Cross-section of Christian leaders says extending Sunday trading hours will disrupt community life
They are warning that the impact of large stores opening longer will have a detrimental impact on community life.
The group, including a Roman Catholic and a member of the Church of England, has written to the Sunday Telegraph to oppose Government plans to deregulate Sunday trading laws.
The letter has been signed by Anglican Bishop of St Albans the Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith and Catholic Archbishop of Southwark the Most Revd Peter Smith, as well as a Methodist minister and Salvation Army colonel.
It claims that the current arrangements strike a balance between the needs of consumers and communities.
The letter states: “They make space for shopping, while preserving the common leisure time essential for family life and shared social activities.
“They also protect small stores from near-monopolies, and preserve the right of shop workers to spend time with their families.”
The Government is keen to press ahead with plans to allow local councils to extend Sunday trading hours by the autumn.
However the Christian leaders reference a recent study that forecasts no net gain for the economy if the plans go ahead.
They argue that instead the changes will result in a loss of market share for smaller shops.
The letter continues: “Most fundamentally, however, we are concerned that the further deregulation of Sunday trading laws is likely to disrupt the rhythms of community life that are so integral to the common good.
“In a world of increasing commodification the space for shared time and activities, central to human flourishing, is becoming increasingly rare.”
Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans; Most Revd Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark; Most Revd Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales; Revd Steven J Wild, president of the Methodist Conference; Colonel David Hinton, chief secretary of the Salvation Army and Revd David Grosch-Miller, moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, have all put their signature to the letter.
However,the government argues that longer trading hours on a Sunday will bring economic, as well as social benefits to families.