It’s Deja-Vu … all over again.
In November 2020 many states must shut down again or enforce stricter orders to help quench the staggering recent increase in COVID cases. Of course, those ideas are not without their detractors, sadly a group including many “pastors.”
Why the scare quotes? Well, those pastors have simply gone COVID crazy, creating division and strife over the simple idea during a pandemic we should protect people as much as possible, instead proudly and boldly proclaiming they won’t prioritize the health and safety of their members — or anyone else.
Wait a minute, no pastor would promote such thinking? That’s absurd! Well, here’s their lawyer stating:
“If we’re risking our lives to go to church, if we survive great,” said Salem-based attorney Ray D. Hacke, who filed a motion for a temporary restraining order Thursday. “If we die, then we’re going to heaven. If we want to take that risk, then it’s on us.”
Stunning, isn’t it? What about fruit of the spirit? You know, love, joy, peace.
Early in the pandemic it could be understood if pastors were ignorant of these things (math and science), or if they doubted the severity, how fast covid spreads, or its lethality. Now? We know it’s much worse than flu, in lethality and number of cases. No excuse exists for pastors to abandon their responsibility.
PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon Health Authority reported record COVID-19 numbers on Thursday.
Today’s addition of 1,225 new cases is the highest daily count since the start of the pandemic. They include confirmed and presumptive cases.
OHA also added 20 new coronavirus related deaths, also a daily record. The death toll has now risen to 808.
“I have heard frequently from those who have refused to believe this pandemic is serious if we aren’t seeing hospitalizations and deaths. Those hospitalizations and deaths are here, and are only likely to go up. Please take this seriously, and do what you can to slow the spread: wash your hands, wear a mask, and limit the number of people you come in close contact with,” Allen said [OHA Director Patrick Allen].
Hospitalizations and deaths follow the 14 day or so infection window. Those who ignorantly say “it’s only a few cases” simply don’t know what they’re talking about — you can’t wait until cases explode before taking action. It’s math (and science, but mostly math).
In a two-week span that has left numerous coronavirus records shattered, several more fell Thursday as the Oregon Health Authority reported its highest daily case count, its largest number of reported deaths and the average number of daily cases neared 1,000 for the first time since the pandemic began.
One of the primary drivers of the spread of the virus is people who don’t take the illness seriously, said Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen.
Those who understood exponential growth knew the likelihood of this a looooong time ago, while “pastors” who fought (and continue to fight) protections against the pandemic should find other work and be relegated to the kiddie table while mature adults handle the situation; reality-denying pastors hold the credibility of flat-earthers.
It’s one thing to be ignorant of something (we all have strong and weak areas), it’s another to fail to heed the wisdom of people who do know, and even after facts prove your position wrong, continue to act stupidly.
Hierarchy of Responsibility
In any situation you face the following hierarchy of responsibility:
- Moral and ethical
In the case of a pandemic we know is many times worse than “just the flu” some reasonable things to do are:
- Limit capacity. Use reservations like a theater or sporting event to insure both capacity and distance limits are followed, but also eliminate turning any one away and be sure everyone who wants to attend can.
- Use technology — video conferencing or other methods to hold virtual services without danger of spreading the pandemic via in-person meeting.
- Rearrange or limit chairs and pews. For example block every other pew, or rearrange chairs in small groups six feet apart.
- Air filtration or keeping windows open (or outside or drive-in services with people staying in their cars).
- One way flow in hallways. Keep people going in one door, and out another to avoid traffic jams and close contact.
- Temperature checks as people enter.
- Bathroom capacity limitations and frequent sanitization during services.
- Abundant hand sanitizer.
- Adequate staff to insure pandemic protocols remain followed.
Are any of those burdensome? Not really. Inconvenient? Perhaps.
What’s that fruit of the spirit again? Agape love?
Not all those actions are necessarily legally mandated, just steps you’d take if your goal was to guard the flock, and general business actions to protect people (would you frequent a restaurant ignoring basic sanitation? Why then a church?).
Why do pastors rail against their moral responsibility? If you listen you’ll notice these disciples of new doctrine don’t ever present a coherent argument. It’s mostly slogans, division, and us-versus-them mentality.
