Many Evangelicals Are Going to Church Despite Social-Distancing Guidelines
It’s no secret that one of the flash points in the administration of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus has been the status of religious services. Most places of worship have managed to adjust via virtual services and other events, with some even innovating with drive-in-style, socially distanced services for people who stay safely in their cars. Others are expressing their ministry by charitable acts such as food distribution or care for the homeless or the elderly.
But there’s a bit of an ideological edge in the attitude of some religious communities toward restrictions on their traditional forms of worship, which may involve crowded sanctuaries, touching and hugging, and other forms of contact generally considered highly dangerous during this pandemic. And among some conservative Evangelical Christians, the belief that traditional worship forms are literally sacred has overlapped with hostility to secular authorities, particularly those not aligned with them on political and cultural issues. There is, in fact, a strong religious flavor to the never-suppressed and now rapidly growing movement of resistance toward coronavirus lockdowns, and agitation for “reopening” businesses and other shuttered or restricted enterprises. In various parts of the country, Evangelicals are demanding the right to worship as they choose as a matter of constitutional “religious liberty,” and some conservative politicians (e.g., Florida governor Ron DeSantis) are agreeing with them to one extent or another.