Some Religious Leaders Don’t Have Faith in Ivey’s “Safer at Home”
Gov. Ivey's "Safer at Home" order is less restrictive than "Stay at Home" but still too restrictive as far as some leaders in Alabama's faith community are concerned. The recently loosened constraints continue a ban on the gathering of large groups of more than 10 people and that has raised the ire of pastors like Rev. Scott Wilmore of The Word Community Church in Northport.
Rev. Wilmore believes Ivey is coming dangerously close to violating the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom. "In my opinion, its getting really close to the line of discrimination or even a violation of our rights under the constitution," Wilmore told 95.3 The Bear's Steve Shannon Morning Show. "Governor Ivey has overstepped and I believe people see it."
The governor's pastor at Montgomery First Baptist Church, Dr. Jay Wolf, disagrees, "According to the White House and CDC guidelines, at this time it is not advisable for groups to gather." Wolf said some of the primary outbreaks have been traced back to churches and funerals.
“We’ve got to be very wise,” he said. “This is a dangerous enemy, and all we want to do is honor the Lord by protecting His people and doing what is right and responsible.”
Wilmore questions why big box stores are allowed to stay open with large crowds of customers and churches are not. "If the virus is as bad as they say it is and churches can't open with proper social distancing then why are they allowing the big box stores to open?" Rev. Wilmore questioned, "If its that dangerous, make them go into the parking lot the way they are making churches." He claims if social distancing is safe for a store then it should also be for churches.
Wolf says he understands the desire to resume in-person fellowship and worship but he is encouraging leaders of all faiths and denominations to have patience and utilize the technology at hand.
Dr. Wolf credits his church's online streaming of services for increasing virtual attendance and drawing professions of faith. "We have found a phenomenal amount of fruit in the valley of the virus. In the last three Sundays we have had 94 people register recorded decisions for Christ through our social media offerings of worship."
The governor's pastor called it amazing, "Now if we had 94 people in three weeks walk down the isle, we would be like giddy and doing high 5's and jumping pews and swinging from chandeliers."
Many churches report more people viewing streaming online services than the number who normally attend services.