Unfortunately, the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis sweeping the globe is disrupting every aspect of our lives. No organization is immune to the effects of this virus, even the churches that we turn to for spiritual strength and encouragement.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has advised against attending “large events and mass gatherings,” the President is even warning Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10, and some state and local governments are mandating that these guidelines be followed. Many churches are having to close their doors, cancelling their normal Sunday services.
Undaunted, many pastors and churches are finding new, creative ways to utilize technology and reach out to their congregations, so that they can still worship together, even while practicing “social distancing.”
Many churches are showing how technology can serve and unite believers, live streaming sermons from their pastor on YouTube, Facebook Live, and other online video services, and even posting verses and lessons on social media. Pastors can minister to their church family right in their homes, while still working to flatten the curve. And with online giving options, members can still tithe and support their home church and outreach programs, including missions.
Naturally, with some state and local authorities banning large groups from meeting, including churches, there has been some concern about church closures and the Constitution. The ACLJ exists to protect our constitutional freedoms.
We recently told you that our legal team has been vigilantly monitoring the situation and scrutinizing every new development, and we can assure you that thus far we’ve found no examples of unconstitutional actions under the circumstances.
As we explained:
The watchword here is neutrality: Is the government being neutral toward religion, or is the government instead imposing special burdens on religion and its adherents? So long as the government maintains a neutral approach, addresses an objectively serious threat, and does not use that threat as a pretext for targeting disfavored religious entities and adherents, then churches, synagogues, mosques, and other religious bodies cannot claim unconstitutional discrimination.
We’ve litigated many of these religious liberty and free speech cases at the Supreme Court over the years and can tell you that these narrowly tailored, time, place, and manor restrictions, when done in the least restrictive means and in the face of a compelling state interest such as the safety of the public as we see here, are in fact constitutional.
These federal advisories and local mandates are meant to protect the entire community until this crisis is contained. Our legal analysis concluded:
In this situation, the Coronavirus reportedly poses a severe threat to public health and safety, the remedial measures are temporary, and they are being enforced at the state and local level (remember the federal guidelines are merely recommendations at this point). Churches are actively involved in the process and finding unique ways to provide church services online and through other means. Churches are actively working with state and local officials to minister to their communities and are committed across the board to not only the spiritual health but also the physical health of their members. This coming together of community is a key part of the fight to stop the spread of this pandemic, and we are encouraged to see how churches are working with their communities and engaging this important issue.
We’ve now created another way for our own community of ACLJ members to stay connected even while remaining in our own homes.
The Sekulow Community is a new Facebook group we’ve created to share the work of other like-minded organizations, churches, and people who also spread positivity throughout our country.
In this trying time, we consider it more important than ever to shine a light on the efforts of other groups and individuals trying to make a difference, along with the crucial work of the ACLJ. We also want to share stories of positivity and uplifting posts with you, the friends and family of The Sekulow Community. As we did last Sunday, we will share a church service on this platform for those of you who may not have a service to view online.
You can like and follow the The Sekulow Community Facebook page here.
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