A Bristol MP has asked the government to consider opening church doors on Easter Sunday.
In a letter, Jack Lopresti asked for a “temporary relaxation of restrictions” for private prayer.
The MP for Filton & Bradley Stoke said: “If the government allows for me to go to an off license, a takeaway or a local shop on Easter Sunday, providing I observe social distancing or take other necessary precautions, why can I not go to church and say a prayer, providing I do the same?
“I ask that this reasonable proposal to allow people to reconnect with their spiritual life, whilst still observing Government instructions to reduce transmission of infection be given strong consideration.”
Tory MP Lopresti has been roundly criticised for his suggestion, with everyone from constituents to clergy calling him “moronic”, “completely out of touch”, “irresponsible” and a “cockwomble”.
On Facebook, Lee Palmer wrote: “For clarity, I’m unfortunately one of your constituents and I think this is a terrible idea. You do not speak for me.”
Emma Penney said: “I’m not sure that this is in line with the majority view within Filton and Bradley Stoke, the Conservative Party or our safety. In addition, I would rather ALL outlets were closed Easter Sunday, including the off licence, takeaway and local shop that you mention visiting.”
Sara Say, a constituent and former employee of Bristol Diocese, said: “I am utterly appalled at this request and feel it has not been thought out properly.
“Prayers can be made anywhere at any time. Collective Worship has its place but NOT in the middle of a pandemic. I sincerely hope you consider retracting your request for the safety of your constituents and for the wider population.”
And a vicar, Richard Pennystan, wrote: “Christian homes have been places of prayer for nearly 2,000 years and will be even if we never open our buildings again.
“The Archbishops gave us clear instructions from the start, with common sense. We’re absolutely fine to pray from home thanks, please get back to serving the people of your constituency and allocating resources for those most in need or danger.”
Main photo: UK Parliament