[Sorry for the glitch! I have corrected it. -MS]
We have heard about some church preachers demanding that their churches be allowed to have in-person services and violate the social distancing guidelines. Some may be doing it because of their belief that the god demands the actual physical presence of people close together while others may be doing it for ideological reasons such as that no government can tell them when and where they should go. They use the spurious argument that their god will protect the truly faithful.
The Life Tabernacle Church near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, expected a crowd of more than 2,000 on Easter Sunday despite a ban on gatherings of over 50 people in the state.
The church’s pastor, Rev. Tony Spell, said his faith would protect him and his attendees from falling ill. “God will shield us from all harm and sickness,” Spell told Reuters. “We are not afraid. We are called by God to stand against the Antichrist creeping into America’s borders.”
Spell made this proclamation despite having faced legal consequences for defying state restrictions in the past: He has already been charged with six misdemeanors for holding services.
But I am pretty certain there are more prosaic reasons. One is that not going to church on Sundays frees up one’s Sunday mornings for other things, including just lying in late. Once people find other fun ways to spend this new free time, they may get out of the habit of going to church and drop out permanently.
A more important factor is money. Churches are also a business and when people are not coming to church, there is no collection of money and the online collections may not be making up for the shortfall. Spell has even urged his parishioners to donate they their stimulus checks to the church, even though those checks are meant to tide people over the financial hit they are suffering due to the shutdowns. In this interview, he is challenged about the morality of making such a request.
The interviewer pointed out that some of the people in his church had been stricken with the virus and one had died and Spell replied that it could not be proven that they had contracted the virus while attending his church. But the question that I would have followed up with is how come his god did not protect those faithful people as promised even if they got the virus elsewhere? Does god have fine print in his promises that he will only cleanse the church of the virus and is not responsible for what happens outside, even to the faithful?