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

15 October 2020

A funeral celebrant was reprimanded earlier this week by a local council for allowing a grieving family to quietly recite the Lord’s Prayer during a funeral service. Now, following a U-turn from the council, the crematorium has once again been allowed to permit mourners to say the Lord’s prayer after coronavirus regulations were ‘clarified’.

Alison Davies, 53, from Bridgend, South Wales, was left in tears after she was told she was breaking Welsh government covid rules for allowing so-called ‘chanting’ during a funeral service she was conducting at Coychurch Crematorium.

Now, thanks to support from the Christian Legal Centre, she is free to lead mourners in reciting the Lord’s Prayer at funerals.

In a statement released today, Councillor Richard Young, Bridgend County Borough Council’s cabinet member for communities, confirmed that reciting 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 had claimed that if more than one person prayed, then it counted as ‘chanting’ and wasn’t allowed.

Finishing with the Lord’s Prayer

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 tell her that she had broken the guidelines. Mrs Davies claims the official aggressively pointed his finger at her, exclaiming, “you can’t do that!”

The story broke in the media and sparked outrage across the country, leading the Welsh government to clarify that praying in a ‘low tone’ does not breach coronavirus rules.

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.”

Mourners allowed to be comforted

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 councils 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, which advised Mrs Davies on what the law and coronavirus regulations say on this issue, commented:

“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 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.

“The 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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