UK Church leaders and members have urged the Prime Minister not to create a "two-tier society" by introducing vaccine passports for some venues, arguing that it is illogical, socially unacceptable and morally wrong.
Pastors Rev Dr William Philip, Rev Dr Jamie Franklin, Rev David Johnson and Rev Paul Levy - from a range of church denominations - have re-opened the letter they wrote in April due to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's recent plan to use the NHS Covid Pass as a requirement to enter nightclubs from September, although The Telegraph reported this week that the Government might incentivise the use of passports rather than make them law (by offering the abandonment of social distancing).
The NHS Covid Pass lets you share your coronavirus vaccination records or Covid-19 test status to a venue. However, the plan for nightclubs and other unspecified large venues was that a negative test would not be enough.
Due to the lack of support among Tory MPs, it is likely the enforced use of Covid passes will be watered-down. Enforcing the idea would require a Commons vote, with Mr Johnson may not win, but incentivising venues would not.
As well the opposition from politicians, over 1,000 priests, vicars, pastors, church volunteers and chaplains have signed a re-launched letter against the idea to the Prime Minister, which has also been sent to every MP.
The Christian signatories write: "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'"
They argue that if the vaccine prevents significant disease in the person who receives it, there is little additional benefit of the people around them getting the vaccine.
They also argue that the introduction of Covid passes would constitute "an unethical form of coercion", saying "People may have various reasons for being unable or unwilling to receive vaccines currently available including, for some Christians, serious issues of conscience related to the ethics of vaccine manufacture or testing.
"We risk creating a two-tier society, a medical apartheid in which an underclass of people who decline vaccination are excluded from significant areas of public life. There is also a legitimate fear that this scheme would be the thin end of the wedge leading to a permanent state of affairs in which Covid vaccine status could be expanded to encompass other forms of medical treatment and perhaps even other criteria beyond that. This scheme has the potential to bring about the end of liberal democracy as we know it and to create a surveillance state in which the government uses technology to control certain aspects of citizens' lives. As such, this constitutes one of the most dangerous policy proposals ever to be made in the history of British politics."
They conclude with their theological reasons, saying: "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'. For the Church of Jesus Christ to shut out those deemed by the state to be social undesirables would be anathema to us and a denial of the truth of the Gospel."
The Government have never said that proof of a vaccine or a negative test will be asked for to go to church.
They continue: "The message we preach is given by God for all people and consists in nothing other than the free gift of grace offered in Christ Jesus, with the universal call to repentance and faith in him. To deny people entry to hear this life-giving message and to receive this life-giving ministry would be a fundamental betrayal of Christ and the Gospel. Sincere Christian churches and organisations could not do this, and as Christian leaders we would be compelled to resist any such Act of Parliament vigorously."