Churches are essential (and have a right to meet)

low angle view of clock against sky

Last week, the Supreme Court overruled an executive order from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo which limited attendance at religious services in certain areas which have been especially hard hit by Covid. This decision changed a previous ruling from the court which sided with governors. With the New York case, it was new justice Amy Coney Barrett casting the vote which reversed the previous decision.

Coronavirus is a highly contentious subject both politically, economically, socially. And some people are indeed critical of this new decision, citing the risks of churches being epicenters for spread of the virus.

Essential business

I find it fascinating that casinos are open in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. That’s ok. Every weekend, I watch college football games with thousands of people in the stands. That’s ok. In much of the country, restaurants are still open for dine-in seating. We had lots of cases this summer too and large protests happened all across the country. But churches are the problem. Lots of businesses are designated as “essential” and open.

I’ve heard people argue that churches should just stream their services online. Ok. And instead of allowing dozens of people to go to the grocery store, why not issue people boxes of food or make people order online? If it’s so essential to limit churches to “slow the spread” and “flatten the curve.” If it’s so essential that churches not meet, why isn’t it important enough for us all to sacrifice on going to the grocery store in person? Sincere question.

Essential churches

Church is essential. And more importantly, it’s constitutionally protected. Most churches in America have 60 or fewer people attending on the average Sunday (and that’s in non-Covid years). Those numbers are almost certainly down this year as some people are choosing not to go to church.

I’m not someone who acts as though Covid is nothing. I appreciate the dangers of this virus and the impact that it’s had. But I also recognize that there are other significant costs in combatting this virus. Societal and Spiritual costs also matter.

I see a lot of contempt for people who dare question or push back against restrictions. As if doing that means you actively want to kill people. I feel like our society deserves a little bit of credit. We have a virus where most people are not in an at-risk group; where most people are not at an age where they’re statistically likely to die or to have major complications; and where the vast, vast, vast majority of people who test positive survive. We’ve all had our lives and society turned upside down for most of this year. And I see the contempt for anyone who would have the audacity to want to live like a free person in a free society.

Again. All of the businesses that politicians (who regularly disregard their own commands) have decided are “essential,” and yet the desire to go to church is somehow extra reckless or uncaring? It’s insanity.

Church is not a privilege. It’s a right.

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