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We live in an area where masks are required by law in indoor public areas. Our pastor has chosen to go without a mask anyway. Regardless of how you feel about COVID, masks, etc, I feel that this is a bad example to have in my children's lives. I don't want to teach my kids that you get to ignore a law if you find it inconvenient. I know I can tell my kids that I disagree (they're all school aged, so not as black-and-white thinkers as a 3-year-old would be), but I feel that it puts both me and the pastor in a bad spot to be actively telling my kids things that I think he does wrong. There isn't a way to get the pastor to agree to wear the mask, either. 

So, what do I do? This seems like a really silly reason to find a new church, but I can't see any way around it. By bringing my children to a church, I feel I am implicitly putting my stamp of approval on the pastor as someone they can look up to and trust. I don't feel comfortable doing that in this situation.

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I'm not a Christian, rather an Orthodox Jew.  But we are now facing a similar issue with the rabbi of our synagogue.  He not only decries the wearing of masks and tells people they shouldn't wear them

I'm sorry but the "not all Christians" thing is kind of tired.  Certainly "not all Christians" is true. No one has ever made allegations about "all Christians."  Segue, we always hear "not a

The issue here is that when I wear a mask, it's not really all that protective of me.  I am not really protected unless you are wearing a mask.  So, in this situation, "you do you" doesn't really work

8 minutes ago, Pawz4me said:

Do you know for sure he doesn't have some underlying condition that makes it impossible or very challenging for him to wear a mask? Otherwise--you're absolutely right that he's wrong.

He outright said that he doesn't want to.

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Pastors are just Christians with a particular spiritual gift.  So I have no problem telling my kids that pastors can be wrong about certain opinions  and can sin etc.  Of course they see that for themselves since their dad is a pastor. . .

Is he at the pulpit without a mask?  (Which I could see because there is distance there and it actually makes it easier for the elderly to read his lips during his sermon.)  Or is he coming close to people with no mask?  If it's the latter, then I would keep far away from him as a potential viral vector. 

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2 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

Pastors are just Christians with a particular spiritual gift.  So I have no problem telling my kids that pastors can be wrong about certain opinions  and can sin etc.  Of course they see that for themselves since their dad is a pastor. . .

Is he at the pulpit without a mask?  (Which I could see because there is distance there and it actually makes it easier for the elderly to read his lips during his sermon.)  Or is he coming close to people with no mask?  If it's the latter, then I would keep far away from him as a potential viral vector. 

He's without a mask at all times. Our church building is small enough that the people sitting closest to him are probably about 8' away. The building is old and without air conditioning, so he actually has a fan up there, which he used this weekend, completely nullifying any distance anyway. 

2 minutes ago, OKBud said:

What are your options?

I would guess they are: talk to him and take it from there, go anyway and tell your kids he's making a bad choice (true), and not go. Anything else?

I hate when people accidentally back ppl into a corner like this. But here you are. Which option feels the least-bad to you?

I'm not sure if there are any other options than those you listed. My husband and I will definitely have to discuss which one to do.

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I'm not a Christian, rather an Orthodox Jew.  But we are now facing a similar issue with the rabbi of our synagogue.  He not only decries the wearing of masks and tells people they shouldn't wear them either but he organized and conducted secret minyans (prayer quorums) throughout our lockdown, which forbade gatherings of 10 or more. He also won't follow physical distancing guidelines nor will let the people supposedly in charge of doing so in the prayer groups from doing so. 

When my husband pointed out the illegality and immorality of such secret prayer groups on FB, he got chastised by this rabbi for saying this on FB (because it's immoral to be on FB or other SM/internet according to this rabbi and his ilk).  This rabbi told him he was doing it and wasn't going to stop.

Also he is making less than kind comments about Black people and the protests, which sets us both off (as a Black woman and my White Jewish ally spouse). He's gone that direction before and I have spoken to him about it.

While we like the synagogue and the people in it, the rabbi is troublesome.  My husband is not going to indoor prayers at this point - our community has both indoor and outdoor minyans.  I can no longer join the weekly class the rabbi teaches because his behavior and beliefs are making it impossible for me to take religious and moral teaching from him.  This is painful for us both.  None of the other synagogues have the combination of things we want and need, so we are going to have to make some serious compromises or the family may break up into different synagogues to worship.

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You're going to have disagreements with a pastor no matter where you are. So will your kids. Because pastors are, you know, human. And sinners. And so are you.

I'd honestly explain this as a disagreement to my kids. That's exactly what we did when our pastor decided to continue services at the beginning of the pandemic (he later stopped when our governor issued a stay-at-home order). We let the pastor know that we disagreed, and we discussed the the kids our reasons for remaining home in order to protect our neighbors. They are smart enough to get it. Sincere people can disagree.

They are still kids and still under your roof, so they should respect your authority as their parents and mask if you require it -- and your pastor should support both your decision to mask and your kids' responsibility to honor their parents. As long as that is happening, I would extend grace and teach your kids to do the same. It's a good lesson for them to learn.

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8 minutes ago, Dotwithaperiod said:

If it’s required by law, then it is a bit more than a disagreement. How would you explain it to a kid who asks why it is ok for a pastor to break the law?

If it's required by law, I missed that point. It's not required by law here.

Regardless, my answer stays the same. Pastors are human. I expect they also drive 10 miles over the speed limit on occasion too. You're not going to find a pastor who doesn't do wrong.

