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The vicar sends me a stern email about Dad's funeral - the Church of England is failing its parishioners monstrously

Tom Winnifrith
Wednesday 28 October 2020

I have been sent a stern email by the Vicar in Shipston about tomorrow’s funeral for my father. She knows my views and position but reminds me that the Church is only following the law in requiring us all to muzzle up and not sing. Naturally I have replied but the attachment below, the Church’s guidance on Covid prevention, strikes me as a monstrous deception which, in time, it will be forced to recognise and will come to regret.

You may remember that the Vicar, who I stress is a good person who brought my father real comfort in his final days, says that one reason that she supports mask wearing is to protect her parishioners including a 99 year old lady. It is a laudable aim. And as such, the vicar follows what the Church says below “The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering can reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets and aerosols in certain circumstances, helping to protect others.”

But this is not true.  The Church is making it up. There is no scientific evidence that muzzling up reduces the spread of covid. Indeed, as I noted here, the CDC in America makes it clear that it does not. If the 99 year old wishes to live forever, with Covid not hastening her meeting with St Peter, she should not be conned by the CofE into thinking that a muzzled up congregation will protect her. It will not. It strikes me that in giving its ageing flock a false sense of security, the Church does the faithful no service at all. Isn’t there something in the gospels about how making things up is not what God wants us to do, but that is exactly what the Church is doing here. And it will have consequences. Oh yes: Proverbs 19:5 (King James Version natch)

The vicar also stresses that we must obey the law and implied that this is what my father would have wanted. To which I replied: 

My father would have pointed out that those who hid Anne Frank broke the law those who snitched on her kept to it.  I marched against Clause 28, it was an evil law and one folks were right to break. Who was the more blessed in the eyes of God: Those who broke the law to end Apartheid or the jailers on Robin Island? I know what my father would have said.  Perhaps we can discuss laws in the Balkans to suppress the Vlach language – you think my father would have supported them or broken them?


In terms of the law as it stands, you will also know that you are not meant to challenge those without a mask lest the reason be one of huge personal trauma. I accept that you must remind me of the law . I will act as my father would have done in good faith. If you think my father would have wanted me to cower and hide and stay silent then you knew a different Tom Winnifrith to the man I knew. His glowing pride in the way that my daughter, Olivia, has stood up to these pointless rules was a true joy in those last few weeks. 


And that brings us to Olaf who has a genuine medical reason to why she cannot wear a mask. She thus needs extra social distancing in the eyes of the church although, as someone who has had Covid, she is probably the least likely person present to spread it. Should she stand, tearful and alone at her Grandfather’s funeral? Is that what a caring God would want on the basis of bogus science?


I thus offered that I, without mask, will stand next to an unmuzzled Olaf at the back so that she is not alone. The vicar greeted this with delight and says that the two pews in front of us will be sealed off to stop us spreading the plague. But then she reminds us that we cannot sing, although at the front of the church a choir will do just that. And I am not required to muzzle up when I stand at the front reading loudly both a lesson and offering a few words about my father.


Of course I shall sing, as will Olaf. If the Church wishes to take time off from making up scientific fantasies to lull little old ladies into a false sense of security, to report me to the Old Bill, my lawyer, cc’d into all correspondence, is on standby. Indeed, if the Church of England thinks that covering its posterior by enforcing insane laws matters, I have urged the vicar to report me to the Police. The last thing I want is the Church or the vicar to get into trouble.

However, my understanding is that when the Bible talks of obeying laws, it is of obeying God’s laws, not necessarily those of man. I find it hard, for instance, to think of Jesus smiling in approval at all those Good Germans who were so keen to obey orders 80 years ago. Forced mask wearing is a trivial matter when compared to what Good Germans did, but that does not stop it being unjustifiable. 

Meanwhile, as my father might have asked, in its logic paper, can the Church explain, on the basis of what scientific evidence or moral imperatives it is upholding a law that allows 15 to attend a wedding (with bride and groom unmasked throughout) but 30 to go to a funeral?




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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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