this report, is planning its first concerted drive to engage under-18s after admitting that it is comprehensively failing to connect with children and teenagers.

cartoonProposals will be put before the general synod in February that include a blueprint to set up breakfast, homework and sports clubs in schools as well as working in publicly funded toddler playgroups to spread the Christian word.

Going for Growth, a document outlining the proposals says urgent action is needed to shore up the number of children in church:

We need to reconsider how we engage with and express God’s love to this generation of children and young people, whoever and wherever they may be.

Using frank language, it suggests the church is failing young people by being out of touch with their lives:

The tragedy is that we appear to be failing even those with whom we have already connected. The challenge is how to creatively offer children and young people encounters with the Christian faith and the person of Jesus Christ.

The document sets out a plan devised by the Church of England’s education division that promises to make churches more “child-friendly” and to work towards every child – regardless of their faith – having a “life-enhancing encounter with the Christian faith and the person of Jesus Christ”.

It includes:

• An information campaign to supply schools with materials to fulfil their legal duty to conduct a daily act of worship amid reports that many schools have dropped it.

• Creating a new “social, moral, spiritual and cultural curriculum” for further education colleges.

• Working in youth clubs and children’s playcentres to re-establish links outside of church.

The plans suggest the church intends to go beyond schools into the community in an attempt to engage people from an even earlier age. They will be debated at the general synod, the Anglican governing body, in February. If backed, the programme will be rolled out nationally.

The Church lost more than one in ten of its regular worshippers between 1996 and 2006, with a fall from more than one million to 880,000. Within 30 years it could be extinct, according to a warning sounded earlier this year by Bishop Paul Richardson.

Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said:

For most people the church is an irrelevance and it is abusing its privilege by intruding into taxpayer-funded secular places in order to recruit the next generation of churchgoers. Parents should not be forced to have their children endure religious proselytising as a captive audience as the price of receiving public service.

But the Rev Jan Ainsworth, the Church of England’s chief education officer, said there was no compulsion on anyone taking part in a church-run group to become Christian and the emphasis in training would avoid the use of heavy-handed tactics.

We do not endorse high-pressure techniques, we would not endorse anything that places psychological pressure on someone.

Nevertheless, the church would target all children, not just those in Christian families, she said. The primary purpose of Going for Growth was:

Making sure every child does encounter the Christian faith and the Christian story.

29 responses to “Desperate Church of England turns to cradle-snatching to boost falling numbers”

  1. David B says:

    What is the betting that when the CoE does have access to kiddies they tell them about the nativity story etc as if they are historical truth, though the CoE clergy would be well aware that they are not.

    However I doubt that would stop them teaching it as true, in order to deceptively give a false sense of the historicity of Jesus to kids at a time in their lives when they are disposed to believe authority figures.

    I’ve seen it done so often, lying bastards that so many priests of all denominations are.

    There has been some discussion of this report at my favourite discussion board, which can be found by clicking my name here.

    David B

  2. barriejohn says:

    “Encounters with the person of Jesus Christ”! This should be filed under “You Couldn’t Make It Up”!!

  3. barriejohn says:

    My evangelical friends have been practising this sort of thing for years – it’s how I got ensnared. Children have an inbuilt tendency to believe whatever they are told by adults, so the brainwashing is very successful. “Give me a child until he is seven and I’ll give you the man” is a very true adage.

  4. gsw says:

    Actually, with the proper balance this is not a bad thing. My daughter attended an RC primary school, nuns and all, and we discussed their teachings/beliefs etc. with particular reference to ‘why they (nuns) always have to do what the men (priests) say?’ and
    ‘Is being ‘married’ to Jesus like necrophilia?’

    As a result, she is a reasonable, reasoning human being, willing to accept and respect people of different religions – as long as it is mutual – and has been inoculated against all the faiths about which I could get information.

    This will also be the main reason why the muslim sections of the population will no doubt be having kittens!

  5. barriejohn says:

    How many parents are going to be sitting their children down at home and discussing all this rationally with them, @gsw? The reason the religiots want access to them is because this is just what DOESN’T happen!

  6. Perspix says:

    In other areas this strategy is known as “Grooming”.

  7. Angela_K says:

    No surprise to read this report as proselytising is encouraged by our pathetic Government and the state already allows preachers and Alpha course salesmen into schools to con the vulnerable young. No doubt the Government will give the already obscenely rich church money to help them evangelise.

