Churches should have done more to pressurise the government to reopen places of worship, one Christian MP has said.
Derek Thomas, Conservative MP for St Ives, said although he’s happy churches in England were allowed to reopen from 4th July, Christians could have done more to lobby on the issue.
‘I am inwardly furious,’ he told Premier Christian Media, ‘that the church — and I absolutely include myself — have not been noisy enough and working enough to make the case for churches and places of worship to open again.’
Mr Thomas accused Christians of being passive on the issue and leaving it up to the government to take the lead.
He said, ‘My frustration has been that the church haven’t helped, haven’t worked as much with government to try and find a way through as other parts of the community have, including, for example, hair salons.
‘I mean, they’ve done a really good job of making the case. I’ve had more discussions about people’s hair than I have about the need for worship and that does concern me a little bit.
‘I’m amazed that we’ve been so passive in that. We recognise the risk, we know it’s right to follow and obey government guidance, but I would love to have felt that our message to government and our message to the country would have been much stronger in support of expressions of hope and opportunity for people who have faith to come together.’
A ‘Places of Worship Taskforce’ was set up in May to discuss the way in which the lockdown may be eased. The group included many faith leaders.
They used video conferencing to meet several times with government ministers and officials. The faith leaders agreed to consult their respective communities on proposed changes.