Clerics warn Boris Johnson vaccine passports are ‘one of the most dangerous policy proposals in history of British politics’

Over 30 clerics from Northern Ireland have signed a petition warning the Prime Minister that vaccine passports are “one of the most dangerous policy proposals ever to be made in the history of British politics”.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 6:55 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 7:01 pm
A picture taken on March 3, 2021 in Paris shows a vaccine vial reading "Covid-19 vaccine" on an European passport. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP) (Photo by JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images)

By this morning 934 of the country’s Christian leaders had signed an open letter expressing their “serious concern” at what they describe as an “unethical form of coercion and violation of the principle of informed consent”.

The initiative has been co-ordinated by the host of a popular Christian podcast, Anglican Priest Rev J A Franklin and is supported by clergy from across the UK including Rev David Johnston, Minister Emeritus of Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church in Bangor, Rev Dr William Philip of the Tron Church in Glasgow, Rev Dave Gobbet, Pastor of Highfields Church in Cardiff and Rev Paul Levy of the International Presbyterian Church in London.

Rev Dr William Philip said there has been massive support for the initiative.

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He added: “It is clear to see from the extent and scale of the opposition from throughout the country and from a remarkable number of denominations that vaccine passports are considered to be divisive, discriminatory and destructive. We call on those in government to assert strongly and clearly that it will not contemplate this illiberal and dangerous plan, not now and not ever.”

They argue that to make vaccination the basis of whether someone is allowed entry to a venue “makes no logical sense” in terms of protecting others, because those who have been vaccinated have already received protection; there is no benefit to them of other people being vaccinated - and since vaccines do not prevent infection, even a vaccinated person could potentially pass on the virus.

“Secondly, the introduction of vaccine passports would constitute an unethical form of coercion and violation of the principle of informed consent.”

“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.”

They would never close their doors to people without a vaccine passport, they added.

The Church of Ireland and Presbyterian Church said they had not yet taken a position on the matter. The Catholic Church and Methodist churches had not yet replied.

Research published last week found significant proportions of the UK public have concerns about potential discrimination and surveillance issues surrounding vaccine passports.

Around 40% believe unvaccinated people will be discriminated against, according to research from the University of Bristol and King’s College London. Some 44% believe they will be sold on the black market, 25% believe they would reduce civil liberties, but half disagree. And 22% believe they will be used by the Government for surveillance, while 45% do not think this will happen.

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