There are some churches that aren’t adhering to the call to avoid large crowds to slow down the novel coronavirus pandemic. Rev. Al Sharpton has put out a call to faith leaders to discontinue church services leading into Easter.
The civil rights leader has convened a call with the religious heads of the nation’s largest historically black religious denominations and other faith leaders to adhere to the social distancing that many states have incorporated recently due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus. He is asking that all clergy refrain from having church services into Palm Sunday and Easter Holy Week. Sharpton is taking this action after the arrest of a Louisiana megachurch pastor who ignored the warning posted by government officials last week.
Pastor Tony Spell of Life Tabernacle Church was charged with six counts of disobeying power of government after holding a funeral last week with more than 100 mourners. He also had the church open for a church service on Tuesday evening. Another church in Florida held Sunday services and had a separate criminal action against the pastor, who held services over the weekend that drew large crowds, willfully violating a local coronavirus stay-at-home order.
In a video conference call Wednesday, Sharpton spoke with several black church leaders about discontinuing “services that are not online.”
Sharpton said in a written statement, “I have been arrested over 30 times for civil rights and civil disobedience—twice for 90 days and another 45 days for standing up for people’s civil and human rights. These separate incidents involving leaders of faith putting people’s lives in danger is not a matter of civil or human rights, nor is it a statement of faith. It is self-aggrandizing, reckless behavior of those Shepherds who would risk their sheep rather than lead their sheep.”
Under the leadership of Sharpton and NAN Board Chair Reverend W. Franklyn Richardson, Chairman of the Conference of National Black Churches (CNBC), a series of calls will continue to be conducted to discourage the growing number of churches that say Palm Sunday and Holy Week should be observed in person.