Finally we arrive at your legal responsibities. Sometimes occupancy limits will be different. Or signage. Or other checks. But they generally follow the spiritual, moral, and ethical obligations pastors and leaders should have towards others already — it’s not religious persecution to wash your hands, wear a mask, or arrange chairs so adequate distance exists between them.
However, out-of-order pastors start at the bottom — legal — and rail like a 1960s hippie to “stick it to the man” and proudly and boldly proclaim they’d rather ignore reasonable protections in a pandemic (and leave their members vulnerable as well), promote illegal activities, and generally behave irrationally, simply because the state mandated actions they should perform anyway as their fiduciary duty as the shepherd protecting the flock.
In Oregon Governor Brown (who’s certainly not on my Christmas card list) has gone out of her way to accommodate churches; her order stating:
Faith institutions may remain open, but are limited to a maximum of 25 people indoors, or 50 outdoors, and must comply with applicable OHA guidance. No food or drinks may be served for on-site consumption, unless integral to a religious service. During the freeze period, individuals and institutions are strongly encouraged to consider remote, drive in, or outdoor options, or canceling or postponing the event, if possible.
Wow! Such tyranny! We can’t allow such restrictions on our services!
Oh wait, protecting members remains a spiritual, moral, and ethical responsibility anyway — whether it’s mandated by the governor or not.
You might pick around the details (I certainly can), but Governor Brown’s (D) order really isn’t much different from what you’d do in a pandemic — if, that is, your idea was to protect your members, not use them to make a political statement.
The Shepherd’s Job
Pastors wasting time on a political non-spiritual, non-doctrinal issue have lost track of their mission — teaching and protecting the flock.
Paul wrote to Titus:
This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. (Titus 3:8 KJV)
Good Works. One flavor of meaning for “good” is honorable. Where’s the honor in shaming members who understand reality of the pandemic? Where’s the honor in failing to protect members and denying a pastors’ role of shepherd? Where’s the honor in not only breaking the law, but encouraging others to do so?
The fruit of the spirit is not division, argument, shaming, and lawlessness — and encouraging members to do the same. That should be a giant red flag these “pastors” are wildly out of order.
And how does this affect the church witness by such laughable absurdity? The world watches in stunned amazement at these pastors’ willful abandonment of their responsibilities.
It took a pandemic for us to see how many Christians are incapable of loving their neighbor during a global pandemic. This is NOT tyranny. If you can’t worship your God without singing in a building during a pandemic in which 250k Americans have died so far, find a new God.
A bit snarky, but that’s how some outside the church view these pastors’ knee-jerk screeching they won’t protect their membership (or anyone else).
Worse, physical conflicts have erupted outside those services (fights and shouting must be listed as a fruit of the spirit in their translation — it sure isn’t in mine) as they had to know such would be the result of their bizarre new doctrine promoting division and lawlessness.
A Newbury Park church held indoor worship service Sunday morning despite a judge’s temporary restraining order that bars the church from doing so in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
As worshippers poured into Godspeak Calvary Chapel for a 9 a.m. service, a crowd swelled outside with those rallying in support of the church clashing with counter-protesters.
Ventura County sheriff’s Capt. Eric Buschow said about 100 to 150 people were gathered outside, and several “minor scuffles” broke out during the protests.
Where We’re At
That’s the fall of 2020; we now face 2 bad choices, continued death toll increase by not doing anything to control the pandemic, or economic disaster via shutdown orders in effort to halt the spread.
Are these new disciples (who deny reality all around them) okay with the massive death which will follow if everyone followed their failure to protect people? Or are they simply so selfish and self-serving they don’t care? Either way, they should seek other employment, and do what they really want to do — politics.
It didn’t (and shouldn’t) have come to this. But it’s too late to worry about, the jury has come in, and the unanimous verdict via ten months of facts remains condemning to so-called pastors still clinging to their life raft of delusion, surrounded by an ocean of reality, facts, and common sense.
They’ve failed their spiritual responsibility.
They’ve failed their moral responsibility.
They’ve failed their ethical responsibility.
They’ve failed their legal responsibility.
They’ve failed their pastoral and leadership responsibility.
… and that’s not a good thing at 2:59AM.