"So, I want to say to all those who are preparing the potential of religious services this weekend – if you go to your synagogue, if you go to your church and attempt to hold services after having been told so often not to, our enforcement agents will have no choice but to shut down those services. I don’t say that with any joy. It’s the last thing I would like to do because I understand how important people’s faiths are to them, and we need our faiths in this time of crisis, but we do not need gatherings that will endanger people.
No – no faith tradition endorses anything that endangers the members of that faith. So, the NYPD, Fire Department, Buildings Department, and everyone has been instructed that if they see worship services going on, they will go to the officials of that congregation, they’ll inform them they need to stop the services and disperse.
Also here. Repeat after me: We are not the generation that would hit the beaches to liberate anyone. A secularized era with nothing to live for but the next five minutes of digital or physical pleasures will stand for little and accomplish less. Right now, our generation's one stellar accomplishment has been to watch the civilization we inherited disintegrated under our watch. We've excused this by allowing those with agendas to grind to convince us that had it not been for the Christian West, the world would have no sin or evil or suffering. Therefore it's a good thing we don't need to do anything to stop the meltdown. And in classic modern thinking, if we're wrong then it will be future generations who pay the price, and that's just the type of sacrifice we're willing to make.If that does not happen, they will take additional action up to the point of fines and potentially closing the building permanently. Again, that will begin this weekend. Again, I’m sorry I have to tell you this, but anyone who’s hearing this take it seriously. You’ve been warned, you need to stop services, help people practice their faith in different ways, but not in groups, not in gatherings that could endanger people." [all emphasis mine]
So it comes as no surprise that in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, our reaction has been to allow the machine to slap us in leg irons and send us to the cotton fields, gulags, or anything to ensure we have as much time as humanly possible in this life. After all, once the hereafter becomes irrelevant, as it does in any secular agnostic nation, then the here and now becomes all important. And that's for those who call themselves Christians as much as the atheists next to us at the office. Hence Rod Dreher, ironically the author of The Benedict Option, willing to see pastors condemned for holding worship services, or letting low incomes workers suffer. But he simply joins a gathering army of people - religious or otherwise, the difference barely matters anymore - who will tolerate any loss of freedom or priority imaginable if it will just keep us around as long as possible. After all, in a secular world with secular Christians, we must ask what it profits a man to worry about his soul if he's going to lose his life in this world.
Nope. The Covid-19 virus has exposed us for what we've become. Once the dust settles, if there is a spark of dignity left in us, we'll hang our heads in shame. I doubt we learn the lessons we should - like if we're serious about climate change, we now know how to help the environment, or that maybe a world where both parents work to get as much money as possible while someone else raises the kids isn't the best thing. Though I fear we've become so secularized that when this passes, it will simply be replaced with another global apocalypse that will get us to sell one more shard of our birthrights for whatever material bowl of stew we are promised.
Disclaimer: None of this is to say I favor doing nothing. Of course not. We do everything we can to help the vulnerable and the least of these, as in all cases. We simply use our creativity and talents to make sure we don't surrender that which is better in the process.
UPDATE 1: As if on cue, after comparing Cuomo to Henry V giving his St. Crispin's day rallying speech, Rod Dreher posts another broadside at Christians who dare think there is anything more important than giving up anything and everything for our physical well being. This is Dreher. This is the man whose book, The Benedict Option, is all about how can gather in communities to keep focused on spiritual things when the waves of inevitable persecution crash on the modern Faith. Let that sink in, and then consider there is more than just Church Leaders that this applies to.
UPDATE 2: Looks like one of several stories where authorities are beginning to break up religious services. This has to do with a funeral at an Assyrian church. I know nothing of that particular tradition. It doesn't really matter. The story reports police caught those in attendance drinking from the same cup. That suggests strongly a type of Eucharistic celebration. Think on that real, real hard. This is what the bulk of Christian leadership and Christians in general are endorsing, and even defending. Religion as a non-essential, Sacraments are irrelevant, only that which preserves our physical health matters. The secularism of our material age has had its way in far more of our modern church than we probably guessed. And that's likely been true for many, many years. The heathenism of secular agnosticism has been evangelizing the Faithful for generations, and now we're seeing the labors of that effort bear bitter fruit.
UPDATE 3: The Florida pastor who defied Florida's gathering restrictions has been arrested, much to the cheers of - everyone. Now, it doesn't look like he lifted a finger to make accommodations or in any way tried to exercise any caution, abundant or otherwise. And that is a jerk way to do it. But note the tenor of the article, and those who arrested him. This is church. It is nothing essential. Walmart, grocery stores, even liquor stores are essential. Of course some are insisting abortion clinics are, too. But church? Not on your physical life baby. Religion is now officially, by government and most church leaders, a non-essential. Some have corrected me and said it's only church that is non-essential. Religion, as long as you keep it to yourself on a personal level, if just fine. Like going to the museum or leisure shopping. Insofar, of course, it doesn't interfere with what really matters, and that's saving our butts and keeping us alive. 2020 - the year Christianity in any meaningful definition of the term, died.