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Christian MP 'furious' the Church wasn't noisy enough about reopening of churches

by Tola Mbakwe
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A Christian MP has told Premier Christians did not put enough pressure on the UK Government to reopen churches. 

Derek Thomas, Conservative MP for St Ives, said although he's happy churches can open for services on 4th July, Christians could have done more to lobby on the issue. 

"I am inwardly furious… 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," he said.  

"I've had huge numbers of meetings with every sector you can possibly imagine. I've had meetings with other Christians, in fellowship with other church leaders, but I've had no pressure whatsoever from any church leader until this week to even consider opening up churches.

"And yet we live in a country where enormous numbers of people really benefit and enjoy the fellowship of others, the close community of church, and what we can do in being salt and light in our communities. "

Mr Thomas accused Christians of being passive on the issue and leaving it up to the government to take the lead. 

"I don't actually think the government has any responsibility for this. I think the government have looked at the risks to human life and to human health, and made decisions that affected every part of society, including church worship," he told Premier

"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 new Places of Worship Taskforce met last month so faith leaders and the Government could develop a plan to enable the phased and safe reopening of places of worship when the evidence showed it is the right time to do so.

Members of the taskforce agreed to consult their faith communities on the measures being considered and to support ongoing engagement with their communities.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Daniel Singleton from Christian charity Faith Action are members of the taskforce. 

In May, Cardinal Vincent Nichols called for the reopening of churches in the UK and wanted to know  why places of worship have not been prioritised in the Government's measures to ease lockdown restrictions.

His plea came after number of UK Bishops and church leaders wrote to the government seeking an urgent review of lockdown measures that banned churches from opening.

The letter warned that the group intended to take legal action if the ban was not addressed.

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