1

Christians share certain beliefs that can be at odds with secular governments. In particular, Christians believe that salvation of souls is much more important than bodily health, as souls can exist for eternity with God while this-life bodies are ephemeral. If push comes to shove, that the health of the soul is more important than the health of the body (although these are obviously interrelated in certain ways) seems a basic, core Christian belief, and leads to various actions including martyrdom, putting one's bodily health at risk to preach the Gospel, and so on.

Indeed, Jesus says

"Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10:28)

This idea is counter to much of the prevailing ethos in many contemporary, essentially secular societies.

As such, one would expect differences between Christian organizations and secular governments on various policies related to worship or Christian practice, when those conflict with perceived public health prerogatives. The secular governments may not admit that the health of the soul is a vital goal, although indeed, various states in the U.S. did include churches as 'essential', for example,

"A dozen or more states have included churches as essential services and actually permit churches to meet, while the remaining states forbid religious gatherings, even small group in-home gatherings."

Has there been any denominational (or cross-denominational), official, public push-back against governments declaring in-person worship or other in-person church practices 'non-essential'?

When searching, I am only able to find various individual churches or persons declaring that corporeal worship, say, is indeed essential.

Update: I have found The Warrenton Declaration on Medical Mandates, Biblical Ethics, and Authority. It has 24 initial signers, most of whom are Pastors, and as of right now a large list of other people who have signed the declaration.

A major point is

"Unfortunately, due to a pervasive lack of theological and biblical understanding on these issues coupled with a tendency to over-attribute power and jurisdiction to the state, oftentimes churches have defaulted to almost reflexively acquiescing to whatever government health agency statements are made and the policies they put in place. The legitimacy of the sweeping powers attributed to the state is either simply presumed or reinforced with scant, or faulty biblical support. Powers are assumed to exist unless explicitly denied rather than regarded as absent unless firmly established by Scripture."

and in particular,

"XX. WE DENY that civil governments have lawful authority to enact “lockdowns” predicated on protecting “public health” as this is not their jurisdiction."

2
  • Comments are not for debating the merits of lockdowns or vaccines.
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 16 at 0:42
  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 16 at 3:33
3
+100

Yes. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of England & Wales protested in a letter to the British Prime Minister in November 2020 that worship was essential (with my emphasis in the quote):

Much has been made of the adverse impact on mental health of volunteer and paid carers during this pandemic. Common Worship is an important way of sustaining the wellbeing, and ability to serve, of people of faith who volunteer. The benefits of public worship are scientifically well attested.

For this reason alone, given the size and duration of the contribution of faith communities to the pandemic response, and the importance of sustaining their commitment and wellbeing, public worship is essential, should be classed by government as necessary and supported to continue.

It enables and sustains people of faith in contributing to the service and health of our nation.

Full text on CBCEW website

It didn't have much effect immediately, but the next national lockdown in March 2021 did not close churches or forbid public worship.

With the announcement of a new lockdown for England to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said:

The regular practice of our faith in God is a well-established source of both personal resilience and dedicated service to those in need. Such resilience and enduring service are vital in these difficult circumstances.

I am glad that no measures have been introduced that would obstruct or curtail this essential source of energy for the common good. Catholic parishes will continue to serve the needs of their local community.

Text on CBCEW website

2
  • 1
    +1 I find it interesting this might have had a protective effect for future lockdowns. I find it interesting they essentially couch their argument in secular terms ("are scientifically well attested"). Instead of talking about souls and Heaven, they talk about the vague term 'wellbeing'. Nonetheless, it seems it might have worked. Jul 16 at 16:36
  • 1
    It is sad that they could not bring themselves to speak the truth plainly: that the reason for worship's being essential is the salvific work of God that comes to us through it. Still, they've done far better than most Bishop's Conferences in speaking up at all.
    – jaredad7
    Jul 20 at 0:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.