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STARTLING CONTRAST: London religious observances show Mosque packed, churches sparse and almost empty

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 30th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Startling photographs in East London show two Christian churches with sparse to no attendance, while the worshipers at a Muslim Mosque spill well into the parking lot. Three acts of worship performed there within a few hundred yards of each other at the end of last month depict many Islamic faithful - and churches where the Christian members fail to show up.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Two of the photos show Sunday morning services in the churches of St. George-in-the-East on Cannon Street Road and St. Mary's on Cable Street. The third shows worshippers gathered for Friday midday prayers outside the nearby mosque on the Brune Street Estate in Spitalfields.

At St. George's, some 12 people have congregated to celebrate Holy Communion, in a church designed to seat 1,230.

Numbers are similar at St Mary's, opened in October 1849. Able to host a congregation of 1,000, the worshippers that day only totaled 20.

The Brune Street Estate mosque has the opposite problem with overcrowding. The mosque itself is little more than a small room rented in a community center, and it can hold only 100.

On Fridays, those numbers swell to three to four times the room's capacity, so the worshippers spill out onto the street, where they take up around the same amount of space as the size of the near-empty St. Mary's down the road.

These photos suggest that Christianity in the United Kingdom is becoming a religion of the past, and Islam is one of the future. There has been a decrease in people in England and Wales identifying as Christian, from 71.7 percent to 59.3 percent of the population.

In the same period the number of Muslims in England and Wales has risen from 3 percent of the population to 4.8 percent - 2.7 million people.

Whereas a half of British Muslims are under 25, almost a quarter of Christians are approaching their eighth decade - suggesting that those of the Christian faith are well on their way to dying out.

It is estimated that in just 20 years, there will be more active Muslims in this country than churchgoers - an idea which even half a century ago would have been unthinkable.

It's feared that Christianity faces a permanent decline in Britain, its increasingly empty churches a monument to those centuries when the teachings of Christ governed the thoughts and deeds of the masses.

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