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A centuries-old church in Germany attracted more than 1,200 people during worship services featuring music from Taylor Swift. The Church of the Holy Spirit, a well-known church in Heidelberg that meets in a 600-year-old building, recently put on a service called “Anti-Hero – Taylor Swift Church Service” in an effort to draw young people’s interest, according to Deutsche Welle. Pastor Christof Ellsiepen told the outlet, “The Church of the Holy Spirit has always been a place of encounter and exchange. That’s why a pop music religious service fits so perfectly. With it, we’re giving space to the questions and issues that occupy the younger generation.”

The service focused on the supposedly strong Christian themes in Swift’s music that address hot-button issues such as women’s rights, racism and gender equality, according to the pastor. Parish Pastor Vincenzo Petracca acknowledged that Swift has taken flak from some Evangelical faith leaders for her music, especially in the United States. “Theologically speaking, she points to the justness of God,” Petracca said, adding that Swift’s “faith knows doubt and inner conflict.” He said, “For her, faith and action are inseparable.”

Two Sunday services in the historic church featured Swift’s tunes, which DW noted were attended by an audience that skewed young and female. A rainbow banner behind the musicians noted that the church welcomes “all sizes, all [colors], all cultures, all sexes, all beliefs, all religions, all ages, all types, all people.” While noting that the church was “built for Gregorian liturgical music and not for Taylor Swift,” Petracca maintained that the response to the modern, pop-themed service moved him. “I stared into beaming faces — and during the song that Taylor wrote for her cancer-stricken mother, many had tears in their eyes,” he said, referring to the song “Soon You’ll Get Better.”

Swift’s latest album, released last month, drew criticism from some Christian critics who claimed it features lyrical content that mocks God and Christians. Shane Pruitt, who serves as National Next Gen director for the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board and co-author of Calling Out the Called, urged parents to seriously reconsider allowing their children to listen to Swift’s music. “I’m definitely not the minister or parent that has the ‘no secular music’ stance,” Pruitt wrote in a Facebook post. “Also, I fully realize unbelievers are going to act like unbelievers. HOWEVER, there is a difference between being secular and being ANTI-CHRISTIAN.”

Former Boyzone star Shane Lynch recently accused Swift of implementing hidden satanic rituals in her sold-out shows. “I think when you’re looking at a lot of the artists out there, a lot of their stage shows are satanic rituals live in front of 20,000 people without them realizing and recognizing,” Lynch told Ireland’s Sunday World. The Church of the Holy Spirit, which was built between 1398 and 1515, draws millions of tourists annually.

Heidelberg is notable in the history of Christianity for being the city where the Heidelberg Catechism was first published in 1563. The Protestant Calvinist confessional document forms the doctrinal basis for many Reformed denominations and influenced the divines who drafted the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which is foundational to Presbyterianism.

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