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Yes, I have this issue with my church. Masking in closed, public places is mandatory in my area. Multiple people preach there, and last Sunday the one who preached outright took off his mask because he wanted to. The elders had said that all masks had to remain on the entire time as ordered. It is a very small building with poor circulation. We always sit at the back, but I left right afterwards because of that.

So this morning I left before the the preaching service. During the service before, everyone was facing forward and generally remained masked. 

I don't have younger kids, but I agree that it's a poor example if it's required. It's also tough for people like me who are at risk to sit there with people who don't respect the reasons for masks in a small closed space. My guess is that I'm going to have to keep leaving like I did this morning in order to have the peace of mind I need.

In contrast, there's a local church that has a large sanctuary with good air circulation. The pastor doesn't mask when he's speaking, but they block off the first four rows. When he's done speaking, he puts on his mask. They have a large enough building that they spread people significantly apart, but they don't require masks either. They have people leave by row, only a few people at a time from the back and ask that people congregate outside. The lobby is largely blocked off. 

I really don't know where the line is. This is hard. 

Edited by G5052
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I will just say, I have regularly called out poor adult behavior to my kids on a regular basis since they were very young.  I think it's healthy for kids to know adults aren't magically perfect and make poor decisions for a variety of reasons.  And we discuss those reasons.    If you cut everyone out of your life who makes mistakes, it becomes hard. 

I do think it is especially difficult when someone in a position like this does something that is obviously not modeling good behavior to people that look up to him. That said, is he mic-ed and at least 10 feet from parishioners? Is he not masking when greeting at the end either?  What exactly he is doing would matter to me.  If he is obviously taking no precautions, I would consider not attending.   If you are ok, and can sit far away and completely avoid those who are not masking and are otherwise liking your church community, I think you can let your kids know your concerns and why you are unhappy with the pastor's behavoir while acknowledging church is important to your family and making a change right now doesn't make sense.

Our church is continuing online for the forseeable future and doing small group meet ups outdoors at times.  

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It's an excellent learning opportunity for your kids, to see that the pastor isn't always right and you don't always agree with him.   

However, you need to think about the specific issue here.  If the mask thing bothers you, then it's a problem.   If it's the law and if it makes you uncomfortable that he's not wearing one, I think you need to find out why he isn't wearing one.    

If your pastor was caught speeding more than once, and he said, "My odometer is broken!" that might be a logical reason.   But if he said, "I love to speed!  I will never stop!" that would be pretty messed up.   So I think context could be important here.

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I went through this exact situation a few months ago. 

We're Orthodox Christians. The priest bragged at the last public liturgy that we were not going to close "like the Mormons and the Roman Catholics." (We live in an area with a large Mormon population.) Then the bishop shut everything down a few days later. Basically the priest lost it after that. I think he was so incredibly angry that he was forced to stop public liturgies that he became consumed with anger and lost any perspective. His sermons at the streamed liturgy were very angry and alienated several people. It was all that "there are worst things than death" thing which insinuated that people who supported the shutdowns were not good Christians. Then he said during a sermon that COVID was not more dangerous than the flu. He complained about people wearing masks in public because it scares children. 

Then he came after a friend of ours who offered facts about COVID from a reputable source. He took this as criticism as his claim that COVID was not riskier than the flu. He treated her badly and she was very hurt. Another person objected to the tone of his sermons and went to the bishop. He screamed at her on the phone. He came after me and something I had posted on Facebook. I told him outright that I did not trust that he would take proper precautions against COVID for several reasons including the fact that he does not vaccinate his children. It was bad. He accused me of being "judgmental." He claimed that most people don't vaccinate which shows what a bubble he lives in. He said that said that some doctors agree with him about vaccinations. I replied that those doctors are not well respected which he said was "disrespectful." 

We left the parish soon after that. My DH had to meet him at the bank because DH was on the church account. The bank requires masks but the priest showed up without a mask. 

Then they held their first public liturgy with absolutely no precautions at all. No masks or social distancing. This proved that I was right to assume that he would not take precautions because of his past behavior. I contacted the bishop. Liturgy stopped for two weeks and now they're back and following the precautions required by the bishop. It's pretty obvious what happened. 

It's not a silly reason to find a new church. People who refuse to take precautions are doing so for a number of reasons, all of which are objectionable to me. They are rejecting science. They are probably politically motivated. They likely implicitly believe that they are safe because they pray and God will protect them. These are all problematic as far as I'm concerned. Do we drive in a car without our seatbelts assuming God will protect us? No. I actually think that's almost heretical because it's testing God. We have faith and we pray but we also receive medical treatment, wear seatbelts, and get vaccines. Obviously, I'm evaluating this based on my own tradition which might have a different perspective on this. 

I don't know your church situation but I will caution you that leaving could be painful. I only know my own experience. We were blamed. There are people who won't speak to us. We've lost friends. Our daughter has lost friends. 

It's never just about the mask with most people who refuse to wear them. 

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14 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I went through this exact situation a few months ago. 

