Faith

Churches File Lawsuit Over Singing Ban

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Three California churches filed a lawsuit this week after the state imposed a singing ban claiming it violates their First Amendment rights.

As I Christian, I find myself more and more annoyed at some of my fellow Christians during the coronavirus pandemic. The federal lawsuit over a singing ban at houses of worship serves as another example.

The way I see it, churches should lead the way in helping their community. They should minister to people of all types. They should provide a safe haven and do all they can to protect those they are called to love.

What I have seen, however, is a growing movement that seems to shun science. Instead, it’s a continual pissing match in which people of faith seem to focus on presenting themselves as having extraordinary faith or trying to prove their desires outweigh public safety.

Weeks ago, I wrote about Christians who ignored mandates about not gathering in crowds. They included one who claimed she didn’t need to worry about the spread of COVID-19 because she stood “covered in His blood.” If that’s all it took, nothing terrible should ever happen to her or any other Christian.

But most of us know it doesn’t work that way. In fact, I know of two local pastors — surely they are covered in His blood, too — who came down with COVID-19. One of them spent days in the hospital. As I understand it, he even spent time on a respirator.

Science — and common sense — tells us a virus doesn’t care whether the person it can infect is a Christian.

Others claim wearing a mask in church is somehow an affront to God. They seem to argue it shows a lack of faith.

I wonder if these same people lock their doors at night when they go to bed. Isn’t protecting yourself from would-be burglars rather than having faith God will protect you just as much “an affront” by that logic?

I suspect God, who gave us brains, knowledge and wisdom to figure out such things, probably is performing a face-palm at such reactions.

Three churches sue over California singing ban

A July 6 document from the state of California’s Department of Public Health issued this advice to places of worship:

“Places of worship must therefore discontinue indoor singing and chanting activities and limit indoor attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower.”

The suit seems to be based on the fact that while Gov. Gavin Newsome implied restrictions on churches, he didn’t apply similar restrictions to massive protests.

But most of those protests, I’m pretty sure, were outside and most church services are inside. That’s one difference.

And the state isn’t banning church services completely; it’s restricting one aspect of the service. Some scientists say singing poses a greater risk of COVID-19 transmission.

However, one of the churches involved in the suit claims singing is a “Biblical mandate.”

I’m sure you can find that somewhere in the Bible.

I think, though, there’s an even bigger mandate: To love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. That mandate, which Jesus Christ Himself called “the greatest commandment,” might suggest we set aside our pride long enough to look out for one another.

There’s always a way…you just have to find it.

You could play a video of a performer singing songs of worship. I’ve attended plenty of churches over the years that offered songs sung to the congregation, not by it, for the purpose of contemplation. It can be just as powerful a worship moment.

I have also attended plenty of worship services during which some churchgoers did not join in during singing. Some may have no singing voice to speak of. Some may prefer to listen. Not once did I ever see anyone in authority at the church banish them from the service for violating that supposed “Biblical mandate.”

I understand that churches feel they have to look out for their First Amendment rights. Those rights are important.

They should be protected.

But this is not an attack on those rights. We remain in a public health emergency. We are facing a highly-contagious virus whose effects are still unknown.

If everyone would stop trying to find the next line to draw in the sand and instead focus on doing their part to protect others from COVID-19, we could help slow this thing down. That could give science more time to find a vaccine.

And that, in turn, could help everything get back to “normal” faster.

I wish more people would look at it that way.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.