Revise sanitary guidelines on churches, places of worship – Anglican Church

The Anglican Church yesterday asked the government why the blanket ban remains on opening churches and places of worship while allowing schools, clubs, gymnasiums, restaurants and cinemas to open subject to certain restrictions.

The Church in a statement issued by the Bishop of Kurunegala Rt. Rev. Keerthisiri Fernando Presiding Bishop of the Church of Ceylon and Bishop of Colombo Rt. Reverend Dushantha Rodrigo said the regulation lacks a rational basis and is disproportionate and discriminatory against minority religions in particular.

Full Statement: The Church of Ceylon (The Anglican Church of Sri Lanka) expresses deep concern over the anomalies and inconsistencies in recently released COVID and public health regulations.

The regulations allow the opening of schools, clubs, gymnasiums, restaurants, cinemas and various other entities subject to certain restrictions, but maintains an almost blanket ban on opening churches and places of religious practice. In our opinion, this lacks a rational basis, is arbitrary, disproportionate and discriminates against minority religions in particular.

If students can congregate in classrooms; people engaged in sports and recreation gather in small places and share equipment; whether people can exercise in confined, air-conditioned spaces or watch movies and other forms of entertainment in closed, air-conditioned auditoriums; how can one consider that a gathering of people for an hour or two in a church or similar building for community worship subject to the requirements of social distancing, limited numbers and other standard safety precautions, poses a risk to public health ?

The illogical and unreasonable restrictions enacted in the recent set of guidelines therefore violate the rights of members of our Church as well as the rights of many other people of all faiths who have been unreasonably denied the right to manifest their freedom of religion and freedom. conviction. in worship, observance, practice and teaching in accordance with Article 14 (1) e of the Constitution.

We are forced to publish this statement because several letters to the competent authorities requesting clarification on this matter have not been answered. We recognize the need to restrict certain activities in the interest of public health to deal with the pandemic. However, such restrictions cannot be arbitrary and discriminatory in effect and must be reasonable and have a public health justification.

We call on the government to revise its health guidelines to allow religious worship subject to general social distancing restrictions, numbers based on a percentage of full capacity, and other relevant health and safety protocols.

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