Notes from Quarantine: Losing Our Religion

Notes from Quarantine: Losing Our Religion

Notes from Quarantine: Losing Our Religion

Since COVID-19 has been spreading rapidly through the Kansas City area, the metro will be under quarantine beginning on Tuesday. This will affect yours truly, as well. The edict extends over the Kansas-Missouri state line, requiring residents to stay inside except for “essential needs.”

However, “essential needs” doesn’t include religious services, leading many to insist that this infringes upon their right to practice religion. I have seen this all over my Facebook feed, and I have thoughts.

To start with, not all local houses of worship were still holding services at the time of the edict. On March 16, the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph suspended all public Masses. My own Lutheran church — a church which never halts services, even for snowstorms — sent out an email last week announcing suspension of services.

Now I’m neither an epidemiologist nor a constitutional attorney. Nor do I play either on social media. Yet to me, while I worry that a 30-day quarantine will wreak havoc on our local economy (my biggest fear), suspension of large religious services is not unconstitutional.

In many regions, religious people may not gather in a large group for worship at this time. However, that hasn’t stopped some churches from becoming creative. Like this church in Jackson, Mississippi, which held a drive-in service, the preacher standing on the roof of the church.

Nor is this the only congregation. Do an internet search for “drive in church services coronavirus” and you’ll find a plethora of churches nationwide which now hold drive-in services.

As for my church, with its more staid, liturgical practice, an entire service was held in the sanctuary and posted online. The only persons present were the pastor, the choir director — who sang the liturgy and hymns — and the organist. It was a bit surreal, but for us it was still hearing the Word of God.

Now ask yourself: if the government were indeed clamping down on our freedom to practice religion, would these be happening? Try conducting a drive-in church or posting an online Christian service in Saudi Arabia, or China, or North Korea, and see how far you would get. Those are societies which either suppress any outside religion, or all religions. That’s true oppression of faith.

Yet some houses of worship continue to defy quarantine, no matter whether it’s government-imposed or medically advised. In Illinois, for example, a church refused to shut down its religious school, despite the governor’s statewide order. The Northwest Baptist Academy in Elgin defiantly wrote:

“. . .freedom to assemble and exercise religion is one of the most foundational and defended rights in our nation’s history. This God-given right is protected by our Constitution and has been reaffirmed countless times by our courts amidst many attempts of government overreach.”

However, as of 8:30 Monday morning, the local sheriff announced that the school would begin e-learning. I don’t like the fact that law enforcement became involved, but this school is still able to disseminate its faith to its students.

But Christians are not the only faithful to defy court orders. New York City has seen an outbreak of coronavirus infections among the Hasidic Jewish community. That group has held several large weddings, despite prohibitions.


Hasidic Jews before Sabbath, NYC. Credit: Russell Petcoff/flickr/CC BY 2.0.

Yet for me, as a Christian, this issue goes beyond the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. It goes to the edict that Jesus gave me and all believers: Love your neighbor as yourself. 

If you’re a practicing Christian or Jew, your house of worship is probably a lot like mine: composed of people of all types. This means, of course, that there are elderly people, or people with cancer or diabetes. Perhaps some have just gone through a round of chemotherapy and have compromised immune systems. Our congregation has an older couple who bring their adult daughter with Down Syndrome. She is low-functioning, and, like other DS persons, is at greater risk for health problems, too.

I would not want to risk contracting coronavirus from a church service, nor would I want to pass it on to others sitting near me, if — God forbid — I had it. Or kneeling shoulder-to-shoulder at the communion rail, either. My call as a Christian is not to defy a temporary order, or protest that my rights are being infringed. My call is to obey the edict — as much as I dislike it — and to remain in my home as much as possible. That way I can best serve my neighbor, and by extension, Christ Himself.

Religious faith will continue, whether believers gather or not. We need not lose our religion in a time of quarantine.  As Dr. Esau McCaulley, a professor of New Testament at Wheaton College wrote: The church’s absence, its literal emptying, can function as a symbol of its trust in God’s ability to meet us regardless of the location. 

Have faith. The time of emptying will end soon.


Featured image: Blaise Alleyn/flickr/cropped/CC BY-SA 2.0.

Written by

Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!

  • GWB says:

    Our church held a “livestream” service Sunday. It was pre-recorded (so not live), just the pastor, the DCE, and the sound booth guy. It went alright. But we’re actually building small groups around this, and trying to re-imagine “community” in the midst of it. We’re even going to try communion in our small groups.

    I don’t think this is really shutting down the religions.
    But I do think it’s a flexing of the muscles for all kinds of liberty crushing later on. We need to be on our guard.

  • Politically Ambidextrous says:

    Kim, what you write makes a lot of sense, and I completely agree. It’s wonderful how religious communities of all types & denominations are creatively finding ways to reach out to the faithful in times when it’s unwise to pray in close physical proximity.

