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After being barred by the state’s Democrat governor from meeting in church due to coronavirus social distancing restrictions, a group of Christians gathered instead at local Walmart in June.
Video of the gathering in North Versailles, Pa., is going viral, as Americans ponder the absurdity of COVID-19-related orders mandating the closure of churches while allowing citizens to come into close proximity in a business that has been determined to be “essential.”
One video of the religious gathering was posted to Facebook by Nancy Halford, who reportedly works at the North Versailles Walmart, according to the Post Millennial.
Another site called Faithpot reported that Halford immediately dropped what she was doing after she heard the group singing religious songs. The site adds that customers also joined in, while some recorded the gathering on their cellphones.
“I’ve said since began [sic] of social distance if we can[’t] attend church, go local store and bust out in song because we the people are the church,” one person wrote in response to the video.
“Oh how this must have pleased our Heavenly Father. This right here is what our country needs – God’s people being the church outside the church building,” wrote another.
The Post Millennial reported that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf asked faith leaders April 3 to consider alternative forms of worship other than gathering in churches.
“Religious leaders are encouraged to find alternatives to in-person gatherings and to avoid endangering their congregants. Individuals should not gather in religious buildings or homes for services or celebrations until the stay-at-home order is lifted,” he said at the time.
“This is an excellent time for all of us to remember that the church is not a building, but the people who make up the congregation,” Senior Pastor Mark Kelly Tyler of Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, added. “We must do everything within our power to save the lives of those we’ve been called to shepherd. If that means livestreaming the worship services and holding Bible Study in video chat rooms, so be it.”
Americans around the country are growing increasingly frustrated by contradictory state-ordered coronavirus restrictions that shutter churches and punish pastors while allowing often violent protesters to gather unimpeded.
Last week, the First Amendment hypocrisy was on full display in Portland, where protesters gathered to burn American flags and Bibles.
In June, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled against churches pushing to open in violation of Democratic Gov. Kate Brown’s COVID-19 order.
Initially, Baker County Circuit Judge Matthew Shirtcliff ruled in favor of a group of churches led by Elkhorn Baptist Church. He noted that while Brown “has an enormous responsibility,” churches could practice social distancing and safely worship.
“The public interest is furthered by allowing people to fully exercise their right to worship and conduct their business,” Shirtcliff, a former district attorney appointed to the bench by Brown, also wrote.
But Brown’s office filed an emergency appeal with the Oregon Supreme Court, which sided with her and vacated Shirtcliff’s injunction.
“There have been and will continue to be debates about how best to respond to the threat posed by the coronavirus,” the Oregon high court noted. “To the extent that those debates concern policy choices, they are properly for policymakers. That is, those difficult choices must be made by the people’s representatives in the legislative and executive branches of the government.”
The church-ban hypocrisy was again on display in Atlanta late last month when people were allowed to gather at Ebeneezer Baptist Church to see former President Barack Obama politicize the late Rep. John Lewis’ funeral.
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