While many states have deemed religious gatherings as essential, others have not. One example is Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, who has been forcing churches to cease gathering while his COVID-19 restrictions are in place. But one megachurch pastor has had enough—and he's calling people across the nation to take a bold stand for their First Amendment rights.
Brian Gibson pastors His Church, which has several campuses in Kentucky and Texas. He's made national headlines recently as he's encouraged churches to reopen despite governors' orders to the contrary. I invited him on my podcast to share his story.
He tells me that in the early days of the pandemic in the U.S., His Church was very cautious since not much was known about the coronavirus. The church decided to have a drive-in Easter service in which they handed out eggs with candy to the kids.
The entire process was meticulous, he says. They sterilized the plastic eggs, packaged them and let them sit for five days to make sure they were sterile. The volunteers who handed the eggs to the children wore face masks and gloves. And the children and their parents stayed in their vehicles the entire time.
And yet Gibson received a message from Kentucky's health department, ordering the church to stop that activity.
"The message from our governor is that that church is not smart enough or safe enough to give a kid an egg full of candy in the name of Jesus," he says. "We started saying, 'Is this religious targeting?' And the answer is yes. And it stayed that way."
Gibson says his church campuses in Texas haven't received this kind of treatment. Gov. Greg Abbott has deemed churches essential, as has President Trump. But Gov. Beshear does not agree. Because of that, Gibson is encouraging Christians to vote out every leader who stands in the way of churches' constitutional rights when the next election cycle comes.
He also created a website called peaceablygather.com, where he's joined by more than 200 churches saying they will reopen even though their governors are ordering them not to. The movement is gaining more and more traction—to the point that Fox News even interviewed Gibson.
And yet through it all, Gibson reiterates that he isn't trying to be outright rebellious. He and the other churches joining him simply want to make sure their constitutional rights are not taken away.
"I think if they go to the website, they're going to see our heart," he says. "They're going to see what we're about. Secular friends are coming to churches. I've done interviews with guys who say, 'Listen, I'm an atheist.' I had a guy tell me the other day, 'Ethnically, I'm Jewish, but I'm not a religious man. But I'm telling you, I back you 100% because that First Amendment is what protects us. So what I'm asking people to do is go on this website [peaceablygather.com], and they're going to see us asking them to come back to church."
In the midst of this, Gibson says, three of his four church campuses have opened up this past weekend. One remained closed because they were in the vicinity of some "COVID issues," as Gibson describes it. But they will reopen that campus in a few weeks.
In that same spirit, Gibson is not encouraging churches to open up with no concern to people's safety. In his own churches, they are making sure to follow proper social distancing and sanitation guidelines. When they end the service, they release people aisle by aisle (commonly done for weddings and funerals) to avoid crowding.
There is not reason that if churches follow these safety guidelines that they cannot reopen in areas that are not hard hit by COVID-19. If you agree, please listen to my podcast today with Gibson and share this article on your social media.
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