The leaders across different denominations state they are “wholly opposed” to the idea and warn it could lead to “medical apartheid”. Earlier this month the UK Government stated that “Covid-status certification could have an important role to play” as a temporary measure at events “where large numbers of people are brought together in close proximity”. The church leaders warn that introducing vaccine passports would be an “unethical form of coercion” and 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 life”.
They write: “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 leaders state they can “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,’” adding: “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 conclude: “[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.”
The Government has stated that Covid-status certification should “never” be required for access to essential shops and public services and public transport. However, certification could “potentially play a role in settings such as theatres, nightclubs, and mass events such as festivals or sports events”.
It has also pledged to “explore the equity and ethical concerns bound up with any form of Covid-status certification”.