We're Orthodox Christians. The priest bragged at the last public liturgy that we were not going to close "like the Mormons and the Roman Catholics." (We live in an area with a large Mormon population.) Then the bishop shut everything down a few days later. Basically the priest lost it after that. I think he was so incredibly angry that he was forced to stop public liturgies that he became consumed with anger and lost any perspective. His sermons at the streamed liturgy were very angry and alienated several people. It was all that "there are worst things than death" thing which insinuated that people who supported the shutdowns were not good Christians. Then he said during a sermon that COVID was not more dangerous than the flu. He complained about people wearing masks in public because it scares children. 

Then he came after a friend of ours who offered facts about COVID from a reputable source. He took this as criticism as his claim that COVID was not riskier than the flu. He treated her badly and she was very hurt. Another person objected to the tone of his sermons and went to the bishop. He screamed at her on the phone. He came after me and something I had posted on Facebook. I told him outright that I did not trust that he would take proper precautions against COVID for several reasons including the fact that he does not vaccinate his children. It was bad. He accused me of being "judgmental." He claimed that most people don't vaccinate which shows what a bubble he lives in. He said that said that some doctors agree with him about vaccinations. I replied that those doctors are not well respected which he said was "disrespectful." 

We left the parish soon after that. My DH had to meet him at the bank because DH was on the church account. The bank requires masks but the priest showed up without a mask. 

Then they held their first public liturgy with absolutely no precautions at all. No masks or social distancing. This proved that I was right to assume that he would not take precautions because of his past behavior. I contacted the bishop. Liturgy stopped for two weeks and now they're back and following the precautions required by the bishop. It's pretty obvious what happened. 

It's not a silly reason to find a new church. People who refuse to take precautions are doing so for a number of reasons, all of which are objectionable to me. They are rejecting science. They are probably politically motivated. They likely implicitly believe that they are safe because they pray and God will protect them. These are all problematic as far as I'm concerned. Do we drive in a car without our seatbelts assuming God will protect us? No. I actually think that's almost heretical because it's testing God. We have faith and we pray but we also receive medical treatment, wear seatbelts, and get vaccines. Obviously, I'm evaluating this based on my own tradition which might have a different perspective on this. 

I don't know your church situation but I will caution you that leaving could be painful. I only know my own experience. We were blamed. There are people who won't speak to us. We've lost friends. Our daughter has lost friends. 

It's never just about the mask with most people who refuse to wear them. 

This is where we are as well.  Except I assume you don't have many other choices in parishes in your community.  We are losing friends and community.  It's painful.  I'm no saint/tzadik, but shaming and blaming are not Christian/Jewish values at all and should not be lauded (as they have been by members of the community) by leaders in those faiths. G-d's blessings on you and your families.

Edited by YaelAldrich
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13 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I don't know your church situation but I will caution you that leaving could be painful. I only know my own experience. We were blamed. There are people who won't speak to us. We've lost friends. Our daughter has lost friends. 

It's never just about the mask with most people who refuse to wear them. 

 

Yes, that's where I am. There were side issues before, and then they outright shut down during the lock down and said "call if you need us." Well, IMHO this was even more of an opportunity to care for each other, and it didn't happen. I tried to reach out, but everyone basically went their own ways.

So in some ways, this is showing me a side of the church that I don't like. It's painful. 

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Have you asked this question of the pastor? Maybe if he has to explain himself to your children, he'll see his foolishness. 

I'm also reminded of the verse in James that says to not let many become teachers because they are held to a stricter standard. If he can't be abide obeying the law or having his behavior questioned, you probably need a different pastor.

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4 minutes ago, YaelAldrich said:

This is where we are as well.  Except I assume you don't have many other choices in parishes in your community.  We are losing friends and community.  It's painful.  I'm no saint/tzadik, but shaming and blaming are not Christian/Jewish values at all and should not be lauded (as they have been by members of the community) by leaders in those faiths. G-d's blessings on you and your families.

We are fortunate enough to have several other options in our area. It looks like they might be better fits for us anyway. The anti-science fundamentalism in our old community was always a problem. It was getting worse and becoming more obvious to our daughter as she gets older. We hung on for a long time and ignored a lot of things in order to keep the peace. The end for me was when he came after our friend for providing facts about COVID. 

2 minutes ago, G5052 said:

 

Yes, that's where I am. There were side issues before, and then they outright shut down during the lock down and said "call if you need us." Well, IMHO this was even more of an opportunity to care for each other, and it didn't happen. I tried to reach out, but everyone basically went their own ways.

So in some ways, this is showing me a side of the church that I don't like. It's painful. 

Yes, it's not like these disputes come out of nowhere. The way people reacted to COVID and now to the protests are telling a lot about them. Our church blew the whole shutdown too. The priest was so angry that it was shutdown that he couldn't even think of ways to accommodate our reality during that time period. Also some of the people who believed it was all a hoax continued to see each other so they didn't see any need to make any changes. It divided people into groups. A better leader would made a difference. It was clear to us after everything that this priest refuses to lead. He is the worst kind of leader. He wants to control but not lead. Coming to that realization made issues that had happened in the last few years clearer. It's the same pattern over and over again. 

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2 hours ago, silver said:

I feel that it puts both me and the pastor in a bad spot to be actively telling my kids things that I think he does wrong.

I do not attend church, nor am I religious, so take this with however many grains of salt you wish, but I think that the pastor is the one who is putting both himself and you in a bad spot.

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Hm, I would have a problem with the pastor breaking the law.  It's not just a disagreement over what's best practices in a pandemic, if it's the law to wear a mask inside.  

