Church worship ban a colossal mistake
• Announcement of an end to lockdown on places of worship in England welcomed by leading Christian group.
• Christian Institute Director: “What we need now is an assurance that the Government will never shut churches again.”
• The Institute is supported by over 5,200 churches.
• It previously criticised the Government for including churches in the lockdown whilst allowing garden centres and universities to open.
The Christian Institute welcomes the Government’s decision to end the controversial lockdown on places of worship in England.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said today:
“We are delighted and relieved that churches will be able to re-open from 2 December.
“Church closures led many Christians to contact their MP. Today’s announcement is long overdue. What we need now is an assurance that the Government will never shut churches again.
“Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty admitted the Government did not have good evidence to justify the forced closure of churches. Some 1,500 church ministers co-signed a letter calling for an end to the ban, and the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church and other religious leaders spoke out. Many Christians contacted politicians and scores of MPs criticised the decision in Parliament.
“In the second lockdown ministers seemed to believe that opening gardening centres was ‘worth the risk’ but opening churches was not. This sent a very damaging signal about their view of the place of the Christian faith in our national life. Public worship has not been suspended since before Magna Carta. Since then, through plagues and the Blitz, churches have remained resolutely open.
“We recognise the huge pressure the Government has been under with the COVID pandemic, but their actions have focussed on meeting people’s health and economic needs. Vitally important though these are, people are not merely material beings. As Jesus said, “man does not live by bread alone”.
“Many have been experiencing fear and isolation. But spiritual needs have been side-lined. Churches have been closed at the very time they needed to be open. Shutting them was a colossal mistake and one that must never be repeated.”
Notes to Editors:
Paragraph 72 of the new COVID-19 Winter Plan says:
“The Government also recognises the significant sacrifices that people of all faiths have made this year; restrictions have been in place over a number of religious celebrations and observances, and it is thanks to these sacrifices that it has been possible to control the virus. Communal worship will be possible for all faiths in all three tiers and faith leaders continue to play a key role, consulting on how to make religious practice as safe as possible.”
The Christian Institute is a non-denominational registered charity, which seeks to promote the Christian faith in the UK. It has over 60,000 supporters, including over 5,200 churches.
It was founded in 1991 by Christian church leaders and professionals and it currently campaigns on a range of issues including marriage and the family, child protection, pro-life concerns, drugs, religious liberty and education, as well as Christianity and the constitution.