The Bishop of Shrewsbury has urged Christians to reject government proposals for an easing of Sunday trading laws.
The Rt Rev Mark Davies insisted that any further deregulation of Sunday trading would have an adverse impact on “human wellbeing” and that the economic benefits would not outweigh the "human loss".
Many MPs have come out against Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plans to extend Sunday opening hours, with more than 50 Tory MPs signing a letter to the PM insisting that the changes would be detrimental because Sunday "represents an important common day of rest, where families and communities can spend time together".
Bishop Davies warned that “shared human values” could be lost if such a well-known day of rest is altered. He also argued that a shift in trading laws could result in the downgrading of some key dates in the Christian calendar such as Easter Day.
Now, Bishop Davies told his congregation, was “a moment for us to raise our voices” in opposition to the changes and preserve Sunday as a day for worship, reflection and rest.
In a homily during Mass at Shrewsbury Cathedral on June 21, he said:
“So central is Sunday to the Christian life, that for some sixteen centuries public authorities have sought to safeguard Sunday as a day of worship and so a day of rest. From the beginning of the English nation, Sunday was so distinguished as a day different to all other days.
“As we emerge from lockdown, it is regrettable that the Government is considering removing the remaining legal protections of Sunday in order to make it a full trading day. Proposals for unrestricted Sunday trading may be included within plans to revive economic activity and so place new demands upon the very shop workers and their families who have supported us throughout this crisis.
"Whatever economic advantages the Government may calculate the human loss will surely be greater if Sunday becomes just another working day. We would be discarding the Christian heritage of a shared day of rest and all the human values which the observance of Sunday has involved. At a deeper level, Britain would be discarding a key element of our Christian identity for by logical extension either Easter and Christmas Day might equally be treated as merely another working day.
“If degrading Sunday as a day of rest, of family, of community, of worship marginally enhanced our faltering economy it would not be justified because of its deeper impact upon human well-being. This is a moment for us to raise our voices, so our Christian Sunday is not discarded by a political sleight of hand.”