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Faith leaders concerned vaccine passports could be used to keep worshippers away

Quarantine facility Sydney Source: AAP

Some community and religious organisations say they're opposed to rules that would allow only fully vaccinated people to enter places of worship. Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities have spoken to SBS News about their concerns.

When New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced there would be greater freedoms for fully vaccinated people it raised concerns.

"The important thing to note, is when we get to 70 per cent double-dose, the freedoms that we'll be experiencing will be for those who are fully vaccinated. We know that the risk of having or developing severe illness is reduced when you're fully vaccinated, the risk of you getting the virus or passing it on to others is severely reduced when you're vaccinated. But also at 70 per cent double dose, there'll still be restrictions in place.

For those not vaccinated, life could remain much the same as it is now, still locked down except for essential services.

But faith leaders say worship in a church, mosque, temple, or synagogue should be considered essential.

Some are lobbying Health Minister Brad Hazzard directly on the issue, saying some clergy have publicly contemplated civil disobedience if the government mandates full vaccination for worshippers.

Representatives of the Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh faiths have told SBS News about their concerns.

Anglican minister Phillip Colgan is Senior Minister of St George North Anglican Church.

He says civil disobedience is not what he is advocating for, nor is it the way forward.

"The conundrum for Christians I think here is that the general stance of all Christian churches is to comply with the government and to encourage that from all Christians. In the New Testament the book of Titus for instance says 'remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient to be ready to do whatever is good', and that is why we have been so willing and happy to give up our rights if you like through this whole pandemic to do what's been needed for the good of society, following government guidelines."

Click on the player at the top of the page to listen to the audio in Punjabi.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 meters away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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