You could say that America wouldn’t be America without the free exercise of religion, and you would be right.
According to the Bible, the main calling of the Christian Church is to make manifest and bear witness to the glory of the Kingdom of God. Week in and week out, religious believers gather for worship and fellowship, while carrying out the daily activities of showing love to others by meeting their needs—especially in times of distress.
Thankfully, the First Amendment protects this essential freedom to peacefully practice the religion we choose.
But when COVID-19 hit the United States and lockdowns began, some government officials seemed to ignore this.
On March 13, President Trump declared the coronavirus outbreak a national emergency, and each of the 50 states went about mitigating the spread of the virus through various quarantine measures.
Restaurants, shops, schools, and churches did their part to comply with the health guidelines. Churches found new ways to gather for worship, whether it was through streaming online services and prayer meetings, or observing ordinances and sacraments while socially distanced.
But some government officials imposed far stricter restrictions on places of worship than they did on restaurants, malls, gyms, bars, and even casinos, using one standard for secular institutions and another for religious ones.
Throughout our country’s history, people have turned to the Church for refuge in times of distress.
After Pearl Harbor and during various financial crises, U.S. citizens needed care and fellowship, something churches offer in a unique way. Just think about the Sunday following 9/11. Churches across the country were filled with people, many of whom were visiting for the first time.
Our nation now finds itself facing challenges unique to a pandemic. Our neighbors are dealing with loneliness and anxiety over health, personal finances, and job security—all at the same time. As you have probably seen within your own congregations, the challenges emotionally and spiritually during this time are great. Calls to Disaster Distress Helpline, a network of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, saw an 890 percent spike in call volume in April.
The Church is essential to providing care and comfort for many. When government officials unfairly restrict churches, they not only violate the First Amendment; they harm those who are already hurting emotionally and spiritually.
ADF Church Alliance is standing up for religious liberty for Christian churches by advocating that government officials do not treat churches unfairly or limit their ministry during this difficult time.
Your church can get the legal help it needs and support fellow churches through membership with ADF Church Alliance.