Some Churches Not Rushing to Reopen If Unsafe for Community

Some believe not allowing places of worship to reopen is a violation of First Amendment rights, others disagree

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For Estus Taylor, attending church every week is more than just a routine.

“I definitely miss the interaction I would say getting together is the highlight of the week," he said.

California Governor Gavin Newsom promised to provide guidance Monday for reopening California churches, synagogues, and mosques.

This comes amid pressure to allow in-person religious services from protesters and President Trump, who are demanding that governors take action immediately.

But while some believe not allowing places of worship to reopen is a violation of First Amendment rights, others like Taylor disagree.

“I don’t want to rush back just to say we can rush back. I know a lot of people are saying I have the right to do what I want, I have the right to not wear a mask and you know I have rights to all of these things," he said. "I’m less concerned about my rights and more concerned about being a good neighbor. I don’t want to open up a church or anything just because I have the right. I want it to be healthy for all.”

Taylor attends Our Father's House of Worship in Spring Valley. His Pastor, Joshua Rios, is spreading messages of faith in new ways during the stay-at-home order. Using online platforms, like Facebook and YouTube, Rios is staying connected to his church family during COVID-19.

He wants churches, mosques, and synagogues to reopen so that those who wish to gather can do so.

However, it must be done with health and safety in mind.

“We can’t wait to see each other, we can’t wait to get together, but doing so with wisdom and precaution and to make sure we are taking the necessary steps to make sure that everyone is safe,” Rios said.

Taylor doesn’t think you don't need a physical building to feel connected to your religion.

“You can’t feed your family without going to a grocery store but you can still experience God without going to church. You can still pray, you can still worship,” he said.

Both Rios and Taylor believe physicians, health experts, and elected officials should be their guide when it comes to reopening their church.

Most churches and places of worship are not yet ready to fully implement the most recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control which serve as recommendations.

“I think it’s essential to have our community worship, but not at the cost of flexing our rights and hurting people. If you feel like your church is closed why don’t you figure out in yourself what am I going to do to open up the church? How am I going to help my neighbors, my community?” Taylor said.

More than 1,200 pastors in California vowed to hold in-person services on May 31, Pentecost Sunday, in defiance of the state moratorium on religious gatherings.

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