Getting through the COVID-19 health crisis requires faith—even if it’s the size of a mustard seed. It also requires staying home to help flatten the curve. And that is why faith leaders are urging worshippers to stay home and holy for the holidays. On Wednesday, during a press call organized by the Center for American Progress, U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) and faith leaders cautioned worshippers to adhere to the guidance of public health officials and avoid public gatherings during Passover, Easter, and Ramadan.
A number of faith leaders and pastors have created digital worship experiences for members of their congregation to keep people safe. But there are others who have not followed suit. As a result, public officials have threatened to fine religious institutions that hold large faith gatherings.
To further encourage people, the group created the hashtag #StayHomeStayHoly to build community around the cause online.
In a statement released by the Center for American Progress, Clyburn, who chairs the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis as well as the Democratic Faith Working Group, said: “Just as we look to our political leaders, our government officials to make the kinds of decisions that would keep us safe and secure in our homes and in our communities, we as faith leaders should do what we can to contribute to that.” He went on to say, “One of the things that contributes to that significantly is our #StayHomeStayHoly movement. Let me repeat that: stay home and stay holy.”
Leaders from the Catholic and Jewish communities also urged members of their groups to have faith during moments of isolation.
Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice said, “We are rooted in this moment that feels like Good Friday, when Jesus suffered alone on the cross. But like Jesus, we are not truly alone, even if we’re separate. Together in community, we can be our better selves. We can care for those who are struggling and ill. This is our Easter lesson: being at the cross, in the suffering, knowing that it is our solidarity that will see us through. We will know the rebirth of Easter, but it may take a while. It will come if we stay home and stay holy.”
Stress and anxiety are at an all-time high for many Americans as they learn to adapt to a new normal mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially. To that point, Rabbi Sharon Brous, founder and senior rabbi of the Los Angeles-based Jewish congregation IKAR, encourages members of the Jewish faith to not be anxious as they begin Passover.
“To honor and abide the physical act of separation is an act of love toward our neighbors and ourselves,” Brous said. “When we abide this temporary isolation, that’s how we demonstrate that we refuse to see one another as expendable.”
Not being able to gather and celebrate important religious holidays will also be a challenge for members of the Muslim community. Wajahat Ali, a New York Times contributing op-ed writer and senior fellow at Auburn Seminary in New York City, said that honoring Ramadan will be challenging due to the lack of daily get-togethers which is custom.
“God wants us to do the most good and the least amount of harm,” Ali said. “It is incumbent upon the rest of us to model a new type of behavior during these holy weeks and these holy months. We stay holy by staying home. And hopefully we can model that type of responsible behavior and ethical behavior that then maybe can inspire our political leadership to come up with a national strategy that puts lives above profit.”
In the words of the leaders, stay home and stay holy.
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