This ought to be the default, common-sense position for all people who care not just for their own lives, but for the lives of others too. As such, the language in the open letter below is unremarkable, except that it comes from church leaders — a group that has produced and encouraged some of the most blithe, selfish, irresponsible, murderous behavior in recent memory.
As the Episcopal Bishops of the State of Michigan and as a people of faith, we follow the commandment Jesus gave us — to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” Loving our neighbors these days in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, means setting limits: quarantining, refraining from traveling, physical distancing when in public, and closing down places of gathering where transmission is likely. This is how we love our neighbors — by working to slow the spread of this extremely contagious, life-threatening virus.
In March, we issued a directive to close all 203 Episcopal Churches in our state despite the religious exemption offered by the governor. We believe it’s our duty as bishops and as citizens to relinquish our right to gather together in-person during this most Holy Season. We know that coming together, even for the best of reasons, can spread this disease.
That’s from a public declaration by Episcopalian leaders Bonnie A. Perry, Whayne M. Hougland, Jr., and Rayford Ray. I know: They don’t deserve a cookie for displaying concern for others and overall decency — again, those sentiments should be the baseline for any Christian. For any human being. And yet — well, you know. To the huge right-evangelical wing of the Jesus faith, the bishops’ kind of statement is almost heretical.
We support Governor Whitmer’s current directives and urge her to continue to protect the people of Michigan by listening to the recommendations of healthcare providers and scientists…
Yes. Yes please. Before it’s too late.
…and grounding herself in compassion and care for her people. Our state should reopen only when we have the proper safeguards in place — control of infection rates, available virus testing and tracing, increased healthcare capacity, and a plan for how to implement changes as we return to the new normal. And, when the pandemic is behind us, we urge our political leaders to consider how the injustices exposed in this crisis might be addressed — how together we might stop hunger, end poverty, eliminate racism, and the violence that plagues our world.
I’d be glad to break bread with these people. Too bad that U.S. Episcopalians only number 3 million, or 1.2 percent of the adult population.
(Image via Shutterstock)