I get that it would be hard to preach with a mask on. 

Romans 13:1 includes pastors.   Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.   For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

So, I would be thinking hard about this pastor, and the elders who also serve with the pastor and should be speaking up for following the law. If this is the only thing, well maybe I could overlook it, and figure out how to explain to my kids. But if someone has the attitude of "I don't want to follow this law" I would suspect there might be other issues. 

 

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16 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

We are fortunate enough to have several other options in our area. It looks like they might be better fits for us anyway.

I'm glad! I remember how hard this has been on you and your daughter, and I'm happy you are finding some other options. (curious too, lol, but I get that isn't my business)

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I would flat out ask him, via email, "My children are asking why Pastor Bob is breaking the law and not wearing a mask. I don't know quite how to answer them, so figured I'd go to the source. Could you explain how this law is immoral or sinful, and therefore not one we need to follow?"

 

Edited by Ktgrok
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41 minutes ago, marbel said:

It's not just a disagreement over what's best practices in a pandemic, if it's the law to wear a mask inside.

Though I would argue that a pastor is not necessarily in the position to know what best practices in a pandemic are unless he is an epidemiologist, virologist, or infectious disease specialist as well.

Edited by EKS
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2 minutes ago, EKS said:

Though I would argue that a pastor is not necessarily in the position to know what best practices in a pandemic are unless he is an epidemiologist, virologist, or infectious disease specialist as well.

I'm not an epidemiologist, virologist or infectious disease specialist but I do listen to them.  I think that's the reason why I can have some confidence in using best practices instead of transforming it into some kind of a political or cultural fight as some seem to be doing.  (Which I don't really understand, by the way.) 

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4 minutes ago, EKS said:

Though I would argue that a pastor is not necessarily in the position to know what best practices in a pandemic are unless he is an epidemiologist, virologist, or infectious disease specialist as well.

Right; the point is that people may disagree about some things in good faith, but this is not an argument about which expert says masks are effective and which says they are not. It's about following or not following the law.

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57 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

Yes, it's not like these disputes come out of nowhere. The way people reacted to COVID and now to the protests are telling a lot about them. Our church blew the whole shutdown too. The priest was so angry that it was shutdown that he couldn't even think of ways to accommodate our reality during that time period. Also some of the people who believed it was all a hoax continued to see each other so they didn't see any need to make any changes. It divided people into groups. A better leader would made a difference. It was clear to us after everything that this priest refuses to lead. He is the worst kind of leader. He wants to control but not lead. Coming to that realization made issues that had happened in the last few years clearer. It's the same pattern over and over again. 

 

Exactly. There's a certain mindset that only they are right that I've found troubling at times. I've actually stopped following some of them on Facebook because it just wasn't my thing. One of the elders also made a comment this morning about how this period may be "the beginning of the end of our country." Oh, how positive and uplifting for us when we are there to worship and learn. There were only about 20 in attendance, so I don't think their future is going to be a positive one.

Edited by G5052
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3 hours ago, silver said:

We live in an area where masks are required by law in indoor public areas. Our pastor has chosen to go without a mask anyway. Regardless of how you feel about COVID, masks, etc, I feel that this is a bad example to have in my children's lives. I don't want to teach my kids that you get to ignore a law if you find it inconvenient. I know I can tell my kids that I disagree (they're all school aged, so not as black-and-white thinkers as a 3-year-old would be), but I feel that it puts both me and the pastor in a bad spot to be actively telling my kids things that I think he does wrong. There isn't a way to get the pastor to agree to wear the mask, either. 

So, what do I do? This seems like a really silly reason to find a new church, but I can't see any way around it. By bringing my children to a church, I feel I am implicitly putting my stamp of approval on the pastor as someone they can look up to and trust. I don't feel comfortable doing that in this situation.

I wouldn't be wishy washy about it with my kids.     you can go look up the stats from the spanish flu, those who wore masks faired better than those that didn't.

I currently have an adult child ranting about masks.  the rest of us are shaking our heads - and politely disagreeing while wearing masks. (and pointing out the stores that do not allow entry to those not wearing a mask).

as far as our church goes - it's going to be awhile before we start meeting in person again.  they're talking phase three, or even four where we are.  we're currently in phase 1.5.

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7 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

Yep, and a disability rights issue.  

 

There you go. I hadn't thought of it that way. I have asthma and am older, nearly in the range they talk about. I get allergy shots weekly, and my asthma/allergy doctor has said all along that my goal should be to do everything within my power to at least get it at late as possible because they are learning better ways of handling it all the time. 

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For me, I think it's extremely important to teach our children that unconditional approval for authority figures is almost always inappropriate. It's also almost never true, and it's frequently dangerous. 

All people have strengths and weaknesses. There isn't anyone, at all, ever, that you should encourage your children to think of as someone who "does no wrong" -- it's neither accurate in life, nor correct theology. It's perfectly fine for you to say, "I admire pastor-so-n-so, but I think he is sinning against his neighbours by risking their safety when he chooses not to wear a mask. That makes me really sad, because it's a big mistake and it's the kind of mistake that can hurt people. I really want him to stop, but since I can't make him see things that way, we need to stay away from him until he starts making safer choices."

