Nearly 5oo churches in the state of California plan to reopen on May 31, despite Governor Newsom’s extended State of Emergency order. According to the churches’ attorney, “the churches are not asking for permission” to reopen. They’re proceeding at their own risk.
Bob Tyler, a religious freedom attorney, said the group of pastors has signed a petition and plans to advise the governor of their plans to reopen while practicing social distancing.
“We’ll give the governor an opportunity to amend his order. If he doesn’t, these pastors have told me that they’re committed to opening regardless of what the governor decides. The governor is sitting here as a dictator, trumping the Constitution,” Tyler said. “He is… hanging on to this state of emergency for as long as he can hold it.”
According to the petition, the pastors “declare that on May 31, 2020, or sooner, we will resume corporate worship as instructed in Hebrews 10:24-25.”
May 31 is “The Day of Pentecost… also known as the birthday of the Christian church.” This year marks “the 1,990th anniversary of the original Day of Pentecost that occurred in the year A.D. 30.”
Currently, Gov. Newsom has churches reopening during phase three, which could very well be months from now. Tyler said the pastors are “committed to opening regardless of what the governor decides.”
Pastor Matt Brown of Sandals Church in Riverside posted a video on his church’s website explaining one reason why churches must reopen as soon as possible.
He says there has been a “spike in depression, suicide, and drug addiction” as a result of the isolation and quarantine. He added that there are “all kinds of emotional issues that are going on.”
President of William Jessup University, Dr. John Jackson, said that people need physical touch. They need in-person human interaction. “The presence of God matters, but touch matters [too]. I love technology but it is not a replacement for physical presence.”
Dr. Jackson also said he disagrees with the government prioritizing businesses over churches.
“I find it very inappropriate that I can go to the grocery store and buy a loaf of bread and be with all other kinds of people. I can go to the hardware store and get my supplies for my home maintenance but I cannot go to a church,” he said.
Dr. Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said governments need to consider churches just as essential as other businesses.
“I don’t think that churches should be treated differently because they’re churches,” he said. “The issue has to be safety and so you have some areas where churches are treated in a different category that sees churches as less essential than other means of gathering. I think that’s a real mistake.”