Priest Coughing in Front of Open Church Door
Attending church increases the risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus. Despite this, state governments are refusing to close churches down.

As coronavirus has many of us self-isolating, some state governors are passing laws to ensure that everyone else stays home too. 

And a Michigan ban of all gatherings of over 50 people would have stood as a shining example of decisive action to tackle the spread of COVID-19… were the state's religious buildings not lumped in with essential locations like hospitals and grocery stores as exceptions to the rule.  

 That’s right. Michigan’s ban on gatherings of 50+ people carves out exemptions for churchgoers, this despite the fact that churches, where dozens or even hundreds of congregants sit elbow-to-elbow for an hour or more, are a breeding ground for the spread of coronavirus.

Churches Free to Gather Despite Risk

With governors from hard-hit states like Washington, New York and California erring on the side of science and enforcing necessary social-distancing steps to reign in the pandemic, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer neutered her own executive order, announcing churches, mosques and synagogues would pay no penalties for defying that same ban.

The toothless law now puts elderly churchgoers and the general public at increased risk.  

GOP Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield took to Facebook to defend the move, insisting: “people have a God-given right to assemble and worship, and that right is secured by both the United States and Michigan Constitution.”

That they have the right to worship is indisputable. But do they have the right to assemble, when society’s well being depends on all of us doing our part and socially isolating?

Many have been quick to mock young Spring Breakers splashing it up without a care in the world. Yet every passing Sunday in this country brings the risk of unnecessary coronavirus spread in church pews nationwide, fueled in large part by pastors defying common sense and science and claiming that they are some kind of necessary spiritual first responders.

Bused In

The Life Tabernacle Church in Louisiana, for example, hosted a jaw-dropping 1,825 worshippers at their Sunday morning service. Many followers were picked up and driven in on 26 different buses to hear Pastor Tony Spell insist that anybody in the congregation suffering from COVID-19 would be cured by him “laying hands on them and praying for them and depending on God to heal their body.” Parishioners could also be seen touching each other and huddling together, most without even wearing masks or gloves.

Governor Edwards, meanwhile, could only urge Louisiana faith leaders to "not necessarily engage in mass gatherings where this coronavirus can spread.”

Church Goes Digital

Of course, there are some religious leaders doing their part to flatten the curve.

To their credit, many churches across the US have gotten creative in order to comply with state and federal mandates to reduce the size of gatherings, often wading into unchartered technical waters by either live-streaming or podcasting their services, or even meeting in smaller Sunday morning groups.

“We’re being very intentional in using language that ‘Church is not cancelled, it’s gone digital," explains Pastor Kevin Goss of La Grande Nazarene in Oregon, whose church recently decided to stream upcoming sermons to its 130-or-so congregants on YouTube.

The Faith Center, meanwhile, has decided to rejig its 500-person Sunday service by “promoting watch parties where people could be invited over” to view pre-recorded services and worship together at one another’s homes, albeit in smaller groups. “We’re hoping that will help translate to a more personal (level),” said Pastor Cameron Hefner.

Whatever the solution, it's clear that the status quo of the large Sunday mass makes zero sense in our current reality. It's adapt-or-die. Literally.

COVID-19 is, after all, a non-denominational virus. It doesn't care who your God is, or what special coronavirus-blocking powers your faith leader believes they have. And so this goes far beyond protecting religious freedom. This is about protecting human life.

What do you think? Should churches remain open and be exempt from mandatory closure laws? Is the risk to society at large worth the spiritual reward?


  1. Herbert Moore's Avatar Herbert Moore

    what is there to say - I suspect this may become a self-correcting phenomena.

    1. Annie Macleod's Avatar Annie Macleod

      Herbert Moore - it wouldn't be so bad if they were only infecting themselves but they could carry the virus back to their communities and to the vulnerable population. The law should include everyone. God is at home, as well as in a building.

    2. Br'er George's Avatar Br'er George

      Stewpud izazz stewpud duzz!

  1. Brien's Avatar Brien

    As I have always said, you are free to believe whatever you wish, as long as your behavior does no harm. In this instance, this behavior can do great harm especially when you consider all of the safer ways to congregate and worship, drive in, outdoor, electronic, etc.. I must conclude that the behavior of the church administration that still keeps it's congregation in great danger is criminal and should be treated as such.

  1. Rev. Sandy's Avatar Rev. Sandy

    God helps those who help themselves. He doesn't help stupid people who do nothing but pray.

  1. Reverend Cory's Avatar Reverend Cory

    Please stay home, self quarentine. As someone in the high risk category, over 60 and fighting cancer, you just might help save my life!

  1. Rod Gesner's Avatar Rod Gesner

    I feel for all the children and women forced to join in this insanity.. May they survive and learn from other survivors that science n medicine want you to live.. Most early religious laws were to prevent deaths n diseases from spreading.. Science has figured reasons and cures that any compassionate god would want you to follow.. But the elders that do not have the sense god gave them to stay home keep themselves and others safe??
    May your god forgive your arrogance AND KEEP YOU BY HIS SIDE


    1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

      Nobody is forcing them to do anything. They are doing what the 1st Amendment of the Constitution allows them to do and the states cant stop it if they wanted to

  1. Tom Thackrey's Avatar Tom Thackrey

    I understand blind faith. I don't understand stupid. Science and religion are not mutually exclusive. I suspect the motivation for this blatant disregard of public safety is GREED.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Totally agree! It’s greed, deception, and deep indoctrination. Mosques are equally just as full. Science, logic, and reason work in mysterious ways of reducing the worlds weaker intelligent species.


      1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

        No sorry Lionhart wrong again. its called the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution meaning that no state or locality, not even the federal government; can make a law that stops the free practice of religion.

        Seems you just got slapped with reality hey again and your anti religious bias was destroyed. I mean how exactly are you going to try and refute this "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech" I know you will try, but you will fail every time

        1. arawngraalrd's Avatar arawngraalrd

          First word of the First Amendment is Congress, not Government. Incorporation is a corrupt interpretation of the 14th Amendment, which restricts the states as Congress is restricted. t's generally a poor idea, for Government to interfere in Religion, but I don't see this as any exception.

  1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

    Um if anyone is so darn ignorant, look at the 1st amendment in the US Constitution. It clearly says that government CANNOT interfere with religions nor can they make a law that interferes with a religion. So they had NO CHOICE BUT to include churches in with the essential locations as if they tried anything else, they would be hit with a 1st Amendment violation lawsuit that they could not win so fast that it would make their heads spin. And this is for ALL religions from Christians to Atheists. and Any recognized religion in between.

    So why bother to complain, its in the Constitution and they must by constitutional law, follow it or face the wrath of the US Government. Science in this case has nothing to do with it and couldnt stop it if they wanted to as the law says different.

  1. Pastor Doug MacPherson's Avatar Pastor Doug MacPherson

    Many Church's elected to cancel service due to spreading the virus

  1. Dr Asha Sharma's Avatar Dr Asha Sharma

    If we have a global pandemic that will cause harm to people than we should pay attention. We all say that God gives us messages, well the almighty is sending a very strong message and we are not listening. Have we become so busy with the worldly things that we have forgotten the basics of our purpose in life God, Family, community, Society. During this time we should reflect of our purpose. May all stay healthy and blessed

  1. Vern Dee Wall's Avatar Vern Dee Wall

    The article was clearly written by an atheist to provoke comments. We call this "trolling".

    1. rev.heidianne's Avatar rev.heidianne

      give me a break!!

    2. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Try not to find it too difficult to discuss Monastery topics intelligently. Religious indoctrination can be a real bear at times don’t you think?


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