Churches are an essential service

John Swanson | Photo Courtesy
Should churches remain open during the pandemic?

The quiet services that churches provide

Religion is an important part of the lives of many Americans, myself included, and one of the most controversial decisions and a hot discussion topic is if churches should remain open during the pandemic and when they should be closed. 

I am a Christian and because of that I don’t think it’s right for me to speak on behalf of all people when I take my stance on whether or not other buildings of religious affiliation should remain open, but I can say that I believe churches should remain open. 

Christian churches perform other duties besides being a place of worship. They do so much to help people in need, they donate to food, do clothing drives, provide counseling, pay bills for the needy, send supplies overseas like soap and toothbrushes through Operation Christmas Child too. 

The counseling provided to members of the congregation is an especially important aspect with mental health suffering so much through quarantine and the grief of losing loved ones during the pandemic. Anyone is able to sit down with a pastor and speak with them.

In bigger churches, there are also Christian therapists who can refer people to places to access more specialized help. Since services like this are provided by the church some of this burden will then be placed on already struggling hospitals and keep people away from those already infected and seeking treatment. 

With the government shutting them down that means that they are unable to have as much funding meaning that more people are suffering because of the regulations that the government is putting in place. For example, only allowing 10 people in an auditorium that can seat 1000. Regulations like these that limit the capacity of people in a building by number instead of percentage is a harmful practice. 

Only 10 to 25 percent of regular church attendees tithe, or give regularly to the church, and 31 percent of generous giving happens in the month of December. Having churches closed on the days of highest attendance like Christmas and Easter reduces the money they receive therefore reducing the amount of good they are able to do to impact the community like paying bills of struggling members of the congregation or counseling. 

 Additionally, elderly churchgoers who are not so tech-savvy don’t have the option to go online because they feel they aren’t able to. That means that churches bring in even less income.

Closing churches means a cut in funding, a cut in funding means that fewer people are able to get the counseling they need and that they are financially unable to bless their members by helping bills get paid. 

Seeing as how congress and President Trump have been brokering another stimulus check since at least October, I would recommend Americans not rely on the government to help with the bills. 

Some smaller churches don’t have the funding or the ability to hold online services due to poor internet or lack of a website. This means the smaller religious organizations’ impact is lessened on the community due to lack of resources.

On top of it all, some people aren’t donating because they don’t have the money to begin with. The unemployment rate is soaring compared to what it was at the beginning of the year which means that the services that churches provide like clothing and food are even more important than they were.

I have even been a part of church-run programs. Throughout middle school, my youth group went to bag apples, pears and potatoes to give to families who needed them every Thanksgiving. 

However, people still worry that keeping churches open will cause super spreader events. And they will if people choose not to wear their mask, social distance and not have outside services when possible. When these practices are in place they are at no more at risk than being anywhere else. If churches do not have these regulations in place to keep others safe then they should not open their doors. 

In practice, church sanctuaries are also notoriously large open rooms so social distancing is possible. Other regulations like taking people’s temperature at the door, having every other row open for seating and disinfecting between church services would all be effective ways to keep churches open and keep others safe. My church has always been rigorous in having many of these very regulations in place because churches want to be open. 

Yet, some states like California have completely outlawed indoor services at all. We should always be following CDC guidelines and distancing ourselves from others, wearing a mask. But if people are able to safely congregate then there isn’t a reason why people should be denied the right to work on their spiritual health when they are able to protect others’ physical health too. Especially at a time when the services churches provide are needed the most. 

Leave a Reply