Nearly 1,000 church leaders sign letter opposing vaccine passports
Some 948 church leaders have added their
names to an open letter opposing the
introduction of vaccine passports.
The letter, to be sent to Boris Johnson and
the devolved nations’ first ministers, calls
the introduction of vaccine passports “one
of the most dangerous policy proposals
ever to be made in the history of British
The church leaders warn of a “medical
apartheid” and “two-tier society” divided
between those who have had the vaccine
and those who have not.
They argue that people should be free to
turn down the vaccine on grounds of
conscience, and that to do so should not
exclude them from public life.
They further state that they will keep their
church doors open to all, regardless of
whether they have had the vaccine or not.
Vaccine passports have been floated as a
way of helping countries ease restrictions
by requiring evidence that people have
been vaccinated against Covid-19 before
they are allowed to enter public spaces like
shops, theatres, restaurants and hotels.
Over 32 million people in the UK have
received the first dose of the vaccine, while
over 7 million have had both jabs. The
Airfinity tracker predicts that 75% of the
population will be fully immunised by the
first week of August.
With the successful vaccine rollout
bringing case numbers in the UK down to
the low thousands, non-essential shops
and outdoor dining resumed this week.
The Government has expressed its
openness to the introduction of vaccine
passports, saying last week that they
“could play a role in reducing social-
A poll by The Times has found strong
public support for vaccine passports if it
means the end of social distancing, but the
church leaders are urging the Government
not to go down this route.
Setting out their opposition, they argue that
“those who have been vaccinated have
already received protection”, rendering a
vaccine passport unnecessary, but they
also raise serious concerns about the
impact on democracy and individual
Vaccine passports, they say, would
“constitute an unethical form of coercion
and violation of the principle of informed
“People may have various reasons for
being unable or unwilling to receive
vaccines currently available including, for
some Christians, serious issues of
conscience related to the ethics of vaccine
manufacture or testing,” they said.
“We risk creating a two-tier society, a
medical apartheid in which an underclass
of people who decline vaccination are
excluded from significant areas of public
“There is also a legitimate fear that this
scheme would be the thin end of the
wedge leading to a permanent state of
affairs in which COVID vaccine status
could be expanded to encompass other
forms of medical treatment and perhaps
even other criteria beyond that.
“This scheme has the potential to bring
about the end of liberal democracy as we
know it and to create a surveillance state in
which the government uses technology to
control certain aspects of citizens’ lives.
“As such, this constitutes one of the most
dangerous policy proposals ever to be
made in the history of British politics.”
The letter has been compiled by Rev Dr
Jamie Franklin, Curate of St George in the
Meadows, Nottingham, Rev David
Johnston, Minister Emeritus of the
Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Rev Dr
William JU Philip, Minister of the Tron
Church in Glasgow, Rev A Paul Levy,
Minister of Ealing International
Presbyterian Church, London, Rev Mez
McConnell, Senior Minister of Niddrie
Community Church, and Terence
McCutcheon, Executive Director of the
Hope For Glasgow Addiction Recovery
They “envisage no circumstances in which
we could close our doors to those who do
not have a vaccine passport, negative test
certificate, or any other ‘proof of health'”,
and hint of legal action if the Government
should press ahead with the scheme.
“For the Church of Jesus Christ to shut out
those deemed by the state to be social
undesirables would be anathema to us and
a denial of the truth of the Gospel,” they
“The message we preach is given by God
for all people and consists in nothing other
than the free gift of grace offered in Christ
Jesus, with the universal call to repentance
and faith in him.
“To deny people entry to hear this life-
giving message and to receive this life-
giving ministry would be a fundamental
betrayal of Christ and the Gospel.
“Sincere Christian churches and
organisations could not do this, and as
Christian leaders we would be compelled to
resist any such Act of Parliament
The letter concludes by drawing attendtion
to their recent judicial review that
overturned the Scottish Government’s ban
on public worship during the lockdown on
the grounds that it was disproportionate.
“We cannot see how any attempt to
prevent people gathering for worship on
the basis of either testing or non-
vaccination would not similarly be ruled to
be a breach,” they say.
“We agree with those members of
Parliament who have already voiced
opposition to this proposal: that it would be
divisive, discriminatory and destructive to
introduce any such mandatory health
certification into British society.
“We call on the government to assert
strongly and clearly that it will not
contemplate this illiberal and dangerous
plan, not now and not ever.”
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