  8. H. Davids says:

    Amazing that schools should have a legal duty to allow pupils indoctrination of any kind at all. Wouldn’t those kids be better of with history and philosophy, the kind of stuff that makes you think? Might be better in the long run than being told stories by an organisation that’s facing oblivion. Why make the CofE suffer longer than is necessary?

  9. Stuart H. says:

    A wee warning from the Isle of Man – where thanks to our ‘independent government’ this has been going on for a couple of years already.
    If it was just middle of the road Anglicans I wouldn’t worry, but what’s more disturbing is what happens when the Anglicans – even with religious employment get-outs and powerful friends in the local education department – still can’t recruit Anglicans for the brainwashing (sorry, ‘educational liason work’).
    We have the ludicrous situation where the head of the area’s C of E primary school and the Diocesan ‘educational liason officer'(i.e down wiv da kids stylee biblebashing loser with open access to all schools) are both members of the local evangelical headbanger cult – foaming at the mouth nutters who no sane parent would allow in the same room as an impressionable child.
    Fact is, faced with possible loss of power and income, the different cults are prepared to put aside their sectarian differences. On the bright side, when high Anglicans have to grit their teeth and work with what one of their number calls ‘the Jesus goes to Toytown Brigade’, if we can just keep our nerve and teach our kids to laugh at such loons for another decade or so it’ll all be over.

  10. barriejohn says:

    But the parents have no idea what’s going on, Stuart; like when they pack their kids off to evangelical Sunday Schools. They just assume that the kids are being taught “Bible Stories” (well – THAT’S true, all right!), and that they should be nice to other people and not steal. When they are turned into raving fanatics, like I was, they wake up too late to what’s behind it all!!

  11. Stuart W says:

    Earlier this month I was walking to my parent’s gaff in Ashford (Middlesex) and passed a house where two godbotherers were engaging a man on his doorstep. As I passed I picked up “But don’t you think if it makes someone a better person, it is worth looking at…” in barely restrained tones of exasperation.

    Notice how these attempts by the panicking church at regaining power and influence are constantly presented as a selfless duty to help others rather than admitting the plain truth; that it bothers them enormously that other Brits do not share their beliefs, making Christianity just another group rather than the unchallengeable authority and guide.

  12. barriejohn says:

    Also, fellow-bloggers, if the Church of England are going to have access to the kids, then, in the interests of balance, the Wiccans, Jehovah’s Witlesses, Morons, $cientologists et al must be given the same opportunity, surely? Sauce for the goose, again, I think!

  13. tony e says:

    I see the C of E is now using the RC model of brainwashing.

  14. Alec s thompson says:

    To paraphrase pink floyd ‘hey (religeous) teacher! Leave them kids alone!’ agree with the comment about grooming tho.

  15. barriejohn says:

    We have an evangelical Anglican Church here, and before my father’s funeral the Vicar was conversing with the visiting clergyman, who was there to to conduct the service, and boasting that “we’ve managed to get some of our members onto the School Governors now!”. This is just the sort of thing that all my fundamentalist friends were always up to – praying that “the Lord” would “overrule”, and then doing everything in their power to bring about what THEY wanted!! Still, God helps those who help themselves, I suppose.

  16. barriejohn says:

    When I was teaching, in a large comprehensive school, the ministers of the local Anglican, RC, and Methodist churches served as governors ex officio, for some strange reason. Fortunately, they were unable to do much damage, and sat through meetings like the three wise monkeys, as there was very little keeping their respective ears apart, I can assure you!

  17. Fedupwith says:

    I read that the British Humanist Association was overwhelmed by the support it received with it’s “Please Don’t Label Me. Let Me Grow Up and Choose For Myself” billboard campaign – co-sponsored by Richard Dawkins.

    It ran for two weeks in London,Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh.
    You can read more about it at

  18. Kurbster says:

    15 comments now, and not one joke about what happens between priests and children…..

    You disappoint me 🙁

  19. Robert Stovold says:

    “we would not endorse anything that places psychological pressure on someone.”

    Ah, right. So no carrot of heaven or stick of hell, then.

    You’d think if Jesus actually wanted to have a relationship with these children, he’d just get on and do it, without the need for the Church to engage in a recruitment drive. It’s almost as if this Jesus fella doesn’t exist, and Christians are having to do his work for him. [Sound of penny dropping]
    Hey, wait a minute, I might be on to something here!