You can look up to people without approving of them unconditionally. You can respect people while still thinking that some of the things they do are wrong. If your kids aren't sophisticated enough to understand that (even with an explanation) then it's best if they err on the side of *not* encouraging unhealthy and inappropriate admiration. It's better if they lack some respect for a pastor than if they think of a pastor as someone who literally "does nothing wrong". Because disrespect is safer than unhealthy idolization of a human in that position.

Also -- I'd be thinking about a new church just because I don't fancy following the teaching and leadership of someone who would make a heartless risky decision like ignoring public health regulations. It (unlike other areas of potential disagreement) speaks both to a lack of intelligence and a lack of other-focused-love. Both of those are foundational qualities I look for in a leader. He might just be momentarily misguided, but I'd still have a hard time trusting him after knowing that about him.

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OP, I come from a country where Christianity is a tiny minority, so my perspective may be different. One of the guiding mentors of my faith journey other than my parents were a few pastors so that is my background. 

One of the things I have struggled with in American christianity was the cult of personality where pastor seemingly supersedes Jesus. Most of all, religion was never mixed in politics ever.  In my native country, we always respected pastors but they were teachers who taught us the word of God not took a stand on what happened in politics from the pulpit. I find that abhorrent in American Christianity.

"Thou Shalt not take the name of the Lord Thy God in Vain" is a commandment I value very much. If it is too Old Testament, "Thou Shalt not Tempt the Lord thy God" in the words of Jesus himself. I have a simple faith and I do believe actions speak louder than words especially to our children. When I struggled with Christianity in America and almost walked away because I could not find I church I fit in, it was because the faith of my parents and pastors lived out taught me more than any Sunday School or VBS ever did. Your pastor is an important role model in how your children see people of faith. Yes, he is human and cannot be perfect, but if he takes a stand on politics from the pulpit or does not give a reasonable explanation on why he is doing a thing, that is something I myself have viscerally reacted against and I would not put that as an example for my children as a person of faith.

I will also say, sometimes we need to walk away from Church to keep our faith in the Lord. That was what DH and I had to do ultimately. We do not have a church home, but our faith is strong. Set your eyes on the Lord and your faith in the Rock of Ages, he will guide your ways. One of the hardest things DH and I have walked is a faith journey with our values and what we want to give as an example to our children. I will hold you in my prayers.

 

Edited by Dreamergal
Interchanging words Jesus and Pastor that changed entire meaning of sentence while distracted by small child !
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22 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

About a third of our church was masked this week, and nobody was while preaching or singing.  The way our church approached this was that personal conscience and risk dictates the actions, there is no one right or godly way to do it.  Same for those people still staying home.  That is absolutely okay, nobody is to be judging one way or the other.  
 

And that is what I tell my kids - we do what we are convicted to do based on our own circumstances and conscience, and trust God in his work in our brethren and their own situations and hearts.  

 This is great for you, but OP lives in an area where the law still requires masks to be worn indoors. 

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1 hour ago, Ktgrok said:

I would flat out ask him, via email, "My children are asking why Pastor Bob is breaking the law and not wearing a mask. I don't know quite how to answer them, so figured I'd go to the source. Could you explain how this law is immoral or sinful, and therefore not one we need to follow?"

 

I’m sure you weren’t joking, but it makes me laugh anyway! 

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23 minutes ago, Dreamergal said:

OP, I come from a country where Christianity is a tiny minority, so my perspective may be different. One of the guiding mentors of my faith journey other than my parents were a few pastors so that is my background. 

One of the things I have struggled with in American christianity was the cult of personality where pastor seemingly supersedes Jesus. Most of all, religion was never mixed in politics ever.  In my native country, we always respected pastors but they were teachers who taught us the word of God not took a stand on what happened in politics from the pulpit. I find that abhorrent in American Christianity.

"Thou Shalt not take the name of the Lord Thy God in Vain" is a commandment I value very much. If it is too Old Testament, "Thou Shalt not Tempt the Lord thy God" in the words of Jesus himself. I have a simple faith and I do believe actions speak louder than words especially to our children. When I struggled with Christianity in America and almost walked away because I could not find I church I fit in, it was because the faith of my parents and pastors lived out taught me more than any Sunday School or VBS ever did. Your pastor is an important role model in how your children see people of faith. Yes, he is human and cannot be perfect, but if he takes a stand on politics from the pulpit or does not give a reasonable explanation on why he is doing a thing, that is something I myself have viscerally reacted against and I would not put that as an example for my children as a person of faith.

I will also say, sometimes we need to walk away from Church to keep our faith in the Lord. That was what DH and I had to do ultimately. We do not have a church home, but our faith is strong. Set your eyes on the Lord and your faith in the Rock of Ages, he will guide your ways. One of the hardest things DH and I have walked is a faith journey with our values and what we want to give as an example to our children. I will hold you in my prayers.

 

Thank you for sharing your perspective as someone with a non-American background of Christianity. It’s been a divisive factor in my extended family and it’s very sad. 

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27 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

About a third of our church was masked this week, and nobody was while preaching or singing.  The way our church approached this was that personal conscience and risk dictates the actions, there is no one right or godly way to do it.  Same for those people still staying home.  That is absolutely okay, nobody is to be judging one way or the other.  
 

And that is what I tell my kids - we do what we are convicted to do based on our own circumstances and conscience, and trust God in his work in our brethren and their own situations and hearts.  
 

