Following the success of the vaccine role out, it’s time for churches to open up the doors and let the music play, says Sam Hailes
At the start of the pandemic I was asked whether I thought churches would comply with the restrictions being placed on them. “Yes, they will,” I said, “but not indefinitely.”
Most leaders have been willing to close their doors temporarily (when case numbers have surged), and require their congregants to wear face masks when attending services. Desperate times have indeed called for desperate measures. But as the pandemic peters out, the ongoing ban on Christians singing is provoking consternation from across the denominations. John Stevens from the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches has said its “disappointing to see government asserting restrictions are still necessary” while Dame Sarah Mullaly, the Bishop of London, has promised to challenge the government and “press for ongoing appraisal of choral and congregational singing”.
We recently considered the controversial question of whether Christians in the UK are persecuted. Personally I think ‘persecution’ is the wrong word. But I have some sympathy with those who consider the indefinite restriction on congregational singing a breach of our religious freedom. How else can you explain the fact that I could walk into a pub right now and sing my heart out, but I can’t do the same in my local church? Why can fans return to football stadiums and chant “Inger-Land, Inger-Land, Inger-Land”, but Christians cannot sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs?
The refusal of our government to even set a date when congregational singing might be possible again is a real kick in the teeth to the thousands of priests and pastors who have not only complied with ever-changing guidelines on what is permissible inside their buildings, but have stepped up their community work too. In the months and years to come, as we discover the full impact that these lockdowns have had on our society (and not least upon our mental health), you can bet the Church will once again be on the frontline, caring for people’s physical, mental and spiritual welfare. If it weren’t for Jesus’ words about giving freely without expecting anything in return (Luke 6:34), I’d say the government owes us…
Why can fans return to football stadiums and chant “Inger-Land, Inger-Land, Inger-Land”, but Christians cannot sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs?
There are 25 million people now fully vaccinated and the death rate has dropped to fewer than ten per day. Research conducted last year suggested singing is no riskier than talking, when it comes to spreading coronavirus. Those who want or need to stay at home on a Sunday morning can carry on singing at their laptop screens. But for the rest of us, in the words of that famous Delirious? song, it’s time to open up the doors and let the music play. We have been deprived of our right to worship God corporately through song for much too long. The Government must act now.
Help us persuade the Government to bring singing back to churches across the UK from 19th July at the latest. Sign the petition now