Post-Apocalyptic Churches

The science fiction site IO9 posted some photos altered by a Russian artist to depict post-apocalyptic scenes. Several of them are very striking. This one, however, particularly caught my attention:

I suspect that churches that remained standing after an apocalypse would take on new or renewed significance – not necessarily in a manner that was typical of what went on their previously.

That is, after all, something of what we see going on at this very moment in Indiana and other places ravaged by tornadoes.

From a sci-fi perspective and interest, what would you imagine the role might be, in a post-apocalyptic world, of religion and the buildings associated with it?

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  • Verifieddatᾱ

    It looks like a Roman Catholic Church to me with all the materialistic aspects of it. Although, if that is the case it will be short-lived as a church, as what will be left from the population will be the doomed and lost souls. So, it will be more like a correctional facility in its practice. From a Sci-Fi perspective I would think that it would actually be filled with people looking for refuge, or if it’s a protestant Church it would be also, in addition, full of people waiting for the rapture operation mentioned in the book of Revelations.

  • Geoff Cater

    Churches tend to be large and hard to heat, in addition, they use complex architectural systems that are difficult to maintain, and are thus probably best avoided in a post- apocalyptic world. 
    They also contain priests and similar, not usually individuals blessed with the useful practical skills that might required for survival.

  • VorJack

    I agree with Geoff about the practical problems of a church.  However, churches are frequently the most noticeable buildings in the region.  They are already the focus of a community.  They have plenty of unpartitioned space  for storage or emergency dwelling.  They tend to be slightly raised, giving them an advantage during flooding.  They might also be easier to defend, with only a few entrances and one large main entrance with a heavy door (on most churches I’ve dealt with).

    All-in-all, I think that churches would likely become community centers, useful as meeting places and rally points.  Churches in medieval times tended to be the central building of the town, where everyone meets to do business or just hang out and chat.  I understand that mosques play that role today in many muslim communities.  All that and they’d continue to be worship centers, of course.

  • Ian

    We can look at the role of churches in disaster areas. The Indian ocean tsunami was an apocalypse for those communities affected, places of worship often were the most solid buildings and therefore the best preserved. But as far as I could tell reading Newsweek et al at the time, there wasn’t enough in the surrounding towns to support the population, so the population migrated out to seek help. I suspect the same would occur in the zombie apocalypse. Round here I’d head for the big castles. Defensible, and plenty of internal space to grow stuff or corral sheep.

    Thinking of this reminded me of my favorite Larkin poem: