As Pastors Make Unusual Easter Plans, One Vows 'Satan and Virus' Won't Stop 2000-Person Service - 2020-04-11
The weeks-long battle between religious leaders who have defied coronavirus lockdown orders and authorities trying to protect the public from spreading the deadly infection came to a head this weekend as members of churches around the country prepared for an unusual Easter Sunday service.
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. surpassed 500,000 on Saturday, yet some faith leaders said they planned to go against federal guidelines discouraging public gatherings of more than 10 people, while others in harder-hit areas worked to set up Zoom meetings and experimented with sound-mixing technology to combine separately recorded hymns.
Governors in several states worked to balance the desire for adequate public health measures with the politics of asking citizens not to gather to celebrate the holiday. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp have encouraged worshippers to attend online services. Though Holcomb has ordered Indiana churches to stay closed, Kemp has reportedly left the decision up to individual pastors in his state. In Texas and Florida, governors have exempted religious services from the states' stay-at-home orders.