Covid-19 Reveals Degree of Anti-Church Bias


While checking the news this morning I noticed the following headlines:

  • 38% of Arkansas church infected with virus in week…
  • Priests infected at reopened Texas church…

These article links occupied the top dead center positions on today’s Drudge Report. The link about the Arkansas church was of particular interest to me because I am from Arkansas and because I recalled an earlier incident in which several members of an Arkansas church were infected with the Corona virus. I was about to be shocked that another Arkansas church would have been so devastated by the virus, especially now that we are more familiar with how the virus spreads and what safety measures we can take to avoid its spread.

Guess what? This article isn’t about another case of church-spread Corona virus. It is about the same original case from MARCH 6th! Today is May the 19th — 2 ½ months later!

The prominently placed Drudge headlines would make one think that churches in Arkansas were being literally devastated and wiped out by the Corona virus. They are not. In fact, March 6th is ancient history in Corona virus time. Most Americans knew very little about the virus in early March.

The republishing of articles like these leave the immediate impression that churches are the leading cause of Covid spread. They are not. In fact, a recent study revealed that two-thirds of the cases in New York (the hardest hit state in North America) were people who had sheltered in-place and had not attended worship services at all through the course of the virus spread.

I recently passed by the largest liquor store in Bowling Green and noticed that the parking lot was packed with vehicles. Until overruled by a Federal Judge, our governor (Beshear) had mandated that churches had to be closed but liquor stores could remain open. Common sense and science tell us that Covid-19 cannot know what building it is in, nor can it know the character or spirituality of the people that it might infect. It doesn’t know to attack religious people and leave alcohol drinkers alone. There has never been any scientific reason to believe that Covid-19 spreads more easily in church buildings than it does in liquor stores. Some governors have no doubt discriminated against churches. The law has not been equally applied.

Churches And “Essential Services”

The argument has been made by some governors that churches do not provide an “essential service” so church assemblies should be shut down. After thinking about this a few weeks ago I preached a sermon on the role of churches in shaping character and influencing behavior. The church is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Church assemblies are God’s way of “spurring one another on to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24-25). Each local church is a self-contained edification society (Ephesians 4:16).

As any Christian will admit, the Bible teaching that they receive at church services is very “essential” in their lives. While one can study the Bible in a number of different formats outside of a church gathering, 1 Corinthians 14:25 shows the power of the positive peer pressure exerted through a local church assembly. Paul describes a church-gathering scenario in which a person is convicted by the truth as it is believed and practiced by the group. This verse describes the church’s vital role in cultivating hearts and instilling conviction. Without this work people are not as informed as they otherwise will be. They are not as patient as they should be. They are not as kind, honest and self-controlled as they might otherwise be. Galatians 5:19-21 lists the “works of the flesh” that will prevent one from inheriting the kingdom. Some of the behaviors mentioned in this list are also physically harmful, either to oneself or to others. Just prior to giving this list Paul described the constant friction between the flesh and the Spirit and the need to be guided and controlled by the instructions of the Spirit (Galatians 5:17). For many of us the Bible is the ultimate standard of conduct and authority. It regulates us and prevents us from behaving in spiritually and physically destructive ways. It keeps us from doing “the things that we wish.

I was once in a discussion with an atheist who was trying to convince me that there was no God and that the Bible is not true. I warned him that he should proceed very carefully. If he were to some how convince me that there was no God he would have simultaneously convinced me that I could harm him and take everything that he had. I suspect that most irreligious or nonreligious people fail to appreciate how regulated Christians are by their faith.

Churches provide a very essential service when they “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11). Not only are they God’s arrangement for rendering scriptural worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34; 14:23-26; 16:1-2), they also help Christians think and behave as they should.

—Tim Haile

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