June 04, 2012

Hay Festival 2012: 'Walking is the new church going', says Bishop Richard Holloway

Churches have become more like events venues than places for spiritual contemplation, according to former Bishop Richard Holloway.

Bishop Richard Holloway resigned from his lofty position in the Church partly in protest at the 'cruel' treatment of homosexuals and women. In his talk Hollway argued that 'walking is the new church going'

Holloway said the evangelical movement has made churches too noisy and people prefer to connect with God on a walk.

"Walking is the new church going for some people," he said.

The former Bishop of Edinburgh in the Scottish Episcopal Church said churches are more like events venues where people meet to play music, host talks and debate.

Speaking at the Telegraph Hay Festival, he blamed the evangelical movement for bringing too much noise into a spiritual space and said he preferred to walk his dog alone for “transcendence”.

“Churches now are too talky, they are like events venues. They have lost the ability for transcendence.”

Mr Holloway, who has left the priesthood and now describes himself as a “agnostic Christian”, also hit out at the evangelical movement for making an issue of gay people in the church in the 1990s,

Before then he claimed it was a case of ‘do not ask do not tell’.

The writer and broadcaster, who resigned from his lofty position in the Church partly in protest at the “cruel” treatment of homosexuals and women, said everyone should be given the opportunity to love.

“Evangelicals are always interested in other people’s sex lives for some reason. Its significant that. If your own is boring you are interested in other people’s…”

In conversation, with the philosopher AC Grayling, he said religion has “hijacked transcendence”.

But in fact humans can find spiritual connection through a number of mediums.

“Nothing should get in the way of human compassion, especially not religion.”

Mr Holloway, who described himself as a “Anglo-Catholic Quaker Buddhist”, said he did not expect to go to Heaven.

“I do not expect anything to happen when I die. I suppose I might be surprised – I hope not unpleasantly.”

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