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Warning: Evangelists at Costa Coffee
“Café Church” is the brainchild of Baptist Minister Cid Latty of Christchurch Baptist Church, Welwyn Garden City. The concept is simple - people won't go to church, so why not bring the church to the people via high street coffee chains? "The idea is to encourage those who might feel uncomfortable in a church building to worship in a more neutral environment," say the organisers.
Costa Coffee and the Gloria Jean coffee shop chain have co-operated with this scheme. I usually go to Costa's, so it'll be Starbucks for me.
I've emailed Whitbread, Costa's parent company, as follows:
I was very disappointed to learn that Christians are being allowed to proselytise at Costa Coffee shops, as part of the Cafe Church scheme.
If the church has trouble filling its pews, it's for a good reason; fewer people are interested in religion. They don't want it to intrude any further into public life.
As an atheist and Humanist, religion is irrelevant to my life. I have no problem with it, as long as religious people keep it to themselves, in their own homes or places of worship, where I can ignore it. Now that it's in my favourite coffee shop, I'll have to change my habits. It'll be Starbucks in future.
Please let me know when you change your minds and it's safe to go back to Costa Coffee.
Yours faithfully, etc.
You can email Whitbread at email@example.com.
Email to Café Church (firstname.lastname@example.org):
Thank you for letting everyone know where to avoid evangelism. I shan't be going to Costa coffee (my usual place), or anywhere else where Christianity intrudes in a public place.
The reason that church attendances are falling is that no one's interested. I doubt that the commercial interests involved with your scheme will be interested when they realise that it alienates their customers.
Email to Starbucks (email@example.com):
Just to let you know that I'll be drinking your coffee, as long as you promise to keep Café Church off the premises.
I don't want evangelism with my latte, thank you.