Complaints are mounting about state and local politicians’ restrictions on religious worship in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
This week, a California county is facing criticism for introducing restrictions on singing and playing certain instruments in online worship services. Many churches now are doing online services, instead of in-person gatherings, to protect people from the virus.
As Fox News reports, Mendocino County leaders issued the new restrictions just two days before Easter Sunday. The order, which affects about 86,000 people in the county, prohibits religious leaders from singing in online worship services unless they are singing in their homes by themselves or with their families.
According to the order, only four individuals may record a service together from one place, and they must be at least 6 feet apart. Additionally, the order states, “… no singing or use of wind instruments, harmonicas or other instruments that could spread COVID-19 through projected droplets shall be permitted unless the recording of the event is done at one’s residence.”
The order applies to churches, temples, concert halls, auditoriums and playhouses. It is effective through May 10.
Most religious leaders across the world have been urging their congregations to be safe and practice common-sense health measures to protect themselves and others. Many religious services now are being held online or in special drive-in venues where people stay in their vehicles with the windows up while listening to the service on their radio.
Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, urged Christians to use proper health precautions on Monday while slamming the Mendocino County order for going too far, according to the report.
“To be clear, authorities can and should require that churches respect and maintain physical distancing between all the very limited participants in a streamed worship service,” Mohler said. “It is an entirely different matter, however, to tell Christians that they cannot sing in praise and honor of God.”
He continued, “Indeed, these orders came out just days before Resurrection Sunday — orders saying that Christians, on the day where they celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, are prohibited from singing.”
Some local officials are cracking down on drive-in church services, too. Last week, police fined members of a Mississippi church $500 each for attending a drive-in service. Supposedly, they violated a social distancing order even though the church, Temple Baptist in Greenville, required attendees to stay in their vehicles with the windows up and listen to the worship service on their radios, according to the Washington Times.
In Kentucky, police showed up at another church service last week and recorded the license plate numbers of those who attended, left notices on their windshields, and warned people to quarantine for 14 days or else face “further enforcement measures,” according to USA Today.
A Florida pastor also was arrested in March for holding church services in alleged violation of current health crisis restrictions.
Meanwhile, abortion facilities can continue aborting unborn babies unhindered in most states. However, pro-life sidewalk counselors are being fined and arrested for offering information and resources to pregnant moms as they go into these abortion facilities.