We've got to do something. All over the country, the worship activities of our most important church-members are being ruined.
Children can cause dreadful distraction to organised worship. The sounds of their hard-soled shoes clattering round on ancient stone floors can be deafening. Their chatter during important items of services can be very distracting. They have a low tolerance of long sermons, and are liable, if the preacher goes on too long, to start pushing hymn books off the shelves. This will often wake up senior members of the congregation.
Moving at high speed as they do, they're also a bit of a fire hazard. Any church that has a tea light at (to regular members of a congregation) waist height, is simply asking for small children, should they be tearing around the place, to go up in smoke. This same high-velocity venturing can also be bad news for servers, stewards and minor subdeacons in the performance of their Sunday activities - involving, as these mostly do, standing around and looking holy. It is much harder to look holy when a small missile has just crashed into your midriff, on the pretext that their favourite red Angry Bird is in a hurry.
It would not be so bad if children simply went out to the school room, with the exciting pictures of a blond Jesus in a night shirt with bunnies and fawns around him, and sat out there. We realise that for some reason there's generally fewer kids in our services than there used to be - but still, surely somebody ought to be able to spare 5 hours' preparation each week in the hope that more than two children will appear of a Sunday morning? If not a retired teacher - always the best bet, as they have probably missed it all these years - then why not the children's mums?
Or at least if they'd sit in their corner at the back of the church, with the old Action men and Fuzzy Felt, and just play quietly. But instead they will insist on interacting with people. Talking to those who come to church to be alone with God. Smearing memorials with the jam that somehow is still attached to them after their breakfasts. Randomly falling over during the Agnes Dei. Generally making themselves the centre of attention, and paying no heed, no matter how many hard stares and tuts are aimed at their parents.
And they've no concept of holiness. Any sensible adult, knowing how important the altar is, will immediately ensure the gate on the altar rail (Methodists please ignore this section) is closed. That way nobody can get near the holy place. And rightly so. Except the kids, who seem to think holiness is a kind of attractive quality like magnetism, and are able to do the limbo under the rail. I tell you, it's enough to make you tear a veil in two.
And then babies. Now babies are the worst. It's bad enough they come for their own baptisms.But through their baptisms they attract worse even than babies - suddenly the church is invaded by people who know nothing about Christianity. Some of these people have never been to church in their lives. Yet in they stroll, not knowing the hymns or when to sit down. Some even daring to turn up unable to read, so not capable of joining in the simplest 17th Century christening liturgy. If the hipper vicars are as good at technology as they claim, why aren't they doing christenings by Skype? And babies are like catnip to slightly older kids, who charge up to the font, messing up people's best outfits and grabbing the vicar's sleeves when she's trying to do her best "holy yet still attractive" look for the pictures.
And then babies are worse even than the people they attract. Randomly crying because the church is cold. Unable to walk, so their mothers have to carry them out themselves - you'll notice the fathers normally have the sense to stay at home. And some mothers are so brazen they'll keep a crying child in the service to try and calm it down - even on sunny days. And some have even been known to breastfeed their children. What sort of behaviour is that? In front of the statue of the Virgin Mary and everything.
Yep. Everybody's experience of church is being ruined by the selfish few.