California county bans singing in online worship services
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MENDOCINO COUNTY, California, April 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – On Good Friday, a county in the Golden State issued an order to churches banning singing ostensibly to further stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Mendocino County, which hugs California’s Pacific Coast about 100 miles north of San Francisco, published a revision of its former “Shelter in Place Orders” which some observers are saying goes too far.
The directive, which is in force until May 10, limits events, including live-streamed events, to four individuals. It goes on to state:
No singing or use of wind instruments, harmonicas, or other instruments that could spread COVID-19 through projected droplets shall be permitted unless the recording of the event is done at one’s residence, and involving only the members of one’s household or living unit, because of the increased risk of transmission of COVID-19.
“The policy in Mendocino County is particularly chilling,” wrote R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in an essay at The Federalist.
“Authorities can and should require that churches respect and maintain physical distancing between all the very limited participants in a streamed worship service. The worship leader, the other musicians, and the pastor should comply with the local, state, and federal guidelines that are in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” wrote Mohler on his website.
“It is an entirely different matter, however, to tell Christians that they cannot sing in praise and honor of God,” he continued. “Indeed, these orders came out just days before Resurrection Sunday—orders saying that Christians, on the day where they celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, are prohibited from singing.”
“During this crisis, governments must determine what services are essential to society and those that can be suspended in order to slow the spread of the virus. However, we have a major problem when governments indicate that liquor stores and pet stores are essential but religious services are not,” said Mohler. “When governments assert that abortions are essential but singing in a streamed worship service is just too unsafe and nonessential, then we have slipped into a complete upending of the American constitutional order.”
“Government should never be in the position to derail any religious ministry and deem it nonessential. That is, on its face, completely unconstitutional,” he added.
Tyler O'Neil, conservative commentator and Senior Editor of PJ Media, said the Mendocino County music ban “sounds like something out of a dystopian nightmare.”
“Singing or playing wind instruments — even a harmonica — during a livestream video event can get citizens fined or thrown in prison,” noted O’Neil.
“No singing. None. No wind instruments. None. If Mendocino County churches wanted a triumphal trumpet solo as part of Easter Sunday worship to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, that would be expressly banned, unless the trumpeter was in his own house away from the sanctuary,” wrote O’Neil. “If they wanted a four-person choir to sing ‘Christ the Lord is risen today,’ members of that choir would have to join a livestream service virtually from their homes. This is possible, of course, but it is extremely difficult to pull off.”
‘The coronavirus has brought many petty tyrants out of the shadows’
“At this juncture, we must observe a critical pattern emerging in American politics. Many of the leading public figures trampling upon or compromising religious liberty are elected Democrats,” said Mohler.
“There is no coincidence in the hostility of Democrats towards religious liberty—it reflects the secular trajectory of the Democratic Party,” he continued. “Many in the press and in the political power structures now refer to religious liberty with scare quotes around it, as if it is nothing more than a term of intellectual invention.”
“The coronavirus has brought many petty tyrants out of the shadows, and it appears Mendocino County is home to some of the most abominable tyrants in America,” concluded O’Neil.