A group of church leaders has agreed to start a legal challenge of the government’s decision to close church buildings in the new lockdown that started this week in England.
71 church leaders from different streams and traditions have signed the pre-action letter asking the government not to impose a ban on worship services and saying they will pursue judicial review to overturn the ban if necessary.
The new restrictions state that “places of worship will be closed” with exceptions for funerals, broadcast acts of worship, individual prayer, essential voluntary public services, formal childcare, and some other exempted activities.
These restrictions once again make it a criminal offence for Christians to gather for worship or prayer, or to go to church on Sunday.
The group of church leaders includes 25 leaders who initiated legal action against the government against the closure of churches in the first lockdown.
Following the application for judicial review, which received favourable comments from the High Court Judge, Mr Justice Swift, the government backed down and allowed churches to meet, providing guidance with virtually no legal restrictions.
In a separate judicial review of lockdown restrictions, the judge, Mr Justice Lewis, singled out the closure of churches as arguably unlawful and a breach of freedom of religion.
The group involved in the new action also includes Welsh leaders who have already sent a pre-action letter to the Welsh government objecting to the closure of churches over three Sundays for the Welsh ‘firebreak’ lockdown.
This comes after some 885 church leaders signed an open letter to the Prime Minister and First Ministers stating that “we must not be asked to suspend Christian worship again. For us to do so would cause serious damage to our congregations, our service of the nation, and our duty as Christian ministers.”
Read a full press release from Christian Concern.
Also, faith leaders including the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, the Chair of the British Board of Scholars and Imams and the Chief Rabbi have written to the Prime Minister to raise their ‘profound concerns’ over the banning of public worshhip.
Reasoned‘s Darren Grimes interviews barrister Francis Hoar about the two legal challenges he is bringing against the UK Government’s Covid-19 lockdown regulations.