Defiant Christian megachurches across the country have vowed to flout social distancing guidelines and host Palm Sunday mass — with one Texas pastor complaining that “Satan’s trying to keep us apart.”
While most churches will host online-only services for the holiday, a few renegade pastors in Ohio, Texas, Louisiana, Florida and California have made it clear they are hoping to pack their churches with congregants, and global coronavirus pandemic be damned.
“We’re defying the rules because the commandment of God is to spread the Gospel,” said Louisiana pastor Tony Spell.
Spell, 42, plans to hold three services at his 1,000-member Life Tabernacle megachurch in a Baton Rouge suburb on Palm Sunday. He’s already received six misdemeanors for defying state orders against assembling in large groups.
The pastors claim the lockdowns infringe on their religious rights.
“Satan’s trying to keep us apart, he’s trying to keep us from worshipping together. But we’re not going to let him win,” Kelly Burton, pastor at Lone Star Baptist Church in Lone Star, Texas, wrote in a post on Facebook.
The church has been searching for creative ways around the state’s orders against convening in groups larger than 10 people and has been hosting mass in its parking lot — services it calls “Church on the Lot.” It plans to do so again for Palm Sunday.
The Ohio megachurch Solid Rock, which has been hosting 1,000-person masses, plans to open its doors for holiday service, as well.
The church said it would offer a “scaled back” service.
“Fortunately, our facility is large enough that we are able to easily ensure that everyone who is physically in the facility is practicing the physical distancing; we are providing additional cleaning and hand sanitizing stations; and we are holding some services outside to allow for more distance.”
Although Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s mandatory “stay at home” order excluded churches, he scolded pastors on Saturday for continuing with mass, the Journal-News reported.
“Any pastor who brings people together in close proximity to each other, a large group of people, is making a huge mistake,” DeWine said. “It is not a Christian thing to do.”
With Post Wires.