Culture

Churches should all have Wi-Fi, says the man behind 'Cats'

Andrew Lloyd Webber, who brought many a Broadway hit into the world, believes that Wi-Fi would allow business to be conducted in God's house.

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Does every church need Wi-Fi to build up its community? Hoosier Tim's Travel Videos/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

God and science have been warily eying each other lately, and it's surely difficult to divine whether detente of one sort or another might be forthcoming.

How might this impact the relative lack of enthusiasm for churchgoing in some countries?

There are places, you see, where houses of God have ceased to be the centers of attraction they once were. Somehow, the excitement faded. People preferred alternative concepts such as lying in bed and brunch.

However, one theater impresario believes that churches should find a technological way to attract the crowds. Andrew Lloyd Webber, the brains and talent behind many Broadway musicals, including "Cats," believes that every church in England should have Wi-Fi.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, he said: "Once you do that, the church becomes the center of the community again."

It's true that Starbucks has been very successful in using Wi-Fi to suck people into its bosom. However, is it truly appropriate to have Wi-Fi-enabled churches? Why, recently, an Italian priest decided to put a cell phone jammer inside his church, because he was fed up with congregants using their phones during services. (Yes, even funerals.)

One in 5 Americans is said to use a cell phone in church. What if every church was filled with people staring down at their iPad, rather than up to the heavens?

Oddly enough, Lloyd Webber isn't so much thinking about church services. Instead, he explained that churches "should go back to the medieval tradition, which is that the nave of the church is always used for local business."

It's a fascinating thought. Why throw out the money lenders, when you can get them to attract people to your church? Why not accept that lucre drives everything these days, so if you get people into a house of worship, perhaps you can at least influence them spiritually?

The current pope has shown that understanding real people's moods and motivations goes quite a long way toward making them feel as if religion still has a role in their lives.

Can Wi-Fi help churches again become the center of community spirit? Perhaps. Moreover, if church naves are used for business, surely the clergy will be asking for a little rental income from the business types.