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Churches for Sale or Rent

Churches for Sale or Rent

Publication: Hinduism Today
Date: January / February / March 2003

Introduction: Christians find themselves with a surplus

Hindus in India are astounded when they hear that one or another temple in America or England has bought or rented an unused Christian church. The Church of England has so many unused facilities that they have a web site, http://england.anglican.org/rcsale/redchhome.html, to solicit "successful and sympathetic conversions of and uses for redundant church buildings." Since the 1960s, the Church has put to new use about 1,500 buildings, and has a fairly constant listing of 20 to 25 more available each year.

While the site lists "places of worship for other Christian bodies" as the first "suitable new use," several have been turned into Hindu temples. They include the Shri Sanatan Mandir in Leicester and the Sanatan Deevya Mandal in Bristol. In the US, the Ganesha Temple in Flushing, New York, was begun in a church, later torn down to build a traditional temple. Such conversions of use have a distinct advantage to Hindus because religious services are already an "established use" under zoning regulations, avoiding the often very lengthy process of obtaining new zoning permission. But-most of the buildings currently listed on the Church of England's site have a distinct disadvantage for Hindus-they are surrounded by graveyards, something put as far from a temple as possible in India.

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