Dear church, how can I say this in a way that even a little child can understand? “Sat down!”
Dear preacher, your snake-oil prescriptions and presumptuous faith amid this global pandemic now upon us are going to mess around and get somebody killed. Look, it’s not safe to go to church right now. Period.
Indeed assembling in the House of the Lord — whether mega church or urban storefront; whether Baptist, Catholic, COGIC, or any such denomination — can place the saints, young and old, in the swirling viral waters of COVID-19.
So please stop! Please, y’all. Just stop.
For the sake of dear church mothers — some of them in their golden years and ailing with diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease or other preexisting health conditions, which make them highly vulnerable to the disease.
For the love of God, preacher, please cease and desist from this malpractice of faith. For the sake of the children.
For the sake of faithful gray-haired deacons and a flock that believes you have their best interest and souls at heart rather than being stuck in the mud of pride and congregational tradition, or thirsting for the tithes and offering collection plates, which have become vital to you and your church’s existence.
It’s not about your local church, man. And it’s not about you.
And yet, I have heard and bore witness to the insistence of some preachers that the church continue to gather for worship services, meetings and assorted faith assemblies. This despite the sound advice of the world’s most astute medical minds that recommend “social distancing” as the current best practice for limiting the spread of the highly contagious disease.
Both locally and well beyond Illinois, there is more than anecdotal evidence of the dismissal by some in the church community of the necessity of following doctors’ — and officials ’— orders.
Indeed it has been reported to me that at least one local preacher told a congregation gathered in contagious proximity at a recent service: “The saints can’t get the corona.”
To that I say, “The devil is a lie.” The saints catch colds. The saints get into car accidents. They live and they die. And yes, even the saints can catch COVID-19.
In Louisiana, a pastor went so far as to claim that pastors and preachers are “first responders.” He insisted that his church’s Sunday services, which attract 1,000 churchgoers, continue, defying a state order limiting gatherings to no more than 50. He also issued a proclamation: That if anyone in his congregation contracted coronavirus he would pray and “heal” them…in Jesus name.
OK … As the grandson of a Pentecostal preacher, I believe in the power of the Holy Ghost. As a boy growing up in the Church of God In Christ and even as an adult, I have seen unexplainable signs and wonders, and witnessed the prayer of faith and the sick recover.
But I learned early on that, as my mother-in-law would say: “God gives you some sense.”
In other words, don’t stick your hands in a fire just because you believe God has the power to heal you. “Don’t tempt God,” the old saints used to say.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases are mounting rapidly in the Bayou State and in Illinois, threatening to become focal points of the outbreak in the U.S.
Trust me, I get it. This dilemma places some congregants at odds — this clash between the “man of God” and his prescription for healing, and the carnal wisdom of the “heathen” for prevention.
But as my sanctified, tongues-speaking, Holy Ghost-filled grandmother used to say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Let the church say, “Amen.”