Thousands sign petition against Canterbury Cathedral's silent disco

The silent disco at Canterbury Cathedral.(Photo: X)

Over 2,000 people have signed a petition protesting a recent silent disco at Canterbury Cathedral. 

The cathedral was founded by St Augustine in 597 AD and remains an important centre for pilgrimage as the mother church of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was also the place of the martyrdom of English archbishop Thomas Becket. 

The silent disco featured pop music from the 90s and alcohol was on sale in the building for the event. A silent vigil was held at the same time outside the cathedral by Christian protesters.

Despite the furore, more cathedrals have signed up to host silent discos in their buildings in the coming weeks and months, including Hereford, Leeds, St Albans, Coventry, Sheffield and Manchester. In addition to a silent disco in May, Manchester Cathedral also has a Punk Rock Club night planned for 29 February.

A petition on called 'Anglican Deans, Stop turning our Great Cathedrals into Nightclubs' has been signed by 2,140 people.

It accuses cathedral deans of desecrating the sacred buildings and says that the place for silent discos is in nightclubs, not cathedrals.

It calls on Christians to voice their opposition and for deans to make their cathedral buildings a house of prayer. 

"The desecration will not stop unless we resist, with petitions and prayers, to show the clergy their errors and awaken in people's hearts a renewed reverence of our sacred places," it says. 

"We the undersigned oppose all desecration of our historic holy places, and especially their use as nightclubs. Dear Anglican Deans, please stop the discos and make the Cathedrals houses of prayer once more."

Other Christians have questioned the event. 

Christian Concern tweeted, "If Canterbury Cathedral's goal was to attract young and genuine worshipers, a silent disco was definitely not the way."

Priest and blogger Steve Kneale questioned whether there was any point to churches filling their buildings with people without any intention to share the Gospel. 

"I see no reason to believe we have accomplished anything of evangelistic worth whatsoever when we see these things," he said.

"Simply 'getting them in' is not the same as doing anything for the gospel. Simply 'getting them in' does not lead anybody nearer to Christ. In and of itself, 'getting them in' doesn't really achieve anything at all," he wrote on his blog

Vicar and commentator Rev Daniel French said, "If a silent disco in the birthplace of English Christianity elicits revulsion where, say, a theatrical performance or concert does not, this is because it's not just a secular use of a sacred space, but a parodic one: a caricature of Holy Communion." 

Christian commentator Adrian Hilton said, "The Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral deem this 'silent disco' to be an activity 'such as befit[s] the House of God' (Canon F16). I take a broad view of mission, but I think it inclines toward profanity 'inconsistent with the sanctity' (F15) of the shrine of St Thomas Becket."