Christian leaders taking legal action against Government over church closures

In-person services are being suspended across England.(Photo: Unsplash/Anna Earl)

Dozens of Christian leaders from different denominations have signed a pre-action letter to the Government calling for a re-think of church closures. 

The restrictions are being imposed as part of the second national lockdown coming into force in England on Thursday.

Places of worship will be closed except for funerals, to broadcast acts of worship, individual prayer, formal childcare or the running of essential public services. 

Pastor Ade Omooba, one of 71 Christian leaders to sign the pre-action letter, said it was wrong to relegate churches to a "social service".

He said churches were the "very last thing" that should be closed during the pandemic.

"Never in our history have our churches closed – not during wars, plagues or famines. Instead we have been places of respite and hope," he said. 

"The government seems not to understand the very important and long held constitutional position of the independence of church and civil government.

"Churches provide many essential services to their members, local communities, and the nation as a whole. But we can't be relegated to a social service.

"The motivation and key to our service is our love for Jesus Christ and our care for the whole person, body, mind and soul. The very last thing that should be closed is churches, and then only with their agreement in times of dire emergency for a very short time.

"We call on the government to recognise the vital importance of church ministry and the principle of church autonomy from the state.

"Church is so much more than a place for individual prayer. It is a place for prayer ministry, sacraments, gathered worship, fellowship, and corporate prayer and intercession. The government should not be preventing these vital ministries."

Rev Melvin Tinker, Director of Theology in the Christ Church Network said: "The flourishing of any society is dependent upon the stability of the 'three legs' of the societal stool, governmental, economic and religious. It is the third leg which is seriously being compromised by the decision to close places of worship."

Dr Peter Sanlon, Rector of Emmanuel Anglican Church in Tunbridge Wells said: "Governments have great responsibilities and are granted authority by God to do good and uphold justice, but the same God who grants authority to governments sets limits on their authority.

"A government that restricts the Church's worship - even going so far as to ban church meetings (while permitting other kinds of entertainment, education and support), oversteps its God-ordained authority.

"We need our government to exercise wisdom and prudence in these difficult days. That includes respecting the freedom of churches to care for people in ways that honour God."