The UK government’s move banning worship services is under fire with more than 120 church leaders planning to take legal action for its decision during the COVID-19 pandemic. The various groups feel that this is a measure that goes against the independence of religious organizations while also depriving the freedom of religious people.
Out to provide the religious leaders help is the Christian Legal Centre. An official statement was released by the group, something that can be read below.
“The English and Welsh Governments have now introduced two successive sets of lockdown measures which have completely prohibited and criminalized public communal worship, a core aspect of religious life for the Claimants and their congregations,” the letter read.
“With these measures, the Governments have inflicted a terrible human cost, without rigorous consideration of less onerous restrictions, and as part of a package which leaves places of worship open for secular activities.”
This comes amid the second wave of coronavirus cases in the last month. To curb down COVID-19 numbers anew, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a national lockdown until Dec. 2.
The lockdown means that bars, non-essential shops, gyms will have to cease operations while the lockdown is in place. Places of worship are also included but remain open to private prayer. Schools and workplaces have been allowed to stay open.
Citizens will still be allowed to go out provided this would be to get essential services, exercise or head to school or work.
As of this writing, Johnson Hopkins University reports that the UK has over 1.3 million COVID-19 cases and over 52,000 deaths. The highest daily infection rate was recorded with 33,470 new cases of the disease.
Despite the severity of the coronavirus threat, church leaders are challenging the second lockdown. They are aware the Parliament cannot legislate on matters relating to or impinging upon the Church of England or any other religion. However, respect for the freedom to worship is written into the constitutional DNA of this country.
It should be best to note that these extensive restrictions are not easy to adapt to. Like most of the world used to normal life, these are restrictions that have never been imposed before.
Most church leaders know how serious the situation is. Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, a former Church of England bishop of Rochester, is pretty much aware of that need. However, he questions the manner in which these restrictions are being done.
The same sentiment is shared by leaders from various faith traditions. They wrote an open letter to Johnson stating that they were aware of the threat that the coronavirus brings. However, they question the decision to suspend public worship.
"We understand entirely that the country faces significant challenges and the reasons behind the Government’s decision to bring in new measures. But we strongly disagree with the decision to suspend public worship during this time. We have had reaffirmed, through the bitter experience of the last six months, the critical role that faith plays in moments of tremendous crisis, and we believe public worship is essential."