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  • Writer's pictureH.D. Campbell

Freedom of Religion vs. Public Safety vs. Freedom of Assembly

There's been a lot of rumblings ever since Coronavirus (Convoid-19) turned into a full pandemic about businesses, schools, and churches closing which makes the latter a huge controversy in itself, especially with the Easter holiday approaching.

When this Pandemic hit, we had to learn how to live "a new normal". We had to learn new terms like "social distancing" because the disease is communicable. In fact Convoid-19 is so communicable that stores are opening special hours, businesses can only have so many people in a building, and that even means churches. Churches (like schools) are the hardest hit because of the numbers of people in close proximity of each other.

Many school districts compensated by having online classes for their students with the local cable company sponsoring free internet for those kids who don't have internet so the kids don't get behind in their studies. Students are also given free materials like tablets from the schools for those without electronics in addition to free lunch to those who want it. The debate however isn't with schools, it's more with churches closing their doors.

Let it be clear that neither President Trump nor any White House official or any local officials said anything about churches cancelling their services. They did mention closing their doors for everyone's safety. Despite everyone's misconception of the virus, it is a communicable disease which can be transmitted through physical contact. Without getting into too much detail about the disease, depending upon your current health, you could get sick and even possibly die from complications of Coronavirus.

Critics of the church closings believe that the government is shutting out God and violating Church & State. I disagree because again no one said church services were canceled. A week before the government ordered the lockdown of cities and barring people from public places with less than 10 people, churches like Friendly Temple Church in St. Louis voluntarily closed its doors and opted to have church online through their app, website and social media.

Pastors throughout the country are finding and have found ways to have worship. Over the past couple of weeks, churches not only have been going online for services, a few churches have gotten creative with carside parking lot services. With permission from the local municipalities, members park in the parking lots in cards with no more than three or four people and being in their cars follow social distancing guidelines.

Services like this one in Indiana (courtesy of a Time Magazine contributor) shows a carside service. One of these locally here in St. Louis was done on Palm Sunday in which the pastor and a handful of members handed out palms to the cars. There are ways to have service without putting the congregation at risk.

Megachurch Pastors T.D. Jakes & Joel Olsteen are also going online without a full congregation for their Easter services. Olsteen in fact will have a start studded event with Mariah Carey and Kanye West. Smaller churches with smaller congregations who don't need assistance either take to Facebook Live or either prayer lines. The bigger churches are adding prayer lines along with their online services.

Tithes and offerings are offered through CashApp, PayPal and other payment sites. Police have shut down a few service with a few pastors still determined to hold church despite the stay at home "social distancing" order. Critics are praising these pastors while not understanding this behavior putting people at risk. These pastors have told people that God will protect them despite members at a few of the services catching Convoid-19 after attending the services.

The Governors of Florida and Louisiana have both loosened their restrictions on church services despite the virus not reaching its peak yet and people are still dying. The point is, this has nothing to do with The Separation of Church and State because no one cancelled service. On the flip side, I do understand the importance of church and the fellowship with others. However, the time doesn't allow us to do so. The doctors and nurses that are on the front line are servants of God and many others are advising all of our elected officials and whether they choose to listen or misinterpret depends upon the individual official.

This cartoon isn't mine but I feel it's a best way to end this. As always, this is my opinion. Take it as you want.

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