Yesterday, after dragging his feet for far too long, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order requiring people to stay at home for the next 30 days. It’s a wise move… a couple of weeks ago. Instead, it comes long after COVID-19 has affected citizens all over the state, including, famously, at Florida’s beaches over Spring Break.
But the order didn’t even go far enough. It rightfully says people should remain home except for “essential services.” But in addition to getting food or taking care of family members, those “essential services” include hunting, fishing, running, swimming… and going to church.
I repeat: Going to church is fine even though that’s one place we know strangers gather.
Just this week, a Florida pastor was arrested for violating his county’s rules, holding a service, and rejecting social distancing rules. Now DeSantis is basically giving people like him a free pass.
Well, kind of. The good news is pastors like Rodney Howard-Browne are still limited by local ordinances. In his case, in Hillsborough County, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said the new lax rules wouldn’t apply to him because local laws are stricter. That’s good news in his case. But even under DeSantis’ order, pastors in other parts of the state could still hold services provided they have no more than 10 people in the room. But among those 10, social distancing wouldn’t matter. As long as Jesus is in the mix, they can hold hands, sing, pray, and intermingle.
***Update***: Strike that last paragraph. Apparently, his order overrides local policies, which means churches are allowed to meet… which means DeSantis is actively working to spread the virus.
In other words, what DeSantis did is leave enough loopholes in his order for COVID-19 to spread almost as quickly as before.
At a time when people are trying to avoid contact in grocery stores, it’s appalling how some selfish pastors still want to meet in person (especially when live-streaming is an option), and it’s downright criminal that DeSantis thinks religious institutions ought to be an exception to the rule.
The virus doesn’t care what you believe. If strangers are gathering together, there’s a problem regardless of the reason. Leave it to a Republican, ignorant of science, to just ignore all that.
(Image via Shutterstock)