STATEMENT OF CONCERNED UK PASTORS AND CHURCH LEADERS APPEALING TO THE GOVERNMENT THAT NO FURTHER LOCKDOWNS BE IMPOSED UPON SOCIETY
October 2021 : As the winter months approach, we Christian pastors and church leaders named below contend that Britain must not return to stringent lockdown measures, closing down society and all normal economic and social activity. There must instead be a resort to other less harmful measures to deal with the inevitability of an increase in respiratory viral infections, as the colder weather takes hold.
As Bible-believing pastors we know from Romans 10:3 that one of the characteristics of a Christ-rejecting society is that many seek to establish their own standards of what is deemed to be good, and that these standards will often not be in accordance with what God requires. Furthermore, secular society may adhere to these standards with a religious zeal. Conformity to the lockdown principle appears to fall into this category.
Yes, of course we endeavour to alleviate any suffering which a serious respiratory virus causes, and yes, some sensible precautions must be taken to contain it, but God does not require that we do so at the price of destroying all normal human interaction, separating families, and taking away people’s livelihoods. It is also a plain fact that in a fallen world viruses, and sickness more generally, will always exist, their presence being an aspect of the fall of man.
The Christian, therefore, must challenge the lockdown principle on Biblical grounds, one of the most fundamental of which is that God made us for human communication. Lockdowns prevent people from meeting one another and engaging in the interaction which is integral to human existence and the maintenance of an individual’s well-being. Lockdowns must be challenged, because they actually reduce the ability of people to care for their neighbours.
The Covid-19 lockdowns have also immorally prioritised one group of sick people over those with other just as serious, and arguably, far more serious illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer patients. Lockdowns have also made it more difficult for patients to see their GPs face to face, lessening the ability of the doctors to make more accurate diagnoses (1).
The Institute for Public Policy Research has stated that some 4,500 avoidable cancer deaths will occur in 2021 due to delays in test and screening procedures (2). The British Heart Foundation has informed us that by February 2022 the number of people waiting for heart surgery is likely to increase from 11,000 to 15,000 (3). More generally, 5.61 million people are now waiting for some kind of hospital treatment (4). The Christian position must be that those with heart and cancer issues, and other major health problems, are equally worthy of rapid care and treatment.
The Bible warns against the sinful showing of partiality towards some over and against others, for example in 1 Timothy 5:21. This means that in respect of caring for the sick we cannot have a grading of human ailments, so that one particular virus takes priority over all other illnesses.
Another factor making acceptance of the lockdown principle so difficult for the Christian relates to God’s providence. Every morning the believer wakes up and thanks God for the new day, and if he is healthy and able to go out to work, that is a providential blessing which must not be spurned. To tell healthy people not to go to their work cannot be defended on Biblical grounds (see, for example, 2 Thessalonians 3:10).
The Christian is always concerned about embracing truth and never knowingly condoning falsehood. This puts him or her directly at odds with aspects of the Government’s Covid advertising over the past 18 months. For example, we have been told concerning the virus, ‘Act like you’ve got it’. However, for someone who has no symptoms whatsoever to act as if he is infected is to knowingly live out a falsehood. This is not compatible with the walk of faith which praises God for the blessing of health, and which desires to live only according to that which is true.
Lockdowns hinder Christians from worshipping God corporately and in-person with one another, which they are commanded to do (Hebrews 10:24-25). Lockdowns actively hinder the dissemination of God’s truth. They prevent Christian preachers from doing exactly what the Lord exhorts them to do, namely to go into the places of public concourse and to physically meet people to tell them about salvation in Christ (Mark 16:15).
Regarding the scientific validity of the lockdown principle, we regret that the Government has not been more open to alternative viewpoints such as that represented by the Great Barrington Declaration (GBD). In this document 3 eminent public health specialists and epidemiologists from Oxford, Harvard and Stanford Universities argue against the suitability of lockdown measures. There are 44 co-signatories to their statement, all of whom are also medical professionals. In addition to these original authors, many other experts have endorsed the statement. At the time of writing 14,879 ‘medical and public health scientists’ and 43,804 ‘medical practitioners’ from all around the world have given their support to the GBD (5).
The GBD points out the “devastating effects on short and long-term public health” which lockdowns create, leading to higher than normal mortality rates in the years to come. The negative consequences of lockdown policies include “worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health … with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden” (6). The GBD advocates as an alternative to lockdowns what it calls ‘Focused Protection’ policies. Such policies will “allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk” (7).
We ministers and Christian leaders would also argue that, even in cases where someone may be deemed to be at a higher level of risk in respect of Covid-19, the decision about curtailing normal activity, if that person is currently healthy and free of the virus, should be left to the conscience of the individual, rather than the decision being imposed upon him or her by the State.
We also argue that Sweden, which has shunned lockdown policies as a means of curtailing the spread of Covid-19, affords us a tangible and verifiable example that lockdowns are not proven to be effective. In fact, “Sweden’s overall mortality rate in 2020 was (actually) lower than most of Europe” (8,9). Furthermore, there are ample research papers available concerning the general ineffectiveness of lockdowns (10).
Lockdowns create economic mayhem, and Christians have a duty of care towards those who will potentially lose their livelihoods, especially those running small businesses, as well as to those who are sick or medically vulnerable. This duty of care further extends to those whose quality of life and general well-being will be adversely affected to a serious degree by the economic decline which lockdowns bring in their wake. Society cannot just ignore such people.
It is further relevant to point out that the Biblical principle for containing disease, as laid down in Leviticus 13, is to quarantine the sick, not the healthy and economically active. This Biblical pattern establishes the necessity of specific symptoms being present before any quarantining process begins (e.g Leviticus 13:24-25). In contrast, the modern lockdown asserts the principle of universal quarantining regardless of symptoms.
The Bible-believing Christian realises that even men of great intellect, even those skilled in their particular area of scientific study, nevertheless have minds which are influenced by their worldview and by the consensus prevailing within the society to which they belong. They may also have certain restrictive parameters laid upon them by the institutions which employ them, making complete impartiality impossible. Therefore, the Christian has a duty to be discerning, and not automatically accepting, when the Government’s scientific experts make their pronouncements.
Because our society is a God-rejecting society, it is overwhelmed by excessive fear, a fear which is inevitable when men think, in respect of a widespread virus, that the State and its agencies are the only possible saviour.
Yes, we must care for the vulnerable, but the lockdown principle affects all society, including the healthy, and, as we have stated, it is contrary to the will of God to prevent healthy people going to their work. The normal interaction which is integral to human existence must be maintained. The collateral damage brought about by lockdowns economically, socially and psychologically is far too destructive.
We therefore call upon the Government to shun lockdown measures as the winter months come upon us, and, in particular, not to restrict the normal, vital and beneficial work carried on by the churches, an essential aspect of which is the physical meeting together for worship and mutual help and encouragement.
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