A Church of England (CofE) vicar said he is being treated "very heavy-handedly" for hugging a person during a funeral and for singing without a mask.
The Christian Post said Vicar Rev. Charlie Boyle is under investigation by the Diocese of Salisbury for violating the COVID-19 guidelines by singing the final verse of the Easter hymn, "Thine Be The Glory," while not wearing a mask.
Boyle, married with four children, is the vicar of All Saints Church, which is an evangelical Anglican Parish in Branksome Park, Poole. Boyle is said to have also threatened by the Diocese to be fired from his post as part of the disciplinary actions against him.
A parishioner complained to the Diocese accusing Boyle of singing without wearing a mask while walking down the church aisle. Other complaints raised against him included hugging someone at a funeral, failure to take overall responsibility for the church's COVID-19 risk assessment, displaying Bibles on the pews without cleaning them as they have been allegedly in storage for a year, and using modern structures and music to grow the church.
"The way that I've been treated personally by the diocese of Salisbury has been very heavy-handed...when really, what we could had was just a conversation over the phone. There was hardly anyone in the church anyway. I feel shocked and saddened that they could be so petty." Boyle said in an interview with Premier Christian News on the issue of violating the mask guidelines.
The Christian Post pointed out that Boyle had asthma and was exempt from wearing a mask. In addition, the government also provides exemption on the wearing of masks for "those who are leading services or events in a place of worship" when the incident happened.
"Do you know what? I'd do it again. It's an involuntary reaction of comfort," he added pertaining to the issue of hugging someone at a funeral. "I feel sad that the whole world has got to this stage where people will complain behind your back about giving a hug to somebody. The motivation to hug someone is out of kindness and love."
The Christian Post added that prior to receiving threats of being fired, the Archdeacon of Dorset spoke to Boyle regarding the complaints against him and asked him to leave his post by the end of July. But Boyle refused to resign so the Archdeacon launched the investigation against him.
Boyle, who already sought the help of the Christian Legal Centre regarding his situation, revealed in Twitter that many undergo the same experience as he does.
"It's sad how many other folk have contacted me to say they have had similar situations with Church authorities," he said.
Meanwhile, CBN News reported that the parishioner have reported Boyle with the local police for breaking the U.K. protocol on masks. CBN News highlighted that Boyle has been responsibly caring for his flock through strict adherance to the protocols. The outlet also stressed that the parishioner should have spoken to him about the matter first before going to the authorities about it so that it could be addressed on a personal level as the Bible said regarding addressing offenses.
"We had our own track and trace. We had the QR codes. We put sanitizer in the church hall. I personally put these little red markers and I have made sure that people have been safe," Boyle disclosed in his interview with Christian Concern.