The Bishop of Leeds has called on the British government to change its mind on the banning of public collective worship in the second national lockdown.
Bishop Marcus Stock wrote a “Letter of Hope” to Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying there is no evidence that churches have contributed to the rise in Covid-19 cases and added that places of worship help sustain hope for many people.
“Since the beginning of July, our churches have introduced measures which have enabled the faithful to gather safely for acts of worship,” Bishop Stock wrote.
“Indeed, many people who have been able to return to their regular place of worship have commented that the rigorous safety measures which we have introduced have made our churches some of the safest places for people to be.”
The bishop added that there is “no evidence that our churches have in any way contributed to the recent rise in the rate of Covid-19 infections.”
Boris Johnson announced on Saturday evening that England would enter a second national lockdown from Thursday, 5 November. He did not mention places of worship in his announcement, but the government later published rules stating that public acts of worship will be banned, but churches can stay open for private prayer.
The handling of the announcement has been criticised by faith leaders, who said they were not consulted on the changes. Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop of Liverpool Malcolm McMahon issued a statement challenging the government to publish evidence explaining how public worship has contributed to the spread of the virus.
In his letter, Bishop Stock went further and called for the government to amend its guidance to “enable places of worship to remain open for acts of public worship and religious services.”
“This truly will help to sustain the hope of many people,” he said.
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