Being Firm with Church Leaders
I grew up in a home where the moral grounding was simple. Put your faith in God and everything will work out. For most of my lucky life, things have gone very well. I’m no longer aligned with organized religion and churches, but I respect what they represent and what good they can do when the community comes together. I have always felt safe when visiting churches, synagogues and temples. Which brings us to COVID-19.
There are some people in America who truly feel that they can pray away diseases and disorders. Some even believe they can urge the Lord to eliminate homosexuality. In our world of science, we are sometimes asked to modify the text of holy scriptures. There are some religious leaders who believe that science is the enemy and the more we learn the more they must justify certain parts of the gospel. As I like to point out, George Washington came to an early death because the applied science of the day instructed doctors to drain pints of his blood to cure a cold. In President Washington’s case, a few good prayers may have kept him alive.
Some pertinent facts are in on this coronavirus crisis, if you get the virus, most likely you will not die. However, if you are part of the 1% that has an underlying condition, you could perish. So why are church leaders in many communities promoting services and urging their congregations to come together under one roof? Yes, people who are depressed and afraid need God right now, but what if some parishioners contract the virus while in the church? How is that possibly a good thing?
A foundation of our country is the separation of church and state. Some of our founders, like Thomas Jefferson, held that tenant more so than others, but it was also enriched by the First Amendment which clearly states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… “So, the same amendment codified freedom of both speech and religion.
Many government officials, especially those who cater to the religious right, do not want to come down hard on churches. They would never demand churches STOP gathering to exercise their freedom to worship, but this brings us to a higher authority, God. Most religions have a notion of a God, and this supreme power usually protects human life. You cannot be “pro-life” and spit into the face of a virus like COVID-19. People who come to your place of worship might bring young kids and babies and they are not immune to coronavirus. Even if you are okay with exposing older Americans to the germs, why would you take the chance of killing a young person or a baby?
I believe that a priest, minister, preacher, imam, or rabbi has a moral calling to protect their flocks. Just as we have seen with mass shooter situations, the leaders of the church have endorsed methods such as armed parishioners to save their followers.
Why would they put their congregation in harm’s way? They can say that God will protect the members of the church but surely, they understand disease, illness and death. One of their main jobs is providing comfort to people who are suffering. Don’t they understand that their ignorance and disregard could create suffering? What moral standing gives the clergy a pass on protecting their people from a dangerous pathogen?
There have been plagues and pandemics throughout recorded history. The Holy Bible uses them to show the power of the Old Testament God as well as some strange vindictive curses inflicted on those who hurt Christians, but that doesn’t mean that a gathering place can protect believers from a worldly disease. What would Jesus do? Well, he would heal the sick, but he would never place the weak in a dangerous place. So, why are the mega-churches and small-town places of worship not going online and bringing their messages to the congregations in a safe way?
As a member of society, and someone who respects freedom of speech and religion, I must disagree with our leaders who don’t take a bold stance on this misplaced faith. They don’t have to use force or penalize churches and their members, but they should make a strong statement that, for the benefit of the whole society, congregants should be smart. Just as I finished writing this piece, this news broke out of Florida. A Tampa megachurch pastor was arrested after leading packed services despite the “safer-at-home“ orders by the local authorities. The charge is unlawful assembly and violating public health emergency rules. Surely, the ACLU will take up this case.
The advice might be to pray at home, go on the internet and find church videos or live streams, but stop putting people in harm’s way. I’ll even pray for you, and that is truly saying something.
New Book About America
The book that tells it like it is…
Gold, God, Guns & Goofballs shows how we’ve wasted our GOLD on bad wars and corruption. While GOD is there for many people as a spiritual enrichment and the provider of glowing feelings, the truth is just praying and believing will not change our major arc. We don’t determine who gets a GUN. We aren’t sure if we have paramilitary groups ready to storm the White House or a White Castle. There is no control of weapons. The GOOFBALLS with the power constantly try to manipulate us into spending more money on bombs and tanks and wars. When all of our institutions are infected with neglect and fall in disrepair, we will only have ourselves to blame. This book is not an antidote for the left or right, it’s an accelerant to move the middle off their collective asses to go do something positive for America.