Silent Night Is Getting Louder
Byline: STEVE DOUGHTY
CAROL service congregations are thriving as the population embraces traditional ways of celebrating Christmas, the Church of England said yesterday.
The figures have cheered those concerned at the growing secularisation of Christmas in society.
According to the Church, attendances on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day last year were up by 6 per cent to nearly 2.8million.
Officials say worshippers in cathedrals over the two days have risen by more than a quarter since the Millennium.
And opinion polls show that 43 per cent of the population expect to attend a church service of some kind during this year's festive period - up from 33 per cent in 2001.
The swelling congregations have given heart to Christians faced with a tendency from both state and commercial organisations to drain religious significance from Christmas and turn it into a politically correct holiday.
CofE head of statistics, the Reverend Lynda Barley, said: 'This encouraging news shows that churches across the country continue to be in touch with their local communities at this key time of year.
'The increasing popularity of carol, nativity and other services underlines the evident importance of this Christian festival in the lifeblood of the nation.' The figures follow pleas from faith leaders for politicians and businesses to leave Christmas alone.
This month the heads of the Christian Muslim Forum, Anglican Bishop of Bolton David Gillett and Islamic cleric Dr Ataullah Siddiqui, called for an end to censorship of the religious
meaning of Christmas. …