295 church pastors and leaders have written an open letter to Premier Daniel Andrews urging him to allow churches to open for indoor worship, for the wellbeing of the church members and the wider community. “The Australian Christian Lobby congratulates the joint effort of these church leaders,” Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) spokesperson Jasmine Yuen said. “Their letter expresses concern about the mental health and wellbeing of the community in this prolonged lockdown. Suicidal thoughts and self-harm among young people have spiked. The church leaders’ concerns further highlight the negative impacts raised for months by many Victorian health professionals, warning the government against a prolonged and strict lockdown.

“The daily new COVID-19 cases in Victoria are at the lowest in months. The Andrews government cannot justify continuing a draconian lockdown that hurts the economy, livelihoods and the health and mental wellbeing of the community. “These church leaders now join business and hospitality sectors calling on the Andrews government to remove restrictions. Churches can apply a COVID-Safe Plan and social distancing measures. For instance, contact tracing is easier than in public places, making church services a safe place for people to gather.” The ACL calls upon the Andrews government to listen to these respected church leaders, allow churches to open and contribute to community wellbeing.

Editors note:  Despite recent announcements of the lifting of many restrictions in Victoria, Churches will only be allowed 20 worshippers inside and 50 outside. This means the vast majority of Churches will remain closed.

The Western Australian (WA) Government is the latest Government to discriminate against Churches. The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has labelled the WA Premier’s latest easing of COVID restrictions unfair. “Somehow, comedy lounges are okay but churches are not – it doesn’t make sense,” ACL State Director Peter Abetz said. “It is unfair, even discriminatory to scrap the ‘2-metre rule’ in theatres, concert halls, auditoriums, amphitheatres, cinemas, comedy lounges, and performing arts centres but not places of worship. The government statement said such venues are ‘low risk’ as they are seated and ticketed. Churches are also seated and the gatherings are similar from week to week, making them easily traceable.” “Until now, Western Australia had treated places of worship like other venues, but not any more.

“Faith groups provide an essential service for community health and mental well-being. They have gone out of their way to be COVID-safe. These latest, arbitrary rules are unfair and will undermine community support for the restrictions. The ACL calls upon the Premier to swiftly review and update the easing of restrictions.” Abetz said.

Source: Compiled by APN from information gained from various sources 

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