The global coronavirus pandemic has infiltrated nearly every aspect of American life. This includes worship and church attendance, with many congregations cancelling services Sunday and instead meeting virtually or online.
The American Pastors Network (APN) has discussed the coronavirus impact, and especially how it has affected American pastors, church leaders and the people in the pews. In fact, APN often discusses health care matters from a biblical and constitutional perspective on its popular daily radio program, “Stand in the Gap Today,” which airs on over 400 radio stations nationwide; many carry the show live from noon to 1 p.m. ET.
“All people are making choices in times like these,” “Do we look to God or government? Do we respond with peace or panic? How do we address the matter of balancing the need to always be prepared—a biblical principle—and then not trusting in that preparation. So many people today are totally unprepared for any blip in their lives, including this one, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We must trust in God always, whether in times of plenty or times of peril. We hope APN can help people understand the balance of preparing for a temporarily altered lifestyle as a prudent ‘heeding of a warning’ without being equated to not ‘walking by faith.’”
As churches also balance the matter of government mandates and impacts on church gatherings, APN is working with several legal experts in an effort to offer resources to pastors and church leaders.
Rohrer welcomed Jeremy Dys, Special Counsel for Litigation and Communications for First Liberty, to “Stand in the Gap Today” Monday. Dys shared First Liberty’s “Guidance for Churches and Religious Institutions Facing Coronavirus Restrictions on Gathering.”
According to the document, “the coronavirus pandemic has motivated some state officials to impose restrictions on
the gathering of large numbers of people in one place at a time, including in a house of worship. Unlike other, voluntary restrictions self-imposed by organizations such as the NCAA or the NBA, these state-mandated restrictions carry the power of law, violating them may lead to legal consequences.”
Church and state have an opportunity to work together, First Liberty continues, to reduce the impact of the virus
on our communities while encouraging calm and preserving liberty. The legal organization, in working with APN, is offering the following guidance:
- Religious institutions should continue to serve their local communities. America’s churches and religious institutions have played a central role in caring for their local community throughout history. Whether that is through acts of mercy, providing shelter, or simply being a source of encouragement and peace in times of crisis, America’s religious institutions should continue to be source of strength through service to their local community, especially as their communities may be particularly burdened during this pandemic.
- Temporary, evenly applied restrictions may be permissible. Government may not substantially burden the free exercise of religion unless it has a compelling reason for doing so, and even then it must use the least burdensome approach that achieves that compelling interest. Temporary action to reduce the spread of a global pandemic is almost certainly a compelling reason, so long as the government is not treating religious institutions unfairly compared with how it treats other comparable gatherings.
- Extraordinary state action to limit the peaceful gathering of American citizens must be temporary. Permanent restrictions on the peaceful assembly of American citizens—and especially those gathered to exercise their religion—violate the U.S. Constitution and are not permissible. As they have throughout history, churches and America’s religious institutions will play a key role in providing care during this global pandemic.
APN has also offered listeners valuable health care resources on additional programs, including the following:
- “A Viral and Health Update” with Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, and Dan Wilton, staff support manager with Samaritan Ministries International and a chaplain with the 182nd Airlift Wing for the Illinois National Guard.
- “Coronavirus Update: Balancing the Known with the Exaggerated” with Kevin Freeman, economic warfare and financial terrorism expert and author.
- “The Coronavirus: A Modern-Day Plague?” with author Michael Snyder.
- “From Virus Advances to Israel Annexes” with Bill Koenig, White House correspondent and founder of World Watch Daily, and Anthony Hopp, vice president of external relations for Samaritan Ministries International.
- “Health Freedom Update” with Twila Brase, president and co-founder of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom.
- COVID-19 Pastoral Response Kit