It is time to reopen church doors
Editor’s note: This does not necessarily reflect the writer’s personal view. For the opposing view, see “Churches should look more like Jesus’ tomb – Empty.”
When pastors are arrested for holding church services and officers issue notices during an Easter service, congregations at home and in pews grow uneasy. What about religious liberty?
As another week goes by without a Sunday morning gathering, congregations are becoming restless, longing to fellowship with like-minded believers. It’s difficult to see church leaders arrested for bringing together people to worship and not worry about the limitation of religious liberty and the possibility of repeated history.
The U.S. was founded on the idea of freedom of religion without government interference. Are these incidents any different from when colonial Americans were told they could only go to a certain church? The difference here is they are being told not to go at all.
While a deadly virus separates issues of religious liberty in 2020 from issues of religious liberty in early America, the principle remains. Churches have gotten creative as they follow social distancing guidelines, using livestreams and video sermons to their advantage. But there’s something special to be said about worshipping with fellow believers in the same building.
When the government starts telling churches when, where and how they can worship, Americans should grow concerned. Wars have been started over this issue.
Obviously, when making this argument, a quick look at the separation of church and state is all you really need.
This idea of separation was not to protect the government from religious influences, but rather to protect the church from being told what to do by the government. Should that be forgotten because of a virus?
Precautions can be made to bring people together, especially for those at higher risk.
While a full Sunday service might not be viable for every church, why not smaller services all over town with more precautionary measures? Bible studies throughout the week can still abide by the social distancing guidelines of fewer than 10 people with their chairs spread out.
This is a time where people could use fellowship and community the most. According to a paper in JAMA psychiatry, some suggest that suicide rates will skyrocket during and after the period of quarantine, social distancing and self-isolation. Churches are a key player in helping those who struggle with mental health. The home and support system a church family can be for some people is no longer readily available, causing many individuals to feel utterly lost and alone.
The church should be on the front lines of this fight where they can. This includesproviding people with the community that saves lives. Churches have been closed for far too long. It’s time to reopen the doors. Surely, as we begin to see businesses like hair salons open for business, we can come up with a safe way for churches to open their doors as well.
Savanna Graves is the Asst. Feature Editor. Follow her on Twitter @SavannaLeigh