Boris Johnson doesn’t get God

Nov 6, 2020 by

by Giles Fraser, UnHerd:

Many in my congregation were in tears on Sunday morning as I announced that churches were being ordered to close their doors once again. I had found out only a few hours earlier, since the Prime Minister hadn’t seen fit to mention it in his public statement the previous afternoon. “The right to freedom of religion is enshrined in Magna Carta and it is of the very essence of our common life that the liberties and freedoms of the people of this land extend to public worship,” wrote my own Bishop in a letter to his clergy. But Johnson didn’t bother to explain why — or even that — we were being shut down. We were in the small print, announced after the fact.

Some might wonder what my congregation was so afraid of? After all, private prayer is still allowed. But this argument profoundly misunderstands what churches do and, particularly, how they function to combat loneliness. By loneliness I don’t just mean the experience of being alone, but something far more existentially corrosive.

Millions of us are once more being locked into the fortress of our own homes, with little relief, without the comfort of company, without the presence of another’s touch or conversation. Even before Lockdown 2, loneliness was at epidemic proportions in this country. Now it represents a full blown emergency — with huge consequences for our mental and physical health.

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