Extra cash could be in-spiring

PUBLISHED: 12:16 16 March 2007 | UPDATED: 22:39 28 May 2010

Over the years I ve developed the view that the Church of England is in a state of perpetual crisis as it struggles to come to terms with the demands of the modern world. This week s furore over mobile phone masts on church steeples seems to confirm my vi

Over the years I've developed the view that the Church of England is in a state of perpetual crisis as it struggles to come to terms with the demands of the modern world.

This week's furore over mobile phone masts on church steeples seems to confirm my view.

In these days of diminishing returns from the collection plate, the masts bring in many thousands of pounds to our churches. But the masts could be consigned to history. Their fate hangs on the outcome of a test case before the church's highest court.

The problem is that these masts can be used to relay pornography.

The question the court has to answer is: Are the churches "wrong in law" to facilitate transmission of pornography, even if only in a very modest way?

The test case has been brought by Chelmsford diocese, where an application for a mast was rejected by the diocese's ecclesiastical 'judge'.

For some the existence of these masts will be reminiscent of the Biblical tale of the money lenders in the temple. Yet there must be a clear-minded majority who realise the church needs to maximise its assets and pay its way.

While acknowledging there are limits to what the church should turn its hand to, it must be said that one of its assets is its large collection of tall buildings, which are ideal for radio masts.

There is nothing unsavoury about a radio mast. It is a facility that helps us get by in a hectic world. It is inevitable some people misuse the airwaves transmitted by these masts. But most do not. To get rid of them because of potential misuse seems pretty close to getting rid of congregations in case some members might get involved in activities not be in keeping with the church's squeaky-clean image.

However, there are positive thinkers in the Church of England, which will soon issue guidelines to parishes recommending that churches across the country are used as post offices - paying out pensions and selling stamps in villages where post offices have been withdrawn.

We all know stamps can be used to send pornography through the mail, but that is not the point. The issue here, as it is with masts on steeples, is helping society and earning some cash in return.

Let's hope the positive thinkers eventually hold sway - for the benefit of us all.

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