Church COVID Restrictions

COVID-19 and Religious Freedom

The current COVID pandemic has affected almost every area of life in America, including normal church activities. Most churches cancelled every meeting initially, with some opening up partially and others completely after awhile, while still others remained closed. In many cases, these decisions were made by the churches themselves, but for others, decisions were forced upon them by governmental edict. Details vary from state to state and the situation highlights the issue of religious freedom with special focus upon the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Many Christians have given more thought to religious freedom this year than perhaps ever before. What has this pandemic taught us about religious freedom in America?

Churches Are Subject to Some Government Regulations

Contrary to the thinking of some, churches are not entirely exempt from government authority. Building codes, zoning ordinances, and similar requirements affect houses of worship as much as they do businesses and private citizens. Just because a building is used for religious purposes does not exempt it from regulation. Government has a legitimate role in the welfare of all citizens, and churches must comply with the same safety regulations that apply to everyone else. Government has a legitimate role in protecting citizens from various dangers, including diseases.

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COVID, the Church, the State and a More Excellent Way?

I wrote this article for the congregation where I serve, based on our specific context. It may not be your context!

What to think about government public health edicts and the Church regarding COVID-19? In an outburst of representative frustration, a Southern Baptist theologian recently posted the following on Twitter in response to his Governor’s new lockdown restrictions which, among other things, forbade dancing:1

As the American philosopher Yosemite Sam has often remarked, “them’s fightin’ words!”

Basic principles

We begin with some principles to help us consider how to react to the latest public health directive from Governor Inslee.

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Justice Alito: Some COVID-19 church restrictions blatant discrimination

"The nation’s High Court allowed blatant discrimination to stand in at least two cases limiting church activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito told the Federalist Society Thursday (Nov. 12)." - BPNews

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Churches in England to close for public worship

"Churches in England are to close for public worship from Thursday, after the Prime Minister announced another month-long national lockdown to curb the rapid rise in coronavirus infections in the country.... pubs, restaurants, gyms, and non-essential shops would close, but schools, colleges and universities could stay open." - C.Times

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Federal judge rules Colorado’s mask mandate, restrictions on churches are unconstitutional

"A federal judge has ruled that Colorado’s capacity limits on places of worship as well as the requirement that attendees wear masks for the duration of religious services are unconstitutional." - CPost

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