Worship is safe! Faith leaders call for government to u-turn on ban

3 November 2020

The leaders of several religious groups have called on the Prime Minister not to ban worship services during the November lockdown in England.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York (Church of England), the Archbishop of Westminster (Roman Catholic) and religious leaders of Muslims, Jews and Hindus are amongst the signatories to the letter.

The letter gives several reasons that the decision to ban public worship should be reversed:

  • Public Worship is covid-19 secure
  • Public Worship is Essential to sustain our service
  • Public Worship is necessary for social cohesion and
  • Public Worship is important for the Mental Health of our
  • Public Worship is an essential sign of hope

The letter concludes:

We have already said there is no scientific rationale for suspension of Public Worship where it is compliant with the guidance that we have worked jointly with government to establish.

We believe government, and Public Health England, accept this. Government is making decisions about what aspects of our life during this period of restrictions are essential. We believe we have demonstrated that continuation of public worship is essential, for all the reasons we have set out above.

We call on government to recognise and support this, and enable us to continue to worship safely, as part of the essential fabric of the nation.

Church worship is safe

The letter tantalisingly suggests that the government – and Public Health England – accept that church worship is Covid safe. All of our experience since July points to this being true. To the best of our knowledge, no evidence has been provided of a single outbreak at any church service that has abided by the current measures.

An informal poll of over 250 churches taken by FIEC leader John Stevens yesterday saw 0% reporting known transmission of the coronavirus at a church service.

It’s truly remarkable that the government would press ahead with a ban on worship services, interfering with freedom of religion, with absolutely no evidence that they spread the virus.

Over 1,000 church ministers sign letter to Prime Minister

A second letter opposing the ban on public worship has been signed by over 1,000 church leaders in only three hours.

Written by Dave Gobbett, Matthew Roberts, Graham Nicholls and David Johnston, some of whom have are backing a legal challenge of the government’s plans, the letter says:

“…Therefore, churches have gone to great lengths to ensure that worship need not be suspended again. Thorough Covid-secure measures have been put in place. As a result, attending church now presents a very low risk indeed of transmitting the virus, far lower than many of the activities which are to remain open during this next lockdown. We fully support the aim of the government to protect the nation from harm. We have consistently urged those in our churches to abide by the law and have rigorously done so ourselves.

Therefore we are baffled and dismayed to find that your government plans now to close places of worship except for private prayer, and thus to prohibit Christians from assembling to worship. We are baffled because there is, to our knowledge, no evidence of any significant contribution to community transmission through churches…”

Will the government u-turn?

Christians have been writing to their MPs asking them to oppose the public worship ban. Many of the replies from MPs have shown clear opposition to the move. Will the Prime Minister have the courage and humility to change his plans?

If not, the legal challenge Christian Concern is leading will likely gain widespread support. Similar actions in the United States, France and Germany have shown worship bans to be unconstitutional. With the government unable to provide any evidence that church worship services transmit the virus, there seems to be a very good chance that the legal action will be successful.

This Sunday, some churches will voluntarily close. Many – if the ban goes ahead – will obey the order with heavy hearts.

But I expect that some will meet in any case, knowing that they are safe and ready to worship Jesus whatever the consequences. Let’s pray that the Prime Minister listens to sense, changes his mind and avoids this unnecessary conflict.

Find out more about Church lockdown
  • Share

Related articles

All content has been loaded.

Take action

Join our email list to receive the latest updates for prayer and action.

Find out more about the legal support we're giving Christians.

Help us put the hope of Jesus at the heart of society.