Police were called to break up a church congregation as they are not allowed in Wales’ firebreaker lockdown.
New Hope Community Church in Llanrumney, Cardiff, posted a video to its Facebook page showing the moment where officers entered the building to stop the service.
‘It’s a strange season,’ the video caption said.
‘If someone would have said a year ago that gathering to worship your God and praying together would be interrupted and disbanded by the police, no one should have believed it. But here we are. 2020. Wales. UK. It is an illegal thing to gather. To sing. See for yourselves.’
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A person recording the video, who is wearing a mask alongside everyone inside the church, is heard saying: ‘We are at church right now and the police just showed up.
‘They have knocked on all the windows and the doors, they shined flashlights, so please pray for us right now.
‘I’m just letting you know this is happening. This is in Cardiff. We are not even in a third world country right now, this is in Cardiff.’
A South Wales Police officer in the video tells the congregation they have received phone calls from members of the public who are concerned about a gathering inside the church.
He says they are breaking lockdown regulations, asks them to leave the church and to wait for the 17 days to ‘blow over’.
After a discussion with the police officers, the congregation agrees to leave the church.
One person, who appears to be the church pastor, addresses the police officers in the video: ‘This is really strange and, I say it respectfully, we love you guys as police officers and we are not law-breaking people.
‘But when they say to us that it is illegal to come and worship our God, this is the West, this isn’t a nation somewhere far off somewhere else.’
The pastor elaborates on the rules and explains how it is illegal to sing, claiming the Christian faith is ‘the only religion that sings’.
Another person in the video is heard saying: ‘You will be asking us not to believe next.’
The police officer challenges them and says the Government are not telling them not to worship, but are ‘asking you not to gather indoors’.
The police officer responded: ‘As a Christian myself, I am not going to do that. I have a Christian family. My own mother is finding other ways to pray.’
The video shows the people in the church finishing off their prayers before people beginning to leave.
South Wales Police and Christian Concern, the organisation which represents New Hope Community Church, have both been approached for comment.
It comes after church leaders from across Wales wrote a letter to the Welsh Government seeking an urgent review of lockdown measures that ban places of worship from opening for three Sundays.
Lawyers acting for the group of church leaders argue blanket restrictions imposed on Welsh churches are ‘unlawful and unnecessary’.
They say they will seek a judicial review of the ban early next week if they do not get a response from the Government.
Reverend Peter Greasley, a senior pastor at Christchurch in Newport, said closing places of worship is ‘probably illegal and is immoral’.
The church leaders, who work in some of the most deprived areas of Wales and are from a range of denominations, said they acknowledge the seriousness of the pandemic but have made places of worship safe to reopen and this ‘should be a matter for church rather than secular authorities’.
The letter has also been signed by church leaders in England, including former chaplain to the Queen Reverend Dr Gavin Ashenden.
‘Such a far-reaching and large-scale intervention may only be justified by the most compelling scientific evidence of a resulting benefit to public health,’ the letter says.
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