There are a number of pastors, some running large churches, who believe they should be allowed to meet in-person regardless of the restrictions in place for other indoor venues. They don’t want to mandate masks. They don’t really stop people from interacting with each other. We know this because we’ve seen videos of their services.
Those pastors generate a disproportionate number of headlines because, well, they’re insane. They’re putting people in danger and they don’t give a damn. You might get the impression that they represent a large segment of the Christian world.
But here some sobering news: According to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, the vast majority of Americans — 79% — believe houses of worship should be subject to the same rules as everywhere else. More importantly, 74% of Christians agree with that sentiment. Among evangelicals, who are less prone to taking this virus seriously, it’s 62%.
It’s somewhat refreshing to realize most people are sensible… but it’s truly troubling that anyone would think a church should face fewer restrictions when it comes to a virus that doesn’t care what religion you are.
The same survey found that only 18% of evangelicals say their churches are closed. Most of them (64%) said their churches are open “with modifications.” A shocking 18% said things are already back to normal. Compare those numbers to those of Historically Black Protestants: 41% say their churches are closed, 46% say their churches are open with modifications, and only 10% say their churches are operating the same as always.
18% of evangelical churches still represented several thousand congregations.
When the members of your church embrace right-wing talking points and hyperbolic claims of religious persecution, as white evangelicals are prone to do, they’re bound to make idiotic, irresponsible decisions. Churches are really no different from schools in this regard: Lots of people are in a space where they’re meant to interact. Honestly, you can’t stop them from hugging their friends and talking to each other.
And yet while most public schools have switched to online learning, and the ones that haven’t are learning the hard way that they should’ve done just that, many churches still believe they don’t need to take a whole host of precautions.
The pandemic will be prolonged because too many people in positions of power insist there’s nothing to worry about. They’re wrong. Unfortunately, we all have to suffer because of their irresponsible actions.
(Featured image via Shutterstock)