16th March 2022 …. Last month Police and Defence Force personnel won a case against the Covid-19 vaccination mandate on religious grounds and the right to refuse medical treatment. Now it’s the turn of churches to challenge the Government’s harsh restrictions in the courts.
15 applicants (on behalf of 110 churches and two mosques) are taking the government to court over restrictions imposed under the Covid-19 traffic light system. They’re arguing that restrictions of church gatherings is unlawful under the Bill of Rights. Section 15 of the NZ Bill of Rights Act, 1990 states that every person has the right to manifest their religion or belief in worship, observance, practice or teaching, either individually or in community with others, in public or private.
Orewa Community Church, pastor Dave Bradley says the government is not respecting that religious practice is a fundamental right, along with things like healthcare, food, shelter and education.
“They put religion in the same basket with entertainment – but we are teaching and for our congregation going to church can be as important as supermarket shopping,” he says.
Madeleine Flannagan of Hibiscus Coast Legal Chambers is one of two barristers representing the 15 applicants. She says they would accept the option of seeing a vaccination pass, or a rapid antigen test taken that morning – or a test taken right then and there “
Note – Back in October 2021 we launched ‘Don’t Divide Us’, a petition opposing the Government’s discriminatory “No Jab, No Job” policy and calling for the use of COVID rapid antigen testing as an alternative for unvaccinated kiwis. More than 87,000 kiwis ended up signing that petition, which is currently going before a Select Committee to consider.