Some called it the “Rave at the Nave,” but others use terms like “sacrilege” to describe two ’90s-themed silent discos held at one of the United Kingdom’s oldest cathedrals.
The beautiful interior of Canterbury Cathedral looked more like a vintage ’90s-era nightclub than a revered place of worship on Thursday night. Dozens of revelers jumped up and down with glow sticks while listening to beats on their headphones.
One of Britain’s most sacred Christian places of worship, Canterbury Cathedral is being hired out for raves and silent discos. pic.twitter.com/zYpCjDlret
— Oli London (@OliLondonTV) February 9, 2024
Canterbury Cathedral, where St Thomas Becket was martyred just next to the nave, is hosting a “90s Silent Disco” over two nights Feb. 8-9. 3,000 people expected to take part. Faithful are protesting against the event with prayer vigils outside @CburyCathedral pic.twitter.com/wFwsUMALsD
— Edward Pentin (@EdwardPentin) February 9, 2024
Canterbury Cathedral is one of the oldest and most revered houses of worship in all of Christianity. Founded in 597 CE, the church is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the senior bishop of the Church of England and principal leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Given the cathedral’s historic and modern place of importance, The Dean of Canterbury, the Very Reverend Dr. David Monteith, assured the public that the disco was “categorically not a ‘rave in the nave,’” and would be “appropriate to and respectful of the cathedral.”
These assurances did not reassure the faithful protesting outside the cathedral on Thursday or the others who signed a petition to stop the event.
According to the petition, which as of Friday had garnered 1,779 signatures, the disco will have the opposite effect of bringing young people to the church.
“It will not bring young people closer to Christ, rather it will send the message that Christ and His Church, and all the truth, beauty and goodness it has to offer, are unimportant,” the petition read. “That entertainment deserves our attention more than God. That Christians do not take their faith or their holy places seriously.
“That Christianity is a lame joke.”
The disco also brought a rebuke from Father Calvin Robinson, a priest and outspoken critic of the Church of England’s leftward lunge.
The Church of England is not even pretending anymore. https://t.co/6YUKGlv6ej
— Fr Calvin Robinson (@calvinrobinson) February 9, 2024
Appeals to the history and sanctity of the cathedral did not sway church leadership, who insisted that the revelers be allowed to discover Canterbury “on their own terms.”
“Whether people choose to come to Canterbury Cathedral primarily as worshippers, sightseers, or attendees at our events … it’s always joyous to see them discover this incredible place anew and on their own terms,” Monteith added.
Canterbury Cathedral will host the second of the two silent discos on Friday night.