In the face of a further dramatic decline in the numbers of those identifying themselves as ‘Church of England’ (1.7 million between 2012 and 2014 alone) the millionaire impresario, Andrew Lloyd-Webber has launched a new campaign to save it for the nation.
Lloyd-Webber was joined by veteran naturalist and broadcaster, David Attenborough, at a grand gala launch at the Dorchester of SOAH (Save Our Anglican Heritage). ‘It is estimated that fewer than a third of all remaining clergy believes that Jesus rose from the dead, and only a fraction of those has heard of the Athanasian Creed,’ said Attenborough. ‘With their breeding grounds now in the hands of their natural predators, it is hard to see how believing clergy can survive more than a generation.’
‘Things have reached a stage where we cannot expect to achieve more than a holding operation. But your concern and generosity could still save this charming species – with its choral music, its limp-wristed vicars, and its curates’ eggs. From Cluedo, to Miss Marple to Midsomer Murders, the CofE has, after all, been part of the rich tapestry of English entertainment (which, alas, is as close now as most of the population gets). It would be a tragedy to allow a colourful part of our nation’s heritage to dwindle beyond recall’.
‘I have long been concerned with the preservation of Church buildings,’ said Lloyd-Webber, ‘the time has come to preserve what goes on in them’.
‘To be frank’, said Attenborough, ‘we are dealing here with a phenomenon hitherto un-encountered in the natural world: the death by suicide of an entire species. For decades Anglicans have been self-harming, in the strange delusion that they were ensuring their own survival.’
‘I am calling on all cultured people, atheists, agnostics or just plain ordinary English women and men,’ said Lord Lloyd-Webber, ‘to preserve this once prolific species before, as so many ancient peoples have done – the Indian tribes of N America, the Incas, the Mexica – it simply withers away. Perhaps you do not share my view that Anglicanism, like the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites, may yet make a come back; but I think we can all agree that to leave it in the hands of its own clergy would be a disaster’.
[There are now nearly a million more Muslims than Anglicans in the UK – Ed.]