Dr. Paul Chappell, the senior pastor at California’s Lancaster Baptist Church, told the “Todd Starnes Show” Friday that after 10 weeks of lockdown orders due to the coronavirus it is time for churches to get the same rights as big-box stores.
Chappell said that the health of his neighbors remains his top priority and faith leaders have been “very respectful” of requirements issued from states and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, but he “cannot in good conscience continue to forsake assembling” any longer.
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“This is a part of our faith,” he said. “It’s an absolute in the Bible.”
Chappell said that he is “extremely sensitive” to the medical side of these lockdowns. He said his grandson had lung surgery a while back, so he understands the concerns felt by many about the dangers of the virus.
He said the health of his congregation will be a top priority and even published a 34-page report on social distancing and its best practices. But he said many states have churches listed in their later stages of reopening and he believes that these guidelines have hints of discrimination.
“Our feeling is that we are every bit as competent as Walmart to assemble people safely,” he said.
He said one of the company’s stores in his area allows up to 400 people inside at a time. He said his church has a similar amount of square footage and he believes that his church can safely do the same thing.
Todd Starnes pointed out that many churches in southern states can reopen this weekend. But Chappell, who is in California, joked, “Well, L.A. doesn’t stand for Lower Alabama.”
“Well, it does in these parts,” Starnes, who is in Memphis, joked.
President Trump told governors that it was time to allow places of worship in the country to reopen and if they do not comply, he will “override” them. He said, “Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It’s not right.”
Chappell said despite these decisions being made in governors’ offices, on the local level, there’s some fatigue over these guidelines and feelings that the restrictions are becoming politicized.
“I don’t want to endanger anyone,” he said. “But if they’re saying all these other businesses can do this, then I believe church should, too.”