Our area does not have masks as mandatory at all, it’s just suggested and not binding on any one business or the church, so that makes this much more simple to frame as a conscience issue.

The issue here is that when I wear a mask, it's not really all that protective of me.  I am not really protected unless you are wearing a mask.  So, in this situation, "you do you" doesn't really work.  Masking seems to be really effective if EVERYONE does it.  If only a few people do it, it's far, far less effective.  This really isn't one of those situations in which people can agree to disagree, not and protect public health.  

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47 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

Yep, and a disability rights issue.  

 

Well, unfortunately, churches don't have a great track record with those in general. They at least give lip service to being pro-life. But you are absolutely right. And actually, that's sort of how our bishop framed it - that we wear masks in order to make church accessible to the most people. And that by not wearing them, we are making church less accessible. He framed it in terms of loving our neighbor, and the church being a welcoming place, but at the heart of it, yes, disability access is in there. 

Again though, I think he gets it because he lives with an elderly FIL and he himself can't safely be in the church if people are not masking. 

31 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

About a third of our church was masked this week, and nobody was while preaching or singing.  The way our church approached this was that personal conscience and risk dictates the actions, there is no one right or godly way to do it.  Same for those people still staying home.  That is absolutely okay, nobody is to be judging one way or the other.  
 

And that is what I tell my kids - we do what we are convicted to do based on our own circumstances and conscience, and trust God in his work in our brethren and their own situations and hearts.  
 

Our area does not have masks as mandatory at all, it’s just suggested and not binding on any one business or the church, so that makes this much more simple to frame as a conscience issue.

Unfortunately, the bolded, although generally my stance on matters not dictated directly by scripture, doesn't quite work out as well as most issues would, because it is the circumstances of the people around us, and their risk, that should dictate our mask wearing, not our own circumstances and risk level. Because the mask works to protect others, not ourselves. Not wearing a mask because we ourselves are not at risk doesn't do anything to protect other people, and them wearing a mask does very little in comparison to us wearing a mask. (and now I'm convinced that sentence makes zero sense, lol) It is much more like smoking, where our actions impact others, than like wearing a seatbelt or headcovering or observing Halloween or not. 

29 minutes ago, Dreamergal said:

 

I will also say, sometimes we need to walk away from Church to keep our faith in the Lord. That was what DH and I had to do ultimately. We do not have a church home, but our faith is strong. Set your eyes on the Lord and your faith in the Rock of Ages, he will guide your ways. One of the hardest things DH and I have walked is a faith journey with our values and what we want to give as an example to our children. I will hold you in my prayers.

 

I will say as an American who has been part of many traditions here, the cult of personality can vary GREATLY by denomination. It is highest in the nondenominational churches, because by default the church IS the pastor for the most part. Versus a denomination with specific beliefs, practices, etc where no matter who is the pastor/priest, the service and experience is much the same. Sort of like how you never care who the manager is or head cook at McDonalds but you do at a small local restaurant. (not trying to insult churches...I'm having a really weird day, lol)

Now, obviously they have an impact, but it is much less. 

5 minutes ago, Quill said:

I’m sure you weren’t joking, but it makes me laugh anyway! 

LOL, I'm glad. I wasn't joking exactly...but being snarky, yes. I'm REALLY snarky today. 

I've taken up running, yoga, and eating healthier, as well as regular bubble baths and more frequent TeA, and it is NOT enough to counteract what is going on in the world. Grump, grump, grump!

1 minute ago, Terabith said:

The issue here is that when I wear a mask, it's not really all that protective of me.  I am not really protected unless you are wearing a mask.  So, in this situation, "you do you" doesn't really work.  Masking seems to be really effective if EVERYONE does it.  If only a few people do it, it's far, far less effective.  This really isn't one of those situations in which people can agree to disagree, not and protect public health.  

Right. I mean, they can, but by doing so they dictate the safety of those around them. 

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5 minutes ago, Seasider too said:

Thank you for sharing your perspective as someone with a non-American background of Christianity. It’s been a divisive factor in my extended family and it’s very sad. 

This is probably not the place to talk about it, but briefly I will say I have talked with many here who have walked away from the faith and the church's response to certain things is one of the reasons I have heard again and again. It is certainly more complex than that, but I will say it is one reason it brought me close to losing it because the way the faith is practiced here is so very different from what I was used to. It has nothing to do with denominations or language, but more a culture of church. My ultimate saving grace so to speak were my parents and the pastor of my childhood who literally walked me back to Christianity. I could trust them because I have seen it in action my entire life. So I am extremely careful about who I show as mentors of the faith to my children. As the pastor goes, so the church goes I have seen time and again in America, so that is who we look at when we "church shop". 

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9 minutes ago, Seasider too said:

Hey I think she really should ask. His answer will be telling. 

I really would ask. But I'm in a funk, so not saying people should do what I do, lol. I'm at that point where I no longer give a flying fig. 

Also, a redhead. So..yeah...always take advice from a redhead with a grain of salt, lol. 

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3 minutes ago, Terabith said:

The issue here is that when I wear a mask, it's not really all that protective of me.  I am not really protected unless you are wearing a mask.  So, in this situation, "you do you" doesn't really work.  Masking seems to be really effective if EVERYONE does it.  If only a few people do it, it's far, far less effective.  This really isn't one of those situations in which people can agree to disagree, not and protect public health.  

