Shropshire Star

Easing Sunday trading restrictions would 'affect human wellbeing', says Bishop of Shrewsbury

People should "raise their voices in objection" to easing lockdown restrictions on Sunday trading, the Bishop of Shrewsbury has said.

Rev Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury

In a homily during mass at Shrewsbury Cathedral on June 21, Rev Mark Davies said any further de-regulation of Sunday trading would have an adverse impact on “human wellbeing” and any economic benefits would not outweigh “human loss”.

The bishop warned of the loss of “shared human values” which the observance of Sunday as a national day of rest has involved for all in British society and spoke of Sunday being a key element of the country’s Christian identity.

Mr Davies said: “So central is Sunday to the Christian life, that for some 16 centuries public authorities have sought to safeguard Sunday as a day of worship and so a day of rest. From the beginning of the English nation, Sunday was so distinguished as a day different to all other days.

“As we emerge from lockdown, it is regrettable that the government is considering removing the remaining legal protections of Sunday in order to make it a full trading day.

"Proposals for unrestricted Sunday trading may be included within plans to revive economic activity and so place new demands upon the very shop workers and their families who have supported us throughout this crisis.

"Whatever economic advantages the government may calculate the human loss will surely be greater if Sunday becomes just another working day.

"We would be discarding the Christian heritage of a shared day of rest and all the human values which the observance of Sunday has involved. At a deeper level, Britain would be discarding a key element of our Christian identity for by logical extension either Easter and Christmas Day might equally be treated as merely another working day.

“If degrading Sunday as a day of rest, of family, of community, of worship marginally enhanced our faltering economy it would not be justified because of its deeper impact upon human wellbeing. This is a moment for us to raise our voices, so our Christian Sunday is not discarded by a political sleight of hand.”

The remarks follow the government announcement that the relaxation of Sunday trading rules could be a key point of its forthcoming coronavirus recovery bill.

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