Coronavirus: Kensal Green vicar hits out at banning public worship saying government is ‘persecuting the church’

Fr David Ackerman of St John the Evangelist Church in Kilburn Lane

Fr David Ackerman of St John the Evangelist Church in Kilburn Lane - Credit: Archant

Banning public worship during a second national lockdown is “persecuting the church” and its parishioners, says a Kensal Green vicar.

Father David Ackerman, of St John the Evangelist Church in Kilburn Lane, has hit out at government plans to cancel public worship under second lockdown guidance.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Saturday that England would be under a new lockdown from Thursday (November 5) until December 2.

The restrictions are designed to curb the spread of Covid-19, which the government said could cause more than 4,000 deaths a day at a peak, and ensure the NHS has enough capacity to treat patients as the virus spreads.

Other than for funerals, the only other reasons places of worship can stay open is to broadcast acts of worship, individual prayer, formal childcare, or essential services such as blood donation or food banks.

“Sunday was All Saints’ Day and I had young men crying in the church about their jobs and futures. It’s not fair that the government is doing this, it is a human right to worship,” said Fr David.

“In the Gospel we heard the words ‘blessed are the persecuted’. It’s the government which is now persecuting the church.”

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He added: “I’m disgusted to my core that we will be told on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two that we can’t hold a Remembrance Sunday service.

“All these people died for us and we are not supposed to mark it? It makes me sick.

“I will be laying a wreath. We live in a free country. If the police want to come and break up wreath laying and national anthem singing, I’d rather leave this country than live like this.”

He accused the government of “using terror” to frighten people and told the public to contact their MP to urge them to vote against the plans.

MPs are due to be given the chance to vote on a second national lockdown on Wednesday.

Karen Buck, Labour MP for Westminster North, said: “I completely understand the strength of feeling on all of this, but on the available evidence it seems we have no choice but to restrict social gatherings in order to stop the spread of the virus.

“This is a desperately sad, difficult situation for everyone and it is a depressing fact that the failure to get an effective test and trace system up and running is one of the reasons we are back where we are.”

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “Places of worship bring huge solace and comfort to people, especially during this challenging time.

“The Government doesn’t take imposing further restrictions lightly. But this action is vital to tackling the spread of the virus.”