Sunday, April 5, 2020

Some Churches Holding Palm Sunday Services in States Across US: Reuters' Documentation, April 5, 2020

Despite huge red flags waved in front of their unbelieving faces, there are still people who want to maintain that religious gatherings are not being held in the US in defiance of stay-at-home orders, since everyone they know is participating in religous gatherings online. These folks remind me very much of an elderly German woman I saw interviewed in a documentary this week who vowed that, no, sir, no one was murdered during the Holocaust, that the gas chambers and crematoria were fake news — and as she spoke, the camera panned to actual footage of the crematoria stuffed with ashes and bones, and actual photos of people who had been shoved into mass graves after they were shot by the Nazis.

Here's what's actually happening as the deniers and excusers want to attack anyone seeking to discuss what is actually going on right now:

Millions of American Christians will observe Palm Sunday at home this weekend, as the vast majority of U.S. churches have moved services online to comply with stay-at-home rules. 
But, like Solid Rock, pockets of churches from Florida to Texas and across to California are keeping their doors open and inviting worshipers to attend services this weekend. 
"We're defying the rules because the commandment of God is to spread the Gospel," Louisiana pastor Tony Spell said in an interview with Reuters. 
Spell, 42, who plans to hold three services at his 1,000-member Life Tabernacle megachurch in a Baton Rouge suburb on Palm Sunday, has defied state orders against assembling in large groups and has already been hit with six misdemeanors. 
"The church is the last force resisting the Antichrist, let us assemble regardless of what anyone says," he said. 
For Spell and others, the public health orders are a threat to religious freedoms and constitutional 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. 
Lone Star has been holding services in the parking lot - what it calls "Church on the Lot" - and will do so on Palm Sunday. 
Gatherings organized by at least two churches - one in France, another in South Korea - have been linked to the spread of the virus. 
In California, Sacramento County officials said on Friday that they have identified one evangelical church that has a cluster of 71 positive cases. They offered few details but said that while the church itself is closed, church members continue to gather in fellow parishioners' homes. 
Others in California are defying the ban. 
Rob McCoy is one of them. He is the mayor of Thousand Oaks, in the Los Angeles area, but also the pastor of Godspeak Calvary Chapel, where he will offer communion on Palm Sunday - though encouraging worshipers to stand six feet apart. 
"It's very important theologically that communion not be taken alone," said McCoy. 
"What we are doing is exercising our inalienable rights. Communion is non-negotiable for us." 
About 400 miles (644 km) north of Thousand Oaks, police in Lodi, California, interrupted a service late last month at the Cross Culture Christian Center, an evangelical church with about 80 regular attendees, to tell members they were violating stay-at-home orders. 
They have since been given a warning posted on the church door, a "Notice of Public Nuisance," demanding the center stop holding services, according to local officials. 
"This is a serious public health threat," said city spokesman Jeff Hood. 
Still, the pastor plans to hold services on Palm Sunday, said the church's attorney, Dean Broyles. 
"Simply put, no, we're not going to obey it," Broyles told Reuters. "The virus does not suspend our constitutional rights, the right to assemble, freedom of religion and freedom of speech."

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