What to do with all the Churches?

When I walked the West Highland Way in Scotland this summer, I couldn’t have known that it’s possible to experience one week of almost non-stop beautiful weather in Scotland. Therefore I had not brought my sleeping bag and had booked some accommodation along the way instead. One of them was the Inversnaid Bunkhouse, a lovely accommodation for hikers with very friendly staff and excellent food. The most interesting point about this hostel was that the building is an old church:

Inversnaid Hostel church

Inversnaid Hostel church 2

While enjoying dinner inside, the setting sun lit up the stained glass windows. Beautiful!

It made me think of the thousands of churches around the world who won’t be used for worship anymore, as the number of regular church-goers dwindles and Enlightenment finally takes hold, liberating people to decide for themselves what to do on Sunday. (Although the decline in Christian religiosity can’t explain the ever increasing number of Jehova Witnesses knocking on my door.)

Here are some other examples of successful conversions of these erstwhile temples of anti-Enlightenment. The natural choice is of course a bar or a pub. Religion is replaced by beer, but the concept remains the same. People go there to forget their trouble, but all they get is a headache and a hole in their wallet.



Other churches have been turned into fancy apartments, performance halls, kindergartens, pharmacies and mosques.

My favourite example is Broerenkerk in Zolle in the Netherlands, which was turned into a bookstore. Not only does this warm my heart because bookstores are the only stores in which I voluntarily spend more than 15 minutes, but to me this is also the ultimate victory of knowledge over spirituality.

Broerenkerk bookstore


About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Books, Photography, Religion, Scotland, Travel, UK and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to What to do with all the Churches?

  1. Good evening Andreas, I’ve also seen these kinds of ex-chruches in Scotland and was quite shocked and I also saw full up churches in Slovakia, where people are still much poorer than we and I’m convniced that as soon as people will be less well of financially the churches will be again full up. Nowbody knows when that will be but I would not exclude that possibility. Bye Martina

    • Maybe the causality works the other way round and people are poor BECAUSE they go to church?

    • Do you really have the impression that people’s situation has improved since they have become so called FREE, lonely and divorced? I have my doubts!

    • Of course I have that impression. Under freedom, whoever doesn’t like it, can decide not to use that freedom. Under lack of freedom, the reverse is not possible.

      And divorces make people happier. It’s a fallacy to assume that people used to be happier in their relationship before there was a right to divorce. They just didn’t have a way out of it, short of cheating on or killing their spouse.

    • To point 1: , of course,agree with how you express it but then you have to act and take decisions and should not encroach on the freedom of others. Point 2: They were probably not much happier but financially saver and didn’t have to been maintained by the state as it occurs very frequentely, at least in m world. Anyway, I’m not really for extremes. Have a good day

  2. Roa Karioun says:

    Turn some churches into art galleries, coin, currency and stamp collector’s bourses, places for people who enjoy beautify of art, literature, for cultural events, performances. Governments must make sure those churches are not remodeled in any inappropriate way and are not destroyed. Give the churches away to the right people and they will maintain them properly.

  3. Brenden says:

    Here in Madison, Wisconsin USA there is a church that has been turned into apartments (there is a craigslist ad here: http://madison.craigslist.org/apa/4214780907.html) This is a large university town. Another church is turning a centrally located old school into apartments as well but there is opposition because they are exempt from property taxes which gives them quite an advantage in the marketplace.

  4. Kavita Joshi says:

    you always post on some provoking subject…nice thought though as it stirrs the thoughts while reading such posts…

  5. dino bragoli says:

    As religion poisons everything I hope they gave the Church a good clean before preparing the food!

Please leave your comments, questions, suggestions:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s