Theresa May warns suspension of public worship sets a dangerous precedent

Theresa May(Photo: Reuters)

Theresa May has warned about the religious liberty implications of a ban on public worship during the second national lockdown in England. 

In the Commons this week, the former Prime Minister, who is herself Christian, said the precedent set by the temporary bans on public worship during both lockdowns could be "misused" by future governments. 

"I just want to make one word about public worship and echo the concerns of others," she said.

"My concern is that the Government today, making it illegal to conduct an act of public worship for the best of intentions, sets a precedent that could be misused for a government in the future with the worst of intentions, and it has unintended consequences."

Churches and other places of worship were forced to close their doors on Thursday for all but a few circumstances, including private prayer, funerals, and broadcasting services.

The changes affect Remembrance services taking place this Sunday, with Mrs May saying that the fallen "deserve better" than a pre-recorded online service.

 "The Covid secure remembrance service in Worcester Cathedral is now going to be turned into a pre-recorded online service," she said.

"Surely those men and women who gave down their lives for our freedom deserve better than this? The public and Parliament wants to support the Government to take the right decisions.

"To do that we need to have the right figures, the right data and the proper information."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has twice apologised this week for the closure of churches but has refused to lift the restrictions in spite of pressure from Church leaders, including the Arcbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal Vincent Nichols. 

The ban is set to remain in place until the temporary lockdown ends on 2 December.