Coronavirus: Christians must not use pandemic to sell religion, says church leader

‘The challenge is not to become good salespeople of religion as much as free gifts of God’s grace’

Jane Dalton
Thursday 26 March 2020 14:51 GMT
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The coronavirus crisis should not be used as an excuse to sell religion, a senior church leader says.

The Rev Dr Martyn Atkins, superintendent of the Methodist Central Hall Westminster, will use a BBC broadcast this Sunday to say Christians should not be “salespeople” of God.

Every Sunday the BBC is broadcasting a church service to a “national wireless congregation” as normal places of worship are closed.

Dr Atkins will say: “Lent is a time to seek not only to follow Jesus, but to become more like him. The challenge is not to become good salespeople of religion as much as free gifts of God’s grace in Christ, where you are, today, now.”

The service will be broadcast on all 39 BBC local radio stations in England at 8am. Broadcasts for other faiths are also taking place on local radio.

The Church of England and Catholic churches in the UK have closed all their buildings in line with the government ban on social gatherings. Many mosques in Britain have also shut.

However, not all countries are doing the same. Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, includes religious activities in its list of essential services.

US president Donald Trump has predicted churches will be packed again by Easter next month.

In South Korea, a religious cult was identified as the source of the country's outbreak, forcing its leader to later apologise.

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