As a Christian it is hard to watch pastors across the country refuse to shut down Sunday services and gatherings, putting large numbers of congregants at danger. Even worse, some congregants and pastors have actually died already from this selfish behavior. Today I read of the death of the (self-appointed?) Bishop Gerald O. Glenn, who pastored a sizable church in Richmond, Virginia. During one of his last sermons at New Deliverance Evangelistic Church he was quoted as saying,
“I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus. You can quote me on that”
(Quoted from Bishop Gerald O. Glenn)
When speaking about the nature of the shutdowns going into effect across the country he states the following,
“I am essential,”
“I’m a preacher — I talk to God!”
(Quoted from Bishop Gerald O. Glenn)
I certainly cannot comment on whether or not he talks to God, but I am assuming that if God is talking to Bishop Glenn, he must not be listening. His family has now publicly stated that people should heed the advice of the professionals and stay at home.
Another Virginia pastor, Landin Spradlin, died of the Coronavirus that he likely contracted on a Mardi gras trip. Spradlin’s wife seems to offer some insight into her husband’s logic for not taking the virus seriously, saying,
“I was frustrated with the way that the media was very agenda driven – and it’s on both sides. I feel like the coronavirus issue turned into something that was ‘party against party’ instead of one nation under God,” (BBC)
Like many people who believe the media is an evil empire that is out to get Trump at every turn, the Spradlins ignored the many warnings by medical professionals and decided that it was all hype which was created to further divide the US population along political lines. Many people believe that the virus is being overplayed by the “left” to scare people or to make Trump look bad. Sadly, this point of view is getting people killed and placing many more in harm’s way.
Christians VS Coronavirus
It is difficult to say for certain why so many pastors are willing to risk the lives of their congregants but I think I have a solid guess. It’s the money, Lebowski!! Church giving always dips during a recession and it’s even worse when services are not being held. The vast majority of money giving to churches is done in person, through the offering. Not holding services for some churches means the pastor or it’s employees go hungry. Some will default on their debt. These are terrible ramifications but we cannot push parishioner’s lives in danger over bill payment.
The worst offenders of the shutdown will invariably be the southern-based mega-churches. Sadly, these pastors are still refusing to temporarily shut down. Mega-church pastor Rodney Howard-Browne was recently arrested for not complying with shutdown orders. However, it looks like the state of Florida is reversing that motion under the guise of “freedom”. Howard-Browne spoke on the matter, stating that he believes his church is somehow magically not able to get people infected. I assume he doesn’t know how viruses work.
“We are not a nonessential service,”
“You’re probably going to get infected at some other place, not here.”
Meanwhile, in my home state of Ohio, Solid Rock Baptist Church, which was also previously known as the home of the Big Butter Jesus statue, is refusing to shut down it’s services, which draw thousands of worshipers.
While I certainly understand why churches want to remain open, it is imperative that they shut down and move online immediately. This is not hysteria or liberal propaganda. The coronavirus does not care about your religious freedom. If you gather hundreds or thousands of people in a building and even one of them has the coronavirus, it is extremely likely that roughly 2-4% of those gathered will contract the virus. If they meet the next week it’s 8-16% depending on conditions. It spreads exponentially, hence the need to flatten the curve.
So, I’ll leave you with my final plea. Please please please stay home even if your church is still open. No one is going to care about your theory that it’s just hysteria while they are mourning your death. Moreover, if you are young and feel like you are exempt because it’s only killing older people, just remember that you are going to come into contact with many people who are at risk of dying from the virus and your selfishness could lead to others dying while you walk around feeling invincible.
The more seriously we take this virus, the faster we can move beyond it. If we don’t take this serious then it’s going to drag on and on.