Christian leaders are still considering whether to take legal action against the government for imposing blanket bans on churches during the lockdown, which carried the threat of criminal penalties.
Pastor and co-founder of Christian Concern, Ade Omooba, said the government should not have introduced such sweeping measures to prevent churches from gathering for worship or ministry as part of its response to the pandemic. of coronavirus.
He is one of 25 church leaders who wrote to the government in May threatening legal action on the grounds that the blanket closure of churches was ‘disproportionate’ and contravened church freedoms as guaranteed by Magna Map.
“Our clients are not suggesting for a moment that churches should be allowed to operate as before despite the coronavirus outbreak,” the letter read.
“The concern of our clients is rather that, as a matter of principle, the imposition of appropriate anti-epidemic measures in the Church ultimately rests with the authorities of the Church rather than the secular authorities of the State.”
Churches have been allowed to reopen for worship since July 4, with government guidelines issued days before that advice outlining rather than legally enforceable regulations.
However, church leaders are still considering whether to take legal action to uphold the principle that the church should be free from disproportionate state interference.
Pastor Omooba said, “The government should never have criminalized Christian worship and ministry.
“Churches have been placed in the extraordinary position of being allowed to operate food banks while facing the risk of criminal penalties for offering in-person prayer ministry.
“We are pleased that as a result of our discussions and legal action, the government has backed down, giving guidance to churches rather than legally enforceable regulations.”
He continued: “Blanket bans with the threat of criminal sanctions should never have been imposed on churches so unilaterally. The church is vital to society and should never have been seen as less ‘essential’ than DIY stores or other businesses.
“The new government regulations and guidelines show the importance of the legal action we have taken. We continue to make this point of law that the government should not interfere with church regulation in any way so draconian.”