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New Zealand pastors brand covid church closures 'illegal' in appeal for gov apology

by Premier Journalist

Pastors in New Zealand are calling on the government to apologise for closing places of worship during the pandemic, saying the move was “unlawful”.

New Zealand underwent some of the strictest coronavirus regulations in the world, resulting in borders remaining closed for two years.

Last year, the High Court in Wellington ruled that the government was justified in their decision to close churches, and that the move didn’t infringe on the country’s bill of rights.

Free To Be Church (FTBC) - a coalition of church leaders - has condemned the ruling, and continues to call on the government to apologise. They say the specificities of religious gatherings were not recognised.

"Here in New Zealand, we were just branded together with social gatherings that included strip clubs, bars and sporting events," Andre Bay, FTBC chair of trustees and pastor of Shore Baptist Church in North Shore, told Fox News Digital this week.

"So, the church wasn't seen as a unique entity of people who act according to their conscience. The church wasn't seen as a special, distinct unit."

They argue the government is undermining the “spiritual authority” of church leaders, and that people experienced “spiritual damage” as a result of church closures.

Last year, the FTBC attempted to sue the government over the matter. Their appeal is due to be heard in August.

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