Thousands of churches and synagogues across the country have moved their regular services from meeting together in one facility to gathering “together” via Internet teleconferencing. It’s a suitable approach for coping with a temporary problem.
But what if the problem becomes more long-lasting, with official directives banning gatherings of 10 or more people continuing past the end of April and well into … well, who knows how long? That’s when things could get very complicated and when that happens, Congress almost always gets involved.
PJMedia Managing Editor Paula Bolyard has a thoughtful, accessible look at why the situation is a challenge for Bible-based congregations now and a warning of what could be coming down the road.
Bolyard’s title sets the context: “Should Church Violate Shutdown Orders? The Answer Is More Complicated Than You Might Imagine.” That’s why Hill staffers need to know this stuff, regardless of whether they are followers of any particular denomination or faith, or none at all.
Bolyard provides a succinct description of the four positions currently being advanced among Christian and Jewish leaders, and does so in the context of the recent arrests of pastors in Florida and Missouri.
She closes with this worrisome thought:
“But what if this drags on for months on end? What if we’re still battling COVID-19 in September? In December or beyond. Then what? At some point the church, if it is to remain a church and be obedient to scripture, must meet together in person and participate in the sacraments of baptism and communion, whether or not the government approves.
“Millions of Christians have been martyred since Pentecost, when the Church Age began, because they refused to obey orders to stop meeting, stop preaching, stop talking about Jesus. Untold numbers of Christians huddle in underground churches in China and N. Korea, risking death and imprisonment because they choose to obey God rather than men.”
Boomers who recall the civil disobedience from the days of the civil rights movement may see such scenes replayed. And younger readers could witness dramatic illustrations of the courage required then and perhaps again.
First Liberty Institute’s “Guidance for Churches and Religious Institutions Facing Coronavirus Restrictions on Gathering.”
Alliance Defending Freedom: “The COVID-19 Response Affirms the Dignity of the Sick and Elderly, Contradicting These State Laws.”