When Churches Fall: What Should We Do?

This week saw far more than one church fall down. While the world is still in shock over the fire at Notre Dame, the Easter weekend saw multiple other churches tumble down too. The cause this time: bombs.

Here’s the interesting fact: while millions—almost billions—of dollars were almost immediately pledged for the rebuilding of Notre Dame, the same can’t be said for the churches in Sri Lanka.

Is this fair?

Notre Dame

It’s understandable that a nation is in shock and even in mourning about the destruction that took place after a fire engulfed the famous cathedral. Notre Dame is an iconic building in France and probably even more famous than the Eiffel Tower. After all, it has been in existence since the 12th century and it’s not only beloved by French citizens but by people across the globe.

It may come as no surprise then that almost €1 Billion was promised within the first few days after the fire. The donations came from well known public figures such as Bernard Arnault and the Bettencourt Meyers family members.

But should the cathedral’s reconstruction be a priority?

Sri Lanka

In another part of the globe, Easter weekend celebrations resulted in over 200 people being killed after bombs exploded in churches in Sri Lanka. Both churches and hotels were targeted and, apart from those who died, around 450 people were injured.

The attacks took place in different parts of the country, namely Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa. There were eight sites affected in total. Although arrests have been made, no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The victims are locals, people who traveled to larger cities for the Easter services as well as tourists and foreigners.

Why Do We Support Places and Not People?

In the one scenario, there is extensive damage to property but in terms of people the worst scenario is probably firefighters who were injured on the job. Quick responses even led to most artifacts and church treasures being rescued before the flames could engulf them. That is actually a positive outcome in comparison to what could have been lost.

In Sri Lanka numerous families have been affected by the explosions. They will face emotional pain in the months to come as they deal with the loss of their loved ones. The churches may not have the funds to rebuild their structures or even the means of assisting the families who lost their breadwinners in the bombings.

The question is: where will billions of dollars, donated to the church, have the best impact on lives? Is it worth repairing a building simply to have tourists visit it again? Even though it has sentimental value for believers, shouldn’t people’s lives or churches without access to a lot of funding also benefit from compassionate donations?

Even without comparing the churches’ predicaments it should be questioned whether a large amount of money is best used for this building called Notre Dame. France currently faces excessive conflict relating to wage disputes. Many of those who battle to make ends meet may wonder why there’s money in the world for an inanimate object like a building, but not for people who live, breathe and go hungry.