Forward in Faith shares in the anguish felt by many at the news that public worship is to be suspended from 5 November which would regrettably restrict our celebration of the sacraments – a celebration which has brought great joy and solace to so many in these testing times.
Since our buildings reopened, our church communities have worked tirelessly to make our buildings Covid-secure, and as a result our churches have become once again (as they have been for countless generations) vital centres of community and charitable activity in an unprecedented time of national crisis.
Our church communities are sustained in this work by the regular round of prayer and worship. The importance of this is recognised by the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to freedom of religion, and the right to manifest that faith in worship and observance. This is restricted only by limitations which are necessary in the interests of public safety and health. As yet, the Government has shown no evidence which would justify banning public worship on these grounds, and has ignored the profoundly harmful impact on the mental and spiritual welfare of many which such a ban would provoke.
We call on the Government to produce evidence which would justify the banning of public worship. In the absence of such evidence, we urge the Lords Spiritual – and all other members of both houses of Parliament – to defend the right to worship freely when the draft legislation is placed before them later this week.