California prohibits singing in worship services
As the state tries to stop an uptick in COVID-19 cases, new restrictions in California prohibit churchgoers from singing. “Activities such as singing and chanting negate the risk reduction achieved through six feet of physical distancing,” according to the guidelines issued July 1.
Southern California pastor Rolland Slade posted on Facebook that his church sang on July 5, noting they observed social distancing and wore face coverings. “To celebrate freedom and liberty on Saturday and then be told NOT to sing to the one who gave them to us on Sunday, respectfully is out of the question,” said Slade, who was recently elected chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. “We sang LOUD!!! And will continue going forward.”
Churches prevail in New York court
A federal judge ruled June 26 that New York officials cannot restrict indoor worship gatherings to 25% capacity while allowing businesses to operate at 50%. Judge Gary Sharpe’s ruling was in case involving three Orthodox Jews and two Catholic priests. Sharpe said orders by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio were not “generally applicable,” burdening the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Mixed results from Supreme Court session
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in cases on abortion and religious liberty in late June, alternately cheering and dismaying Christians and other conservatives. The Court’s decision to strike down a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital disappointed pro-life advocates. Meanwhile, religious liberty watchers were encouraged by a ruling that prohibits the state of Montana from withholding scholarships from families who use the funds to send their children to religious schools.
Support for Trump steady among white evangelicals
If the presidential election were held today, 82% of white evangelical Protestant registered voters would vote for President Donald Trump or lean that way, according to findings from Pew Research Center. Pew noted the group’s approval of Trump has slipped slightly, to 72%. Support for Trump is less among other Christian groups, including Black Protestants. Only 8% said they would vote for Trump or lean toward voting for him, if the election were held today.
Sources: Christian Post, Baptist Press, Illinois Baptist, Christianity Today, Pew Research Center