With California now facing a rise in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom needs to put in place additional restrictions for the sake of public safety. To that end, earlier this week, the California Department of Public Health issued an updated set of guidelines for places of worship. They’ve been allowed to resume in-person gathering at 25% building capacity or 100 people maximum, but the new guidance included orders that pertain specifically to religious venues.
The most controversial item on the list? Don’t sing.
Discontinue singing (in rehearsals, services, etc.), chanting, and other practices and performances where there is increased likelihood for transmission from contaminated exhaled droplets. Consider practicing these activities through alternative methods (such as internet streaming) that ensure individual congregation members perform these activities separately in their own homes.
In a normal world, that would make perfect sense. People are wearing masks to prevent passing along COVID particles to others if they happen to be carriers. Singing, since it would presumably occur without masks, would only make the problem worse. More to the point: You don’t need to say that to restaurants and grocery stores because people aren’t doing anything even remotely analogous.
But the Religious Right is in an uproar over the suggestion as if it’s a form of Christian persecution.
Here’s Rev. Samuel Rodriguez forgetting that outdoor protests (where most people are wearing masks!) are completely and substantively different from indoor choir rehearsals:
You cannot permit tens of thousands to march in protest without masks and demand that 100 worshipers refrain from singing. That my friend is the very definition of discrimination. @GavinNewsom please stop discriminating! #inalienablerights
— Samuel Rodriguez (@nhclc) July 3, 2020
Naturally, Pastor Robert Jeffress made the same faulty analogy… which is even worse in his case since his irresponsible church hosted Vice President Mike Pence despite a COVID outbreak involving members of the congregation.
The scientific ignorance of evangelical Christians is exacerbating the spread of the virus. Government intervention seems necessary, but these people are reacting like it’s stifling their faith. Something has to give. I wish this weren’t true, but it may take the hospitalizations or deaths of church members before these pastors realize they’re the problems.
(Featured screenshot via YouTube)