The President said today that he will “override the governors” and force states to allow churches to open. Churches should not be opened (or closed) by order of a president, but because it is safe to do so. To open churches before it is safe would needlessly put more lives at risk. And that would be the opposite of pro-life. Governors and religious leaders should follow the advice of public health experts and epidemiologists to help prevent the spread of [the coronavirus] infection and preserve life. Everyone wants to go back to church, including me, but not at the risk of increased infection and death, especially among the most vulnerable.
Churches are indeed essential for Christians, and the desire to worship together is a holy desire. But holy though your desire may be, it's not just about you and your desire. It's about protecting the other person, especially if you are, like many people, asymptomatic. Wearing masks, maintaining social distance and even not gathering in churches protects the other person.
There have already been confirmed cases in Texas and Minnesota where Catholic churches have opened and the priests were found to have been unknowingly infected. Coming into contact with their parishioners, and exposing them to infection, may end up causing deaths, especially among the most vulnerable – the elderly, who often make up the majority of churchgoers.
I'm not sure why this is so hard to understand. If you have the measles and a doctor says, “Don't go to church because you might infect a woman who is pregnant, ” you don't rail at your doctor for “impinging on your freedom.” You listen to the doctor, make the sacrifice, and stay home, as a way of protecting the other person.
All these preventive actions are ways of caring of the other person – that is, ways of loving.
Related Off-site Links:
Trump Declares Houses of Worship “Essential” and Threatens to Override Governors – Jordyn Phelps and Elizabeth Thomas (ABC News May 22, 2020).
Minnesota Church Groups Divided on Govenor Tim Walz's Orders – Jean Hopfensperger (Star Tribune May 22, 2020).
Minnesota's Catholic Bishops Say They'll Defy Walz's Limits on Church Attendance – MPR News (May 20, 2020).
Not Attending Church Won't Kill Anyone, But Rushing to Reopen Might – Jennifer Brooks (Star Tribune, May 22, 2020).
Pro-Trump Doctors to Promote Reopening States Despite CDC Warnings – Democracy Now! (May 22, 2020).
Churches Obsessed With Their Right to Reopen Are Missing the Point – Peter W. Marty (The Christian Century, May 18, 2020).
“I Dissent”: David Haas on Re-Opening Church – David Haas (Pray Tell, May 14, 2020).
Four Concepts to Assess Your Personal Risk as the U.S. Reopens – Leana S. Wen (The Washington Post, May 21, 2020).
America, How Do You Grieve 100,000 Lives? – John Pavlovitz (JohnPavlovitz.com, May 22, 2020).
UPDATES: Gov. Tim Walz to Let Minnesota Churches Open at 25% Occupancy – Christopher Snowbeck and Shannon Prather (Star Tribune, May 23, 2020).
Muslim American Society of Minnesota Decides to Keep Islamic Centers and Masjids Closed – CBS Minnesota News, May 23, 2020).
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
• Hope and Beauty in the Midst of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic
• A Prayer in Times of a Pandemic
• An Infectious Disease Specialist Weighs-in on Covid-19
• Marianne Williamson: In the Midst of This “Heartbreaking” Pandemic, It's Okay to Be Heartbroken
• The Calm Before the Storm
• In the Midst of Crisis, Learning Resistance and Vision-Seeking from the Indigenous and African-American Experience
• The Crisis Is Not About the Virus
• Examining the Link Between Destruction of Biodiversity and Emerging Infectious Diseases
• Something to Think About – April 22, 2020
• Marianne Williamson: “This Is a Time of Transformation”
• “You're All Kings and Queens”
• The Lancet Weighs-in on the Trump Administration's “Incoherent” Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic
• Memes of the Times