(The Critic) Tim Dawson–More human than the humanists: Church attendance is on the rise among non-Christian, non-believing millennials

Evensong at Manchester Cathedral attracts a disparate crowd. There are people you wouldn’t expect, like a young mother, all blonde highlights and dry shampoo. Several older couples. A younger man, in jeans and a tweed jacket, with a rucksack at his feet. The air smells mildly of disinfectant, and I look around, as writers do, avoiding eye contact and making mental notes.

The cathedral is old and beautiful, a brooding mass of stone and slab, arch and point. It sits, a great Gothic hulk, amongst the gleam of modern Manchester, not far from Victoria station. It is a landmark and, during the pandemic, provided somewhere to head during my long and pointless lockdown-busting walks around the anaesthetised city. Naturally, I started going in. The epic space and the vast, numinal nave roof called me back.

I am one of many Millennials who, if not reconnecting with Christianity, are disconnecting from the brutal nihilism of the modern world. Church attendance amongst the under 40s is on the rise. A good chunk of those young men and women don’t even describe themselves as believers. Belief, I think, is almost irrelevant. Twitter and the twenty-four hour news-cycle is no place for a creature with a soul.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Young Adults