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Friday, April 16, 1999 Published at 00:39 GMT 01:39 UK


'Support for Christianity on Millennium Eve'

Church leaders want a religious element to the Dome celebrations

By Religious Affairs Correspondent Alex Kirby

The Church of England says there is strong public support for a specifically Christian element in the New Year's Eve celebrations at the Millennium Dome.

The BBC's Religious Affairs Correspondent Alex Kirby: "Church leaders believe there is a hunger for a Christian component"
It says that an opinion poll it commissioned revealed that 68% of people planning to watch the proceedings on television were in favour of an explicitly Christian component.

The poll, conducted by NOP, involved a sample of 1,003 people.

Church leaders believe the poll results support their own belief that there is a hunger among viewers for a specifically Christian element at the dome.

They now feel they are winning the battle to stamp the millennium with their image.

Church of England spokesman the Rev Dr William Beaver said: "These findings strongly support the view that the public see Christianity as a key to the millennium, and want that reality properly reflected and observed in events at the dome on New Year's Eve."

[ image: Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey wants prayers to mark the New Year]
Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey wants prayers to mark the New Year
The churches have agreed to a resolution designed to speak to people of all faiths and of none, but they want more.

And they believe that the broadcasting organisations and the New Millennium Experience Company, responsible for New Year's Eve and the dome, are reluctant to give Christianity a prominent voice.

The Archbishop of Canterbury wants a moment for Christian reflection and one or two prayers, and if he fails to get this he will probably stay away.

Cardinal Basil Hume, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, has also said the Archbishop should lead the nation in prayer before midnight strikes.

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