Commentary, COVID-19

Editorial, responsible religious leaders: Rushing back to church was and is a mistake (Video)

In case you missed it yesterday, be sure to check out the Sunday lead editorial in the Winston-Salem Journal entitled “A prayer for judgment.” In it, the paper rightfully critiques a recent federal court decision allowing churches to again hold large, indoor services as the pandemic continues to rage. In the ruling, Judge James Dever stated that “the Governor appears to trust citizens to perform non-religious activities indoors (such as shopping or working or selling merchandise) but does not trust them to do the same when they worship together indoors.”

Here’s the Journal in response:

As we see it, the issue here isn’t “trust.” It’s a highly communicable disease that thrives in close quarters — and has proven especially transmissible in religious services. On Mother’s Day, 180 people were exposed to the novel coronavirus during services at a church in California after a person who had attended later tested positive for COVID-19. The service had been held in defiance of stay-at-home orders….

The governor’s cautious and incremental approach to resuming life as we used to know it — or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof — is the right strategy. But he chose not to appeal. So, for now it will be left to faith leaders to decide for themselves. We hope they choose wisely, but we worry. During a Raleigh rally in favor of the lawsuit, speakers cited safety concerns as top-of-mind. Yet many attendees neither wore masks nor practiced social distancing.”

Even in light of the ruling, many faith leaders do appear wary of the health risks, including 75 churches, mosques and temples in Charlotte. “Lest we forget, faith communities who sang together, shared meals, and stood shoulder to shoulder were initially hit hardest by the virus,” they said in a collective statement. “Regathering prematurely risks the spike of infection. It is the health, safety, and well-being of our communities and neighbors that motivate us towards making decisions that will care for and protect one another.”

And isn’t that the point of the rules in the first place? Not only to protect yourself and your loved ones but strangers as well — “to love thy neighbour as thyself.”

And here’s the Rev. Jennifer Copeland, Executive Director of the N.C. Council Of Churches with another common sense message:

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