16 April 1999
Over two-thirds of people who plan to watch the millennium celebrations at the Dome on television on New Year's Eve believe there should be a specifically Christian element in the proceedings, according to new research on behalf of the Church of England out today. Broadcasters hope the total domestic audience will run into tens of millions.
A poll conducted by NOP reveals that 68 % of those likely to be watching television support the idea of a distinctly Christian component.
Overall, among the poll sample of 1003 people, nearly six out of ten (58 %) supported a Christian moment of reflection. 37% felt there should not be. 5% expressed no opinion.
Of those aged 55 and above (traditionally a high percentage of the New Year's Eve television audience), more than three out of every four (76 %) felt there should be a moment of Christian reflection.
The Revd Dr William Beaver, Director of Communications for the Church of England says: "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."
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, has made clear his own priorities, indicating that unless there is a clear Christian component, including prayer, he would be unlikely to accept an invitation to attend.
The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Basil Hume, also called for the Archbishop of Canterbury to lead the nation in prayer before midnight.
The Churches have given their backing to an inclusive Millennium Resolution, but discussions continue with officials from the New Millennium Experience Company - the organisation set up by government to oversee the New Year's Eve celebration at the Dome- about the exact form of any specifically Christian element to the proceedings.
Contact: William Beaver, 0171 898 1000 or 0374 800 212
Lesley Perry, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Secretary for Media,
0171 282 8282