We need churches to be open during lockdown

The pandemic should not be keeping us from our faith communities.

Photo+by+Greyson+Joralemon+on+Unsplash

Photo by Greyson Joralemon on Unsplash

Brianna Clark, Opinions Editor

God calls the body of Christ to help each other in hard times, but it is difficult to serve one another when our places of congregation are closed. Given the gravity of the pandemic, it is understandable that churches, as places of socialization and large crowds, would be temporarily shut down. However, as other businesses and organizations begin to reopen, it is unfair to withhold the same opportunity from places of worship. With certain boundaries in place, we should be allowed the option to return to our Sunday ritual of attending church. 

THE FREEDOM OF RELIGION

The right to religious freedom means we have the ability to practice our personal faith without government penalty, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Of course, the coronavirus is a special circumstance and the needs of society must be considered, but the church and the faith community is a vital part of what it means to practice Christianity. We cannot keep churches closed for the entirety of this extended quarantine, or it will begin to breach our right to practice our religion. 

Our freedom to practice religion should be as free as our market. With restaurants, malls and other businesses reopening, keeping churches closed suggests discrimination. All are places full of people and run the risk of spreading the virus if careful precautions are not set in place. Yet businesses have largely been trusted with putting safeguards in place, while in some areas churches have not. Houses of worship should be allowed the same chance to open with caution and following safety procedures. 

FOLLOWING PANDEMIC PROTOCOLS

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has recently allowed for places of worship, in certain counties, to reopen with restrictions—they must be outdoors and with modifications. The Centers for Disease Control offers many safety protocols for faith communities to practice and they should be adhered. There should be proper socially-distanced spacing between seats with a reduced quantity of attendees and precautions such as masks, hand sanitizer and eliminating communal use items like Bibles and hymnals. In addition, proper cleaning and disinfecting needs to be enacted. Some churches may not be able to reopen due to a lack of facilities conducive to these measures, but they should at least be given the opportunity to try following the state’s guidelines. 

FOSTERING FAITH AND COMMUNITY

The purpose of church is to offer biblical teachings and spiritual development—two things that we are not meant to acquire solely in isolation. Hebrews 10:25 commands us to meet together so that we may encourage one another. Without church we lose that vital support of fellowship. Although most, if not all, churches are streaming services online, the elements of community and discipleship are greatly weakened. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, one-third of practicing Christians have stopped attending church, even online. Opening churches is needed to support Christians who may struggle with holding fast to their faith. 

IN CONCLUSION

Reopening churches would not require everyone to suddenly come rushing out of quarantine. The immunocompromised and those against breaking their quarantine still have the option of watching services online. That is not something that should ever change. However, at this point in the pandemic, in-person services should be available for those who would like to re-enter a faith-filled community in a socially-distanced environment. 

We do not want to worship unsafely, but neglecting worship all together cannot be the alternative. 

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