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Concerns over vaccine passports for churches while worship rules may stretch beyond June

May 2021 | by Evangelical Times

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There are growing concerns among church leaders that the government will introduce ‘vaccine passports’ for places of worship and extend restrictions on worship beyond June.

A group of church ministers have signed a public letter to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnston, urging the government not to put churches in that position.

The letter has been signed by over 600 leaders of churches and Christian organisations from across the UK.

Signatories including William Philip of The Tron Church in Glasgow, Paul Levy of the International Presbyterian Church in London, Dave Gobbett of Highfields Church in Cardiff, and Steven Robinson of Faughan Reformed Presbyterian Church in Northern Ireland.

The letter states, ‘As Christian leaders across a range of denominations, we continue to pray at this time for your government “and all in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:2).

‘However, we write to you concerning an area of the most serious concern, namely the potential introduction into our society of so-called “vaccine passports” which have also been referred to as “COVID-status certificates” and “freedom passes”.’

The letter goes on to say the church leaders are ‘wholly opposed to this suggestion’ for three reasons. First, because it seems unnecessary given the success of the vaccination programme. Second, it ‘would constitute an unethical form of coercion’.

And third, ‘as Christian leaders we wish to state that we envisage no circumstances in which we could close our doors to those who do not have a vaccine passport, negative test certificate, or any other “proof of health”’.

Separately from the letter, there are also concerns that the government will extend restrictions on church worship beyond the date when all restrictions were expected to be lifted – 21 June.

It is feared the government may still require social distancing and mask wearing in places of worship, and continue to strongly urge congregations not to sing.

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