Kevin Lundberg, former Colorado state senator and guest writer at Charisma Magazine, doesn’t like that churches are closed while grocery stores are not.
That feeling is perfectly valid — we’re all frustrated that our usual dwelling places are unavailable for the next weeks, months, or longer. But Lundberg clearly doesn’t understand the reasons behind the closures.
Something is radically wrong when dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of people can gather at the local grocery store, constantly walking through most of the facility, but not be allowed to attend their local church service, even if the church is strictly practicing social distancing.
What is the legal justification for relatively free access to physical food, but tightly restricted access to spiritual sustenance?
Churches and other faith-based organizations are not recreational clubs. They are an essential part of our culture that sustains us individually and as a nation. This is why they are different from movie theaters, retail stores and other public places of business. Religious organizations are constitutionally protected from government control.
Let’s unpack this.
Grocery stores aren’t social gathering places. Sure, you might run into someone you know, but the aisles are tight and the carts take up space, so no one hangs out there for very long. Certainly not longer than you have to be; no one lingers in a grocery store the way you might when you’re surrounded by friends. Now more than ever, going grocery shopping is a “get in, get out” kind of deal. (You’re also not supposed to bring your kids shopping if you don’t have to.)
Churches, on the other hand, are places where people are meant to spend a long period of time. There’s the worship portion, which could be anywhere from half an hour to an hour, if not longer. Then there’s often a social hour. In the pews and after, people tend to gather closely, exchanging handshakes and hugs, which is against social distancing guidelines. Even if social distancing guidelines are enforced, it’s not unlikely that churchgoers will be overwhelmed at seeing friends they haven’t seen in weeks, and violate the guidelines without thinking twice about it. For practical reasons, it’s best to keep churches closed to ensure everyone’s safety.
Also, you can’t get food over Zoom.
The rest of the article is an unnecessary — and false — diatribe about how the government is trying to restrict religious freedoms. They’re not. Pastors can use the internet to share sermons and keep in touch with congregants. Churchgoers are still free to read and discuss the Bible online, just as they can donate to the church from a distance.
The sooner we abide by sensible, science-based guidelines, the sooner we can return to our normal lives. But we’re not there yet. So churches, like schools, need to wait in order to make sure people aren’t in danger.