Press Release

Lord’s prayer no longer banned after council U-turn

15 October 2020         Issued by: Christian Concern

The crematorium that banned mourners from saying the Lord’s Prayer together has U-turned after coronavirus rules were ‘clarified’.

Alison Davies, 53, from Bridgend, South Wales, who has been supported by the Christian Legal Centre, was left in tears after she was told she was breaking Welsh government covid rules for allowing ‘chanting’ during a funeral she was conducting at Coychurch Crematorium.

Mrs Davies said the family of a 94-year-old grandmother whose funeral she was conducting this week had asked her to end the service with the Lord’s Prayer.

Just as the funeral service finished, in front of mourners in the Christian chapel, Mrs Davies was approached by a Bridgend council official wearing a mask and blue surgical gloves telling her she had broken guidelines.

The official aggressively pointed their finger at Mrs Davies exclaiming: “you can’t do that!”

The story broke in the media and sparked outrage across the country leading to the Welsh government clarifying that praying in a ‘low tone’ doesn’t breach coronavirus rules.

In response, in a statement released today, Councillor Richard Young, Bridgend County Borough Council’s cabinet member for communities, confirmed that reciting of the Lord’s Prayer is now allowed and said that they “were previously not aware that these regulations were open to interpretation.”

The heads of council-run Coychurch Crematorium, in Bridgend, South Wales, had claimed that if more than one person prayed then it counted as ‘chanting’ and wasn’t allowed.

Councillor Young said: “We were very surprised to see the Welsh Government’s media response contradicting our approach.

“We very much welcome the additional clarity, which now permits a number of people to pray out loud at the same time.”

Responding to the U-turn, Mrs Davies said: “I am glad that mourners will now be allowed to get the comfort they need by saying the Lord’s Prayer together.

“It was all very unprofessional and could have been handled so differently. I hope it serves as a warning to other council’s and crematoriums that the wishes of those who are mourning at this time should not be taken away and restricted unnecessarily.

“The Lord’s Prayer is very comforting to many, whether you are a Christian or not.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, who advised Mrs Davies on what the law and coronavirus regulations say on this issue, said: “We welcome this U-turn from the council and are glad that common sense has prevailed.

“There has never been a ban on saying prayers together at a low volume, as the Welsh government has made clear.

“Those with responsibilities for churches, crematoriums and chapels need to know what the law really says and apply it with common sense and compassion. Unnecessary interventions and confrontations like this hurt the grieving process and cannot be undone.

“This story serves as a strong reminder to all of us that attempts to fight the coronavirus must not come at the expense of our humanity.”

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