Now, in its latest attempt to raise standards in the Church of England, the Department for Religion has announced the formation of a new body, OfGod. The random arrival of OfGod is expected to cause as much concern as Ofsted turning up at a school - or the Spanish Inquisition arriving unexpectedly with a comfy chair.
The OfGod inspection will cover all aspects of Church life, in an attempt to ensure that all churches are above average by the year 2020. Churches will be rated by their achievements in specific areas:
- Community activities.
- Quality of preaching.
- Successful evangelism.
- Old Etonian vicars.
- Making irregular attenders feel gently reassured by the thought that, even if they never actually shove their noses through the church hatch, nevertheless somebody, somewhere is praying in a non-judgemental, English kind of way.
- Setting up foodbanks cheerfully and without complaint.
- High-quality music.
- Market penetration of the Church magazine.
- Members leading quiet lives and not getting involved in dangerous criminal activity, dangerous drinking, or political activism.
- Rate of baptisms and weddings (taking into account the demographics of the parish).
- Property maintenance.
- Getting curates into the "Talent Pool"
- Keeping down the rate of funerals by encouraging healthy lifestyles.
- A balanced syllabus. Rather than specialising in Evangelicalism or Anglo-Catholicism, churches will be expected to offer a broadly-based mixture of all forms of Christian worship. Ideally, for instance, a Church that offers High Mass on one Sunday will have worship led by a bunch of thrash-metalheads from Lithuania the next.
- Equal opportunities for people to get married, regardless of sexual orientation, prior marital status or religion.
- Saying nice things about the Government.
- Inventive use of Social Media (to advertise cake sales, not to complain about the Bedroom Tax).
- Encouraging an "In" vote in the EU referendum.
- Culturally sensitive celebration of religious festivals. e.g. not getting all shouty about Jesus being alive at Easter.
- Vicar being able to tell the difference between a small nun and a large penguin.
- Giving spiritual sustenance, but not encouraging energy-wasting resentment or disruptive political protest, when the village post office closes or the bus service is wound down.
- A 10% "Pulpit Premium" for prolific preaching.
- Equal-opportunities promotion of all religions equally.
- Productivity assessment for number of fetes.
- Vicar riding around on a bike.
- Stressing that Jesus in Egypt was not a migrant - he was an ex-pat.
- Cherubic infants singing around a manger on Christmas Eve.
- Not complaining about the need for food banks.
- Quality of the biscuits.
- Managing the churchyard to encourage all the wildlife that's been killed by the farmers using neonicotinoid pesticides after applying to Defra for exemption from the EU ban.
|St Ambrosia's was put in special measures|
for the holly deeemed offensive to pagans.
The Department of Religion was this evening refusing to spell out what sanctions might be applied to failing churches. They refused to confirm or deny a claim that churches in special measures might be taken over by Holy Trinity Brompton.