    Unfortunately, some practitioners of [pick one] religion ‘fear God’ more than they fear the virus. It becomes a test of faith as to what God decides regarding who gets sick and who dies. We cannot understand Divine wisdom & intentions.

    In some circles, proving your faith by becoming a martyr is the fastest way to Heaven. Why not help others have the same glorious opportunity to test their faith?

    No, thank you! That comes under the “when your religion informs you what I need to do” category.

  • galion1 says:

    “church” comes from the Greek word “ecclesia.” It was not originally a religious word, but referred to any gathering. But at its minimum, its definition requires gathering. An “e-church” is not a gathering but a dispersal. While the church I serve did a live-stream message & music Sunday, I do not confuse this with “church.” Having such technology is a tool of, but not a replacement for church. Another issue is at stake: if we suspend worship services because the state orders us to do so, or because our culture pressures us to do so, or because epidemiologists advise us to do so, will we not need their permission to restart services? I don’t want anyone’s permission to worship, but we are placing ourselves in the position of receiving permission, and allowing those who give it to think they have done us a service. Those who give & withhold permission do so out of a legitimate concern, but an ignorance of the supernatural nature of faith & worship. Finally, religious leaders who laud the suspension of worship are saying to us that by not worshiping our God, we are serving our fellow-man. Wow.

    • Kim Hirsch says:

      “What is it to serve God and to do His will? Nothing else than to show mercy to our neighbor. For it is our own neighbor who needs our service; God in heaven needs it not.“ —- Martin Luther.

      “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” —- Matthew 25:40.

      • GWB says:

        Micah 6:8, Hosea 6:6

        (And “church” came from the same German source that gives us “kirche”, which was ultimately derived from Greek “kuriakon”, which means “Lord’s house”. Greek “ekklesiastikos”, OTOH, does mean a gathering, a calling together, and “ekklesiastes” means preacher. So, the church governance is “ecclesiastical” – called.)

      • Howard Hirsch says:

        Kim, you undoubtedly know that Hirsches come in a variety of flavors: Lutheran, Catholic, and Jewish. Having met some belonging to the first two, and being born into the last, I can say how said it is that so many houses of worship are closed, especially some synagogues that are on thin ice to begin with as their memberships dwindle.

        Passover is our most observed religious event, but overwhelmingly by families at home and not in the synagogue. So let us take the occasion to invite someone who otherwise has nowhere else to go to join in our celebration of freedom. Next year in Jerusalem!

  • Patermap says:

    Obviously the ancient Greeks had NO concept of online anything.  

    The ecclesia continues to exist as a COMMUNITY gathered around and in Christ even as the members are dismissed to go out into the world of their daily vocations.  The gathering is defined by Christ and His Word, not by ancient Greek democratic principles or practices.  Christ transforms everything.  He can do that, being Almighty God Incarnate. 

    • GWB says:

      While I agree that you can still have a “gathering together” virtually (I am very involved in a virtual world), there is a component of actual togetherness missing. Its absence doesn’t have to be destructive of relationships, but it’s nothing to sneeze at.

      It is better than being wholly apart. But it’s not quite as good as being together.

      (If nothing else, our pastor can’t hear everyone saying “Amen!” to a good point in his homily. 😉 )

  • Charles N. Steele says:

    I would be interested in hearing where in the Constitution the Federal government is granted the power to cancel in-person church services. If it isn’t given, they don’t have it, not legitimately.

    I don’t know about your state constitution, but so far as I can tell, ours (MI) does not grants the governor the powers she’s wielding. This is extremely dangerous.

    • GWB says:

      I would say the ability to quarantine is under the “general welfare” clause. It’s a very valid governmental power. But, no, quarantining citizens within the country is not really an exercise of the federal gov’t’s power. They could conceivably cut off a state from other states. They could shut down the national borders. But, quarantine Dallas? No. Shut down church services specifically*? No.

      This is one of those spots where our inner libertarian and inner conservative** should struggle. We should know that these powers are necessary, but jealously watch their use to ensure no one is going to turn the ratchet even one notch.

      (* Requiring everyone to turn off radio transmitters at night so the enemy can’t use them to home in would be a general, useful, generic shutdown. Requiring only certain transmitters to be shut down would require a lot more scrutiny. So, if banning crowds over 10 people is prudent [I’m not saying it is], then a natural result of that is mostly shutting down church services. Shutting down church services specifically – without that broader restriction – would be suspect, at best.)
      (** Terms used for convenience and common usage.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Become a Victory Girl!

Are you interested in writing for Victory Girls? If you’d like to blog about politics and current events from a conservative POV, send us a writing sample here.
Ava Gardner