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This week, a church was burned to the ground in Mississippi and nobody in the establishment media seemed to care. That’s because it wasn't motivated by racial animus, but allegedly by anti-religious, pro-lockdown sentiment.
As the parishioners of First Pentecostal Church in Holly Springs picked up the pieces of their charred home, other congregations across the country began to rise up to fight the unfair government directives that these houses of worship remain closed.
In Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and so many other states, the faithful made their preferences to have services known. Pastors held services where they preached through a megaphone to congregants parked in cars outside the church, a Catholic priest used a squirt gun to give a blessing with holy water at Easter, churches tried to offer services to groups small enough to fit under governors’ strict guidelines as to how many could gather at once.
Yet each of these efforts was met with protest by capitulating citizens and their governors who have internalized a kind of authoritarianism that demands everyone behave according to these very specific dictates or else.
Governors who locked down their states and imposed restrictions cared little for the right to religious freedom, seeming to feel a callous disregard for their faithful constituents. Religious services were deemed non-essential, along with movies and theater performances, as though worship, too, was just another form of entertainment that does not enable social distancing. At the same time, however, governors were more than happy to declare booze, weed, and gambling to be "essential services."
Faith leaders have been mocked across the country for trying their best to serve their congregations. It was hard to miss the glee that erupted from leftist media when the pastor of one church who refused to lock its doors died after contracting the coronavirus.
While On Friday, President Trump took two minutes at the beginning of Kayleigh McEnany's White House press briefing to make the following proclamation:
"At my direction the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is issuing guidance for communities of faith… Today I’m identifying houses of worship, churches, synagogues, and mosques, as essential places that provide essential services.
"Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It’s not right. So I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential. I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now. If there’s any question they’re going to have to call me but they’re not going to be successful in that call."
The left used to jump on church burnings as horrible racist acts, but now they are openly vilifying religious communities, from New York City Mayor De Blasio threatening Jews, to progressive fearmongers declaring that community worship is entirely non-essential. Many of the phased plans bring back church services not until the last phases of reopening.
Faith and prayer aren't about changing reality, but about shoring up our ability to be resilient, to face chaos, and to share kindness, community and compassion. In times like these, with petty authoritarians seizing as much power as they can, we need faith and prayer more than ever.