During the coronavirus pandemic, if you test positive for the disease — or otherwise show symptoms for the disease — you are required to quarantine yourself in your home. For most people, especially the elderly, this can be a terrifying experience; being home, very sick, and alone.
One of the most integral parts of the Christian religion is for pastors and members to minister to the sick and dying. James 5:14 states,
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
Not only is this a command for the Church to follow, it has been a tradition practiced in the Christian faith for 2000 years. It is not an optional ministry, it is what Christians do. However, the State of California is forbidding Christians from doing so all in the name of “public health.”
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In the “Places of Worship and Providers of Religious Services and Cultural Ceremonies” guidelines released on May 25, the State of California places a number of restrictions on the First Amendment freedom to practice religion unhindered not only by insisting that members of separate households distance themselves from each other — including children — but literally instructs pastors not to minister to people infected with COVID-19.
The instructions on page 6 read,
Staff, volunteers, etc. should not enter the home or visit someone who as tested positive for, exhibited symptoms of, or has been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19 for an appropriate waiting period as described by CDC guidelines.
It’s sad, but not unexpected, that the state of California would place such restrictions on the free practice of religion. But what’s worse is how many so-called churches will actually follow through and submit to these drastic measures. It’s not impossible to visit someone who is sick and remain safe and every effort should be made to do so. But to neglect ministering to the sick and dying would place the Church in derelict of duty.