Evangelical Alliance slams 'disproportionate' church singing ban

(Photo: Unsplash/Aaron Burden)

The Evangelical Alliance has hit out at "nonsensical" and "discriminatory" rules around congregational singing in churches. 

Writing on the group's website, the EA's advocacy lead, Danny Webster, said the current ban was "inconsistent", "disproportionate" and contradicted the evidence.

Restrictions vary across the UK. In Scotland, indoor congregational singing is permitted in parts of the country with fewer Covid cases, but is limited to a small group of performers in regions under tougher restrictions. 

In Wales, rules were relaxed over the weekend so that churches can once again sing together inside their buildings. 

In England, indoor singing during services continues to be restricted to only a small group of performers.

Webster said that out of all the Covid rules for places of worship, the ban on congregational singing "grates the most", and that seeing large crowds singing and chanting during Euro 2020 matches had been an "added insult for churches".

"In England, the rules are more nonsensical because professional performers are not limited numerically so you could have a choir of hundreds sing, whereas for amateur singers the cap is at 6," he said.

"The government has not produced evidence to explain why singing by amateurs is more likely to spread coronavirus than by professionals."

He later added, "I do not realistically expect the government to stop fans from cheering, and trains and planes of Scottish fans descending on London were never going to be silent, but I would like to see some humility that in requiring churches to continue to mute their congregation the government are permitting football fans to do something they are not extending to worship services." 

The government has defended the ban on the grounds of concerns around aerosol transmission during singing, but Wesbter pointed to evidence from the CONFESS study by UCL which suggests that masks reduce aerosol dispersal by 85 per cent. 

"While only one study, this demonstrates a clear direction of evidence, and the government appear unwilling to rethink their policy position when new evidence appears," Webster said.