With some smart planning and careful measures, churches should be allowed to open their doors again without punishment, says a religious liberty attorney who is suggesting a date to make it happen.
Liberty Counsel attorney Mat Staver calls it “ridiculous” and “unconstitutional” for governors and mayors to force churches to keep their doors closed during the coronavirus pandemic.
“You don’t have a First Amendment right to go to a liquor store, or to a Walmart or Kmart, or some other place,” he says. “But you do have a First Amendment right to exist as a church.”
Lights stayed off on Easter Sunday
Nearly four weeks have passed since most U.S. churches turned off the lights over fear of the COVID-19 virus spreading in the congregation, especially among the elderly. But those churches are now witnessing their communities pick and choose what is “essential” for their city, county, and state.
More recently, tens of millions of Christian believers spent their Easter weekend service aways from the church pews on the Church’s most special Sunday of the year.
Mirroring the fight over closed-down businesses demanding the right to open back up, and the public pushing back against “lockdown” orders, the legal and moral fight over churches opening their doors is happening in communities across the country.
OneNewsNow has reported on two Mississippi churches that were punished by police officers for holding “drive-in” services. The mayor of Greenville backed down after attorneys representing the churches sued in federal court.
In Kansas, a federal court has issued a temporary restraining order after the state’s governor banned church gatherings of 10 or more.
Mike Farris, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, said the judge pointed out that Gov. Laura Kelly has stated religious services are an “essential service” but it was the only “essential” activity that was also banned by Kelly’s order.
Left-wing media outlets, meanwhile, are publishing not-so-subtle stories of pastors who defied church-closure orders and have succumbed to the virus. The Washington Post reported April 13 on the death of Gerald Glenn, a prominent Virginia pastor who died from the virus after declaring that “God is bigger” than it, and an April 19 story reported on numerous Church of God In Christ (COGIC) bishops and pastors who have died from the virus.
Rawstory.com reported March 26 on the death of a Virginia-based Christian evangelist, Landon Spradlin, who dismissed the virus as media-driven fearmongering but caught it in New Orleans. Beneath the brief story, reader comments mock his Christian faith and suggest he deserved to die.
Let churches decide
According to Staver, the time has come for government to allow churches to open the doors and turn on the lights if they choose to do so, and he is suggesting May 3 for “Reopen Church Sunday.”
To keep the congregations safe, he suggests churchgoers maintain social distancing, church staff should thoroughly clean door knobs and restrooms, and restrict the number allowed in the service.
Every church would choose its own course of action, Staver continues, but churches that want to hold a worship service should have the legally recognized right to do so without being punished by the government.
Copyright American Family News. Reprinted with permission.