  20. Buffy says:

    Yet they insist gay people are “recruiting” children. Talk about projection.

  21. valdemar says:

    State-funded church schools and compulsory Christian worship, and they still fail. They really are crap, aren’t they?

  22. Eric says:

    Other than the whole prayer in school thing, I don’t see anything that should be controversial. So the Church of England wants to attract young people. It should be doing that. You don’t wait to teach your faith until after someone is an adult. That’s defacto teaching atheism. The church should be involved in the community and trying to share what they believe is true. Nothing should be controversial about that.

    People who are complaining about this wouldn’t blink an eye about environmentalists coming into schools and talking. A lot of what many environmentalists say isn’t exactly portrayed with as much certainty or accuracy as they would like to pretend though. I’m certainly not saying they shouldn’t come in, but the church is going for much less and is for some reason villainized much more for it.

  23. Stonyground says:

    It has suddenly occurred to me that Christians were dead right to be afraid of Harry Potter. Children understand that Harry’s world is a fantasy and that it is not actually real, surely this makes the fantasy world of Christianity a much harder sell.

    As for the sad and increasingly desperate CofE, surely they deserve every second of their excruciatingly slow agonising death*. Let us point and laugh at them in their anguish since their latest venture is so despicable and yet still doomed to humiliating failure.

    *Especially given their crass and inhumane position on assisted suicide.

  24. Kurbster says:

    The catholic church has been running a 30 seconds TV ad ever since Thanksgiving here in the USA. At work, the ad played while I was having break. One of our oldest, most pleasant, patriotic co-workers just blurted out “They should also advertise about the all-you-can-eat kiddie buffet, too.” If my heart could cry, it would of cried tears of joy after I heard that ^^

  25. hallison says:

    LOL, Eric, children are impressionable, and yes if you get them young you will be better able to indoctrinate them. However, that is the whole point, why the need to convert them into the church’s way of thinking so young??? Let them experience all things and make their own decisions as an adult. What are you afraid of, the TRUTH?? I call most religous beliefs hand me down religion. For if you were given the choice, the fairy tales taught in church would be just that, fairy tales. It’s a business just like any other, the more participents, the more money!! They are in the business of selling their version of GOD. Isn’t time we all grew up and call a spade a spade, Jesus was a myth, a good one I might add, but still a myth and the whole Christian Religon a movement by others that didn’t even know him first hand nor did they have first hand knowledge of anything he may have said or done. NO evidence, NO witnessess, NONE. Did he exist, maybe but the evidence is surely lacking.

  26. hallison says:

    Never better than to get them young and impressionable!!

  27. jay says:

    People who are complaining about this wouldn’t blink an eye about environmentalists coming into schools and talking.

    That same thought occurred to me. It is not the ‘reaching out’ that bothers me, but I don’t think it belongs in the publix schools. There are various types of indoctrination that children go through, including the virtually useless personal rituals they are taught to ‘save the planet’.

    And many of us support active attempts to hook them on science, or music, or art…

    Though I don’t believe in the religious garbage I fully understand how they want to ‘reach out’ to youth. The important thing is that sufficient controls be in place to prevent it’s being coercive.

  28. Mariano says:

    This is merely more atheist propaganda as Richard Dawkins wonders whether there is occasion for “society stepping in” and hopes that such efforts “might lead children to choose no religion at all.” Dawkins also supports the atheist summer camp “Camp Quest.”

    Phillip Pullman states the following about his “fictional” books for children, “I don’t think I’m writing fantasy. I think I’m writing realism. My books are psychologically real.” But what does he really write about? As he has admitted, “My books are about killing God” and “I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief.”

    More evidence here:

    Yet again, atheists are collecting “amazing sums” during a time of worldwide recession not in order to help anyone in real material need but in order to attempt to demonstrate just how clever they consider themselves to be—while actually loudly, proudly and expensively demonstrating their ignorance and arrogance—need any more be said?

  29. hallison says:

    Ignorance, religion has been the root of all ignorance!! How much money have all the church’s collecting over the millenia??? Tax free I might add. The aggorance comes from religons of the world espousing to claims of truth. Let all the churches of the world open their coffers now and help the poor instead of using their riches to convert new members or wait, build new marble temples!!!!