Faith leaders across the United Kingdom have united to challenge the government’s decision to ban services of worship from Thursday, when tougher lockdown measures will be implemented across the country.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster and the most senior Catholic in the UK said that the ban is “a source of deep anguish”.
“Whilst we understand the many difficult decisions facing the government, we have not yet seen any evidence whatsoever that would make the banning of communal worship, with all its human costs, a productive part of combatting the virus. We ask the government to produce this evidence that justifies the cessation of acts of public worship.”
He added that the government has “a profound responsibility to show why it has taken particular decisions” and that “Not doing so risks eroding the unity we need as we enter a most difficult period for our country.”
Justin Welby, most senior Bishop of the Church of England commented on his Twitter account; “This is harder than the first wave – let’s be calm, compassionate and courageous … And may God guide our leaders in these tough decisions”.
Meanwhile Qari Muhammad, chair of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, also spoke out against the ban, stating that communal worship is essential to the practice of Islam: “The fundamental difference between mosques and some other places of worship is that mosques are first and foremost used for communal prayer.”
Religious festivals are also set to be disrupted by the new measures, with Diwali set to begin on 14 November. It is likely thatthis year’s Christmas nativity and carol services will also be up in the air.