Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Forgive them their jobsworth trespasses


IN the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: ‘Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.’

Not any more they shan’t. Not in Lockdown Britain, it seems. Instead, they that mourn look more likely to be confronted than comforted.

I’m not religious these days, but the latest story of coronavirus jobsworthery at a funeral service left me fuming.

As minister Alison Davies stood at her lectern in the council-run Coychurch Crematorium, in Bridgend, South Wales, leading the mourners in saying the Lord’s Prayer, a chapel official stepped across and told her she had breached the rules. 

Apparently if more than one person prays, it counts as ‘chanting’, which is not allowed because it could spread infection. 

‘I was quite flabbergasted,’ said Mrs Davies, who was left in tears. ‘There was no way we were chanting or shouting, the congregation were mumbling the Lord’s Prayer really. They were socially distanced and wearing masks.’

The funeral was that of 94-year-old grandmother whose family had requested the prayer at the end of the service. They too were said to be upset by the intervention.

The incident follows one at a crematorium in Milton Keynes, where a man attending his father’s funeral moved his chair next to that of his heartbroken mother so he could comfort her – and was told by an official to move away from her to maintain social distancing. 

Of course, as usually happens after council jobsworth cases are publicised, apologies were made, with hints that perhaps the mark had been overstepped.

And I suppose that in the end, you can’t blame employees for ‘only doing their job’ when they’re under strict orders from their bosses to make sure the rules are enforced to the letter. But at funerals? Come on, everyone – show a bit of common sense and compassion.

Hopefully, both upsetting episodes were met with Christian forgiveness. But it’s a good job there were no jobsworths on patrol 2,000 years ago in Galilee, when Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. Good luck with trying to get a Biblical multitude to socially distance. 

And what about Jesus’s feeding of the 5,000? That would have had the officials frantically checking their rulebooks. Do five loaves and two fishes constitute a ‘substantial meal’?

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Henry Getley
Henry Getley
Henry Getley is a freelance journalist.

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