Wednesday, April 8, 2020
Forbidden by the Church. . .
I know it is out of good intention that churches and clergy have decided to shutter the doors rather than try other means to gather within the limitations. I know it is out of good intention that churches and clergy are trying innovative but less than faithful solutions (such as live streaming the consecration to bread and wine at home or drive by services where the Sacrament is distributed like fast food). My point is not to criticize the intentions but to suggest that there are other possibilities. Multiply the number of services.
If a Divine Service is held daily and several on Sunday that would accommodate several times the number of people normally in attendance at most smaller congregations. In places where there are several ordained serving one congregation, it is possible to run those services simultaneously but far apart in the building and make a good effort at reaching as many as can be reached.
My own parish (with two pastors) has had 18 Divine Services a week for several weeks, each with nine lay and a pastor with an abbreviated Divine Service (confession, absolution, collect, Gospel, hymn, homily, creed, prayer, preface, Sanctus, Eucharistic prayer, Agnus Dei, Distribution with social distancing, and benediction -- it takes about 40 minutes at most!). Most of the slots have been filled. If needed, we tell people to skip a week so that somebody else can fill their spot and so as many as desire may participate. It may not work in all places but it could in some.
Other parishes have scheduled sacramental visitation at the church for those who desire -- sort of like the sick and shut in communions except at the church building. In several places they have run these over several hours over several days and thus allow as many as desire to continue to hear the Word, be absolved of their sins, and receive the body and blood of Christ. Again, it may not work in all places but it could in some.
There have been ways used in the past in time of plague and pandemic rather than completely shuttering the doors and there have been options other than virtual communions that tend to spiritualize something intended to be physical. Perhaps we have rushed too quickly to our technology simply because we have it available?
Before you rush to judge, my point is this. The churches have acquiesced to shuttering the doors and turning the faithful away. We could be faithful and try other possibilities besides effectively forbidding the faithful from coming to the Lord's House. Not everyone would come but many would and desire such -- especially because they are surrounded by bad news, panic, and despair and their faith yearns the comfort and peace of the Word and Table of the Lord. We are not being unfaithful. We clean the building regularly after each group. We have hand sanitizer all over the place. We ask symptomatic people and those who have been around symptomatic people not to come. We are not flaunting the law or medical advice but working within their constraints. I know the intentions are good on all sides but I fear the churches have been too quick to close and wish we would have thought about other possibilities -- especially since this appears to be a long haul and not a sprint to the end of a pandemic.
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Church organizations should have joined in filing lawsuits charging state kakistocracies with violating the First Amendment by outlawing or limiting church services to 10 or less people. As long as the congregants practiced social distancing, use hand sanitizers as needed, and possibly wearing masks, church services should be allowed for those who are not symptomatic or have been around symptomatic people during this ChiCom pandemic attack.
While state or local health stormtroopers might claim the quarantine is for a significant health (i.e., non-religious) purpose, the state or local lockdowns of churches violate the other requirements of the Lemon Test.
The obesiant behavior and writings by leaders of church organizations (except for a few extreme pentacostal denominations) is reminiscent of the behavior of many church leaders in Germany when the Nazis rose to power. It seems many Christian members in the Kingdom of the Left are behaving as meek subjects (formerly called citizens) of their state or local regimes.
In Texas the Governor's Executive Order includes church services as "essential services" and are allowed as long as "practicing good hygiene, environmental cleanliness, and sanitation, and by implementing social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19" (aka ChiCom virus). However the Austin and Travis County Gestapo have prohibit worship services of any number of people at a church. At a minimum, daily imprecatory prayers should be raised to God regarding these people issuing and enforcing such demonic and unconstitutional restrictions.
Excellent points Mr Vehse.
We have learned that government sees religion and religious services as non-essential and superfluous. It is indisputable that organized religion has lost its seat at the table, when it comes to public-policy making. This is a stunning realization to those of us who feel that religion plays an important role in society.
To illustrate that churches were shut not due to health concerns, but instead because government deemed their function as non-essential, I would point to the fact that many churches (including the one I attend) created procedures to follow during the COVID emergency to put them in compliance with CDC guidelines. Nonetheless, our governor simply decreed by executive order that church services are forbidden and any gatherings for a church service will be 'broken up' (his words) by the police and the participants arrested.
Where is the LCMS Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty in all this? If the current situation isn't an attack on religious liberty, then I don't know what is. I think I know the answer. LCRL is maintaining a low profile because they suspect that if they were to file suits against state governments which have forbidden religious gatherings, the courts would rule against the LCRL and for the states, and thereby set a legal precedent for future state control of religion.
"...as long as "practicing good hygiene, environmental cleanliness, and sanitation, and by implementing social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19".
But therein lies the problem. Not everyone is doing that! People are not self-isolating. People are not practicing physical distancing. People are out and about on a daily basis. People are conducting themselves as though it's "business as usual". People are walking around who have the virus but whose symptoms have not yet manifested (thus they are spreading it without even know it!). Some people are experiencing symptoms but still don't care about the well-being of others and are still leaving their homes. People are, by nature, selfish, self-centred, and self-serving. And this pandemic hasn't changed that for A LOT of people!
Agreed, Carl; where is the ACLU when you need them?
Anonymous on April 9, 2020 at 10:50 AM: "But therein lies the problem. Not everyone is doing that!"
Anonymous, you deliberately chopped up my sentence so that you could take it out of context. That is dishonest.
What I stated was: "As long as the congregants practiced social distancing, use hand sanitizers as needed, and possibly wearing masks, church services should be allowed for those who are not symptomatic or have been around symptomatic people during this ChiCom pandemic attack."
Oh calm down, Carl! I didn't misrepresent you at all! I agree with all your "ifs" or "as long as". My point was simply that it has been observed (thus proven) that not all people are taking this disease seriously...not all people are following government protocol...not all people are washing their hands frequently...not all people are practicing physical distancing...not all people are self isolating when they return home from vacation or when they've come in contact with others who have...not all people care. And thus, not all people can be trusted that they are, indeed, infection free. Community spread occurs when people are walking around with symptoms but are too selfish to self-isolate and when people are walking around carrying the virus but are unaware of it yet (because they haven't been tested yet or their symptoms appear mild). This disease affects a wide range of people differently. Some get severely ill, some get deathly ill, and others only feel a little bit under the weather. Some can have the virus and not even know it. Some people might come to church on Sunday, feeling quite well, until later that week when the virus hits them like a truck! Thus, without knowing it or wanting it, they've just exposed everyone else who gathered with them that previous Sunday. That's my point.
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