So much this. My husband went out last night to pick up some carry out food we ordered online. There was a very long line at the restaurant, and he was the only customer wearing a mask (here they are required for employees but not customers). One of the employees came over to him, asked his name, and went and brought his order directly to him. There was some grumbling from others in line, but my husband figured maybe the employee just appreciated that at least one customer cared enough about the health of employees to mask. As a healthcare professional, there’s no way he’s not setting the example of wearing a mask, even though they are not generally required here.

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Just now, Arctic Mama said:

It kind of is though, when plenty of areas have low to no community spread.  My family has been back at church for eight weeks now.  I came back two weeks ago.  Not a SINGLE case in our body or the extended group, and most of us don’t know someone in person who has had it, even in our extended families in other states.

It is more likely we will be seriously injured in a car crash than catch covid, in this state’s stats.  And even if it was broader spread, which it may eventually be, homemade masks to limit public spread still might not make sense because of the nature of the activity of communal worship.  I think this is one of those areas where both sides can make an argument for why they are following particular recommendations or not.  But the church isn’t bound on this, though I know some states are.

I’m not interested in debating this, honestly.  I just read the first post and answered where my congregation is at.  We respect the governing authorities, but this is not clear cut and when my pastor actually talked with the governor’s office to get clarification on the phase one guidelines masks for meeting were not mandatory even then, and that was two months ago.

Right. I still would say, if masks are not being worn because there is low risk of spread, that I assume is based on the idea that there is little risk to others, not little risk to self. So still the idea is about is it needed to protect others - you are saying no, not in your area - not on whoever feels at risk, wear one, and if you are not at risk, don't. Same result in the end, if there are not many cases by you, but different reasoning, if that makes sense? And I'm only pointing out the reasoning because the reasons for wearing them will dictate different actions if circumstances change. So if you have a spike in cases in your area, say, the reasoning will matter more than it does right now. 

In my area, a lot of people are saying what you seemed to say (may not have meant it that way) - that only if a person themselves feels at risk, they should wear one. But we DO have cases increasing steadily here...quite seriously actually...so that idea of "I only should wear one if my own conscience says I need to" means people not wearing masks really are putting others at risk. So the idea itself deserves to be addressed, even if in some areas it doesn't matter at the end of the day. 

I really do want to say I have no idea what your area is dealing with case wise, and am not trying to say your church is doing it wrong - just clarifying why the concept itself can cause problems. 

TL:DR - not wearing a mask because there is little risk to others in the parish if you don't wear it is different fundamentally than not wearing one because one doesn't feel at risk themselves. 

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6 minutes ago, Frances said:

So much this. My husband went out last night to pick up some carry out food we ordered online. There was a very long line at the restaurant, and he was the only customer wearing a mask (here they are required for employees but not customers). One of the employees came over to him, asked his name, and went and brought his order directly to him. There was some grumbling from others in line, but my husband figured maybe the employee just appreciated that at least one customer cared enough about the health of employees to mask. As a healthcare professional, there’s no way he’s not setting the example of wearing a mask, even though they are not generally required here.

Yeah, DH has picked up take out once. He came back raving mad about it. Few masks, lots of people trying to crowd him, not distancing, etc. 

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3 minutes ago, Seasider too said:

Same experience. Now we will only do takeout if there’s curbside pickup. 

Yup. 

And I'm super annoyed because I TRIED to do curbside pickup at home depot, and after TEN MINUTES of trying to get through on the phone number they had posted, I finally had to just go in and deal with the un masked masses. 

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17 minutes ago, Arctic Mama said:

It kind of is though, when plenty of areas have low to no community spread.  My family has been back at church for eight weeks now.  I came back two weeks ago.  Not a SINGLE case in our body or the extended group, and most of us don’t know someone in person who has had it, even in our extended families in other states.

It is more likely we will be seriously injured in a car crash than catch covid, in this state’s stats.  And even if it was broader spread, which it may eventually be, homemade masks to limit public spread still might not make sense because of the nature of the activity of communal worship.  I think this is one of those areas where both sides can make an argument for why they are following particular recommendations or not.  But the church isn’t bound on this, though I know some states are.

I’m not interested in debating this, honestly.  I just read the first post and answered where my congregation is at.  We respect the governing authorities, but this is not clear cut and when my pastor actually talked with the governor’s office to get clarification on the phase one guidelines masks for meeting were not mandatory even then, and that was two months ago.

I'd say that you are in a fortunate position to have not one single case in a group who gathers indoors, unmasked, weekly. You are quite right to assess that they only reason that plan is working is because you don't currently have community spread happening. The problem with that kind of reasoning (not you specifically) is that this virus is like lightning. There will never be a "single" case of covid in a weekly-group-up scenario. A group that meets regularly in transmission-happy ways will just suddenly go from having zero cases to having a third of attenders positive. The risk is increased, beyond just sharing air, by activities like singing, touching each other, and sharing food -- activities which characterize church services. Eventually a carrier is going to be somewhere near one of these group members, and the virus is going to silently enter the group before anyone has a clue. No matter how slow the geographic creep is progressing. It's not not going to arrive. Towns are not islands.

