While Hawthorne almost never attended church, in this passage he claims the central--even holy--importance of a church in a community.
Was it worth while to rear this massive edifice, to be a desert in
the heart of the town, and populous only for a few hours of each seventh day?
Oh! but the church is a symbol of religion. May its site, which was consecrated
on the day when the first tree was felled, be kept holy forever, a spot of solitude
and peace, amid the trouble and vanity of our week-day world! There is a moral,
and a religion too, even in the silent walls. And, may the steeple still point
heavenward, and be decked with the hallowed sunshine of the Sabbath morn!