Over the weekend, over 1,200 church leaders from a range of denominations sent an open letter to the Prime Minister. It warned that vaccine passports raised serious ethical concerns and risked creating a ‘surveillance state’ that would ‘bring about the end of liberal democracy as we know it’. 

Earlier today, we spoke to two of the original signatories Dr. William Philip, of the Tron church in Glasgow, and Dr. Jamie Franklin, who is curator of St. George in the meadow in Nottingham. Both offered a scathing assessment of the vaccine passport plan and explained why they could not support it:

'When you say that there is a possibility that the government may try and force us to exclude people from churches on the basis of whether or not they’ve had a certain medical treatment, that crosses a line for lots and lots of sincere people.' - JAMIE FRANKLIN

'It’s impossible theologically for the Christian church to close its doors to those who have been branded by society as socially undesirable. It is absolutely anathema to the Christian gospel. It would be like the Lord Jesus Christ standing up and saying, ‘Well come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden, except those of you who are sick, blind, tax collectors and sinners — you’ve got to produce your passport’' - WILLIAM PHILIP

On the failures of the church:

'Many of us have been frustrated, both in the church and in society, with what we see is a considerable lack of Christian Leadership over the last 12 months. We feel that senior church leaders across all denominations have given an imprimatur to the dictates of the government and of the secular, unelected technocrats who appear to be running things at the moment. People are extremely frustrated with this.I’m a curate at the bottom of the food chain. I’ve only been ordained for less than two years. But there’s such a dearth of leadership that I felt like it was necessary for me to do something' - JAMIE FRANKLIN

'A Christian would never argue that physical health and protection is the ultimate thing. A Christian must say that eternal health is infinitely more important…And this is the problem: the message of the church collapsed into one of merely health and safety in a temporal way. It has entirely omitted speaking about hope and salvation. That is a catastrophic failure of the institutional church' - WILLIAM PHILIP

On the church’s hypocrisy:

'The Church of England bishops had absolutely no problem with denouncing Brexit in a very enthusiastic manner. So there is a justification for this, but it’s just an inconsistent justification…we’re not a thermometer simply telling the temperature of the culture but we’re a thermostat. We’re supposed to have an influence on the culture, not simply to follow the culture' - JAMIE FRANKLIN

On unvaccinated churchgoers:

'The crucial issue as far as Christian churches are concerned is: am I supposed to say no to somebody who doesn’t want a vaccine? Someone who is in obedience to their conscience? And, as they see it, in obedience to the commander, Jesus Christ? Am I to say to them, ‘Well, then you cannot come into the church of Jesus Christ, your obedience to Jesus prevents you from coming into worship?' - WILLIAM PHILIP

'As ministers of the gospel, our message is to not stay at home and stay safe. It is that the only salvation is Christ — he’s the only one who can save us from death. So if people want to take a vaccine because it will protect them and they feel it’s right for them, that’s great. But as ministers of the gospel, our message is that ultimately Jesus is our Saviour, and not a vaccine or indeed any medical treatment' - JAMIE FRANKLIN 

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