Private prayers should not be made public

A Church of England court has decided that prayer is a private matter that should not be recorded on CCTV cameras. The ruling was made in response to a Canterbury vicar who wanted to install security cameras in his church. The church court ruled that the cameras should be switched off during services and kept away from secluded areas set aside for private devotions.

There may be good reasons for having cameras installed in a church building but observing and recording private prayer times is not one of them. It is intrusive and serves no useful purpose.

In fact, Jesus taught his disciples in Matthew 6 that prayer is a private matter between the one praying and God. We do not pray to impress or entertain others but to speak to our heavenly Father. Recording on camera those prayer times – for whatever purpose – runs counter to that idea.

What is rather unusual in this decision is the requirement to switch the cameras off during services. There may be particular occasions when people might be sensitive to being recorded and possibly broadcast, such as at a funeral. But usually our meetings are designed to be suitable for anyone to access and participate. It would therefore seem both reasonable and desirable to record these meetings for others to watch.

Graham Nicholls, Affinity Director


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