Press Release

Saying the Lord’s Prayer banned by council at funeral service for breaking Covid rules

14 October 2020         Issued by: Christian Concern

A celebrant has been reprimanded by a local council for allowing a grieving family to quietly recite the Lord’s Prayer during a funeral service.

Alison Davies, 53, from Bridgend, South Wales, 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.

‘You can’t do that!’

The Lord’s Prayer is the quintessential Christian prayer that Jesus taught his disciples when they asked him how they should pray.

When Mrs Davies invited mourners to recite the prayer, one of the 15 socially distanced family members stood up.

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 Welsh government guidelines.

“He was pointing his finger at me saying ‘you can’t do that!” Mrs Davies said. “It was intimidating, humiliating and I was upset as I have been doing everything possible to follow the covid guidelines while also supporting grieving families.

“What is the world coming to when families grieving loved ones cannot say the Lord’s Prayer as they say goodbye?

“The rules and guidelines are effecting families who are grieving as they are not allowed to sing hymns; they cannot go near the coffin once it is inside the chapel and now they cannot not even say a prayer together.”

‘Only one person can say Lord’s prayer’

Following the incident a Bridgend Council spokesman said it ‘believed prayer to constitute chanting’ under the Welsh Government’s coronavirus legislation.

‘We appreciate the Lord’s Prayer is of great comfort to many of those attending services and we are sorry if our actions caused any upset,’ he said.

‘We ensured at no point was the service interrupted, only gently informing the member of clergy as they left the chapel that next time, the Lord’s Prayer can only be read out by one individual.’

The Welsh Government said praying in a ‘low tone’ does not breach the rules and it called on venues to ‘use common sense’ when applying the law.

‘While chanting is restricted in funerals, speaking in a low tone to pray would not be considered against the guidance,’ a Government spokeswoman said.

‘There is no ban’

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, who are supporting Mrs Davies, said: “There is no 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.

“Our attempts to fight the coronavirus must not come at the expense of our humanity.”

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