Religious leaders have challenged the government’s decision to ban “essential” communal worship during lockdown.
Continuation of public worship is “essential”, the leaders of the Church of England, the Roman Catholic church and orthodox Judaism, along with Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Pentecostal representatives, have warned.
In an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Communities secretary Robert Jenrick and Minister of State, Lord Stephen Greenhalgh, the coalition of England’s most senior faith leaders conclude: “We strongly disagree with the decision to suspend public worship during this time.”
In comments which mark a dramatic shift in tone from the first lockdown earlier this year, the faith leaders revealed that they disagree with the Government’s policy to close places of worship which, they claim, have proved they can be “made safe from Covid transmission”.
“Given the significant work we have already done, we consider there to be, now, no scientific justification for the wholesale suspension of public worship,” they added.
In the letter, made public as the second national lockdown is set to come into force on Thursday, the faith leaders set out how public worship can play a vital role in supporting social cohesion and mental health and offer “an essential sign of hope”.
They conclude: “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.”