(RNS) — A conservative law firm launched a “ReOpen Church Sunday” initiative this week, calling on churches to begin gathering in person again despite reports of the deadly novel coronavirus being spread during worship services.
The campaign is organized by Liberty Counsel, which created a website for the initiative encouraging Christian leaders to begin holding in-person worship the weekend of May 3 — just days ahead of the National Day of Prayer on May 7.
“There’s a lot of practical ways that churches can begin thinking through the process of reopening and, at the same time, protecting the health of all of its participants in the community — and then giving other alternative options,” Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, told Religion News Service.
Staver’s campaign suggests churches take a phased approach, allowing some worshippers to gather in person while maintaining social distancing but also providing options for people to participate from their cars or, if they belong to an at-risk population, at home via livestream. The campaign’s website also contains a list of suggested safety measures, such as sanitizing worship spaces and checking temperatures at the door.
On the one hand, I really do feel that our local churches were far too quick to willingly close their doors even before there were any reported cases of the virus anywhere near here (and there still are none in our immediate area).
On the other hand, given the current political climate, if the churches were to reopen now and then a big increase in virus cases were to occur, the church would almost certainly be blamed for the increase even if the source of the increase was totally unrelated to the church gatherings.