To the Editor:
When Christ walked the earth, he did not surrender to the state, renounce his teachings, stop his preaching or withdraw in surrender even though he knew it meant he would be tortured and executed as a traitor to the state.
Early Christians were despised, shunned, hunted and killed by the state. Committed Christians continued to gather and pray in the catacombs among the remains of the dead, defying the State.
200 million people are thought to have died during the plagues of the Middle Ages. Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death” famously captured efforts by the rich, the powerful and the state to isolate and protect themselves while ordinary citizens died from the black plague, the bubonic plague and the corona like pneumonic plague.
State persecution of minority religions spans the globe. Yet Christians, Jews and Muslims brave persecution (a fuzzy more palatable word meaning social and physical abuse to include death) to continue their calling to worship a being higher than any man or state.
It is too late to unring the bell of our churches’ capitulation to the subjugation by fiat of the State’s Executive’s order closing all services including, indefensibly, Holy Week, Easter, Ramadan, Purim and Passover.
The sop of allowing services for 10 or 50 won at court by a determined jurist supporting an heroic congregation is an insult. The further acquiescence of the just announced State approved control of a re-opening schedule for services is a further affront to our freedom of government control of religion, platitudes and bromides notwithstanding.
It is not too late, nor soon enough, for brave ministers, priests, reverends, rabbis and imams to reverently and unilaterally re-open services, with common precautions, regardless of state guidance or threats. If religious hierarchies decline to issue and support complete and unilateral re-opening then at least let them bear the temporal costs of defending the absolute right of churches in our country to minister to their congregations.
Perhaps bearing the temporary secular penalties can be a partial atonement for the grievous error of doing the state’s bidding.