Lots of areas, geographically, may not have community spread right now -- the problem with that metric is that you will only know you have community spread *after* you have spreading in your community. Most normal faith gatherings are still high risk because of that unknown factor. Community transmission could have started yesterday and nobody would know until something like next Tuesday. That's why risks like gathering (unmasked, or within 6 feet outdoors, or indoors at all) should absolutely be avoided by anyone who is considered likely to experience severe symptoms, and by people who have those people in their close circles.  (It would be better if those types of gatherings weren't happening at all, because the risk is quite quickly distributed to everyone, not just to the people individuals know that they spend time with.)

With covid 19, one might express it poetically as there being "no such thing as a single case" -- by the time a carrier is known, transmission has already occurred: probably a lot of transmission. That's one of the reasons this thing is as bad as it is.

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Just: hugs to the OP.  My (agnostic) children and I (Christian) were forced out of our church in such an ugly way a bit over a year ago, so I guess I'm not a good resource on how to disagree with one's pastor (mine was a former attorney who threatened to sue me when I kept trying to reconcile; sigh). 

The one thought I had was on framing disobedience to civil authorities.  Christians, and many other people of faith (I include secular humanists here 🙂 ), have a long history of civil disobedience.  This might be part of framing the issue within your family: when ought one disobey the authorities?  My mother-in-law is alive because some Dutch citizens disobeyed orders regarding their Jewish populations during WWII; she and her sisters and parents received forged papers and were hidden away. 

In other words, I think that the Christian call to obey (as in Romans 13:1) requires, as all things I suppose do, prayerful consideration. 

The current situation is not the Holocaust; on the other hand, if the law now calls for masks, that isn't exactly speeding a bit over the limit, either (note that many Christians refuse to speed precisely for this reason).   Not wearing masks is more-careless, if they are required, than speeding a bit. 

This could be a good opportunity to reflect on what legitimate authority and legitimate obedience is. 

Again: hugs. 

ETA: I realized that I mayn't have been clear: I'm coming down firmly in support of mask-wearing.  However, I do think in framing it to the children we don't necessarily want to call it an issue of obeying civil authorities, but rather of obeying civil authorities unless there is a moral imperative to do otherwise

Edited by serendipitous journey
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This is what I have observed since March. The people in my religious circles have railed on and on against fear. Their answer to the shutdowns, mask wearing, and social distancing is that they are not afraid because Jesus tells us not to fear death. It's a non-answer, in my opinion, because they are completely missing the point. None of these actions have ever been about us or them. It is about other people. 

I've found it very enlightening that their immediate reaction to all of this was to think about themselves. It was as if they could not even fathom the idea of doing something for another person. 

Masking is super easy. It's a bit of a pain especially when it's hot. We know that it benefits other people more than it benefits us. There is a legitimate question about the efficacy of mask wearing but the science seems to indicate that there is a benefit. So we have something that appears to reduce the risk to other people that is cheap and easy to do. So why not do it? 

Especially if this person preaches the Gospel. Tells other people how to live their lives. Probably says that some people are immoral or sinning. But they won't do this tiny little one thing that might help other people...really? What does that tell you about what they really think about other people? 

 

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1 minute ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

This is what I have observed since March. The people in my religious circles have railed on and on against fear. Their answer to the shutdowns, mask wearing, and social distancing is that they are not afraid because Jesus tells us not to fear death. It's a non-answer, in my opinion, because they are completely missing the point. None of these actions have ever been about us or them. It is about other people. 

I've found it very enlightening that their immediate reaction to all of this was to think about themselves. It was as if they could not even fathom the idea of doing something for another person. 

Masking is super easy. It's a bit of a pain especially when it's hot. We know that it benefits other people more than it benefits us. There is a legitimate question about the efficacy of mask wearing but the science seems to indicate that there is a benefit. So we have something that appears to reduce the risk to other people that is cheap and easy to do. So why not do it? 

Especially if this person preaches the Gospel. Tells other people how to live their lives. Probably says that some people are immoral or sinning. But they won't do this tiny little one thing that might help other people...really? What does that tell you about what they really think about other people? 

 

The answer I keep seeing is, "because it is hard". Or some variation of that. 

What I don't get is - who the heck said Christianity was easy? You claim to want to emulate Christ who carried a LITERAL cross and was put to death on it, and then say you won't wear a mask because it isn't comfy. Christianity isn't comfortable. 

Our society in general seems to have decided that hard means impossible or something. 

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1 minute ago, Arctic Mama said:

So this is kind of irrelevant too.  Are we not supposed to meet with the possibility of communicable disease ever again then? Or never without masks? There is always a risk of spread, no vaccine on the horizon, etc.

There are more important things in life than a virus, and death comes to us all. How long do we continue this behavior and mitigating our meeting and habits and who gets to decide that for the church? Is it three months more? A year? Until a vaccine that may or may not ever come and may not have total efficacy arrives?

When is it ‘safe’ and who gets to choose? I have no illusions that we are somehow at zero risk of it showing up here, especially when there is spread in this area (it’s just very very low and the fatality rates are even lower).  There is so much finger shaking and pontificating on the public safety on this thread, but precious little discussion of where the line is that makes sense to resume normal civic life with this risk in the background.  As a church we decided where it was for us, as a hospital my child’s facility decided that for themselves and their patients, as a homeschool group my kid’s extension program decided their lines too.  There are always lines, this is not something reasonable to require for life here on out in any communal singing or tight quarters indoors situation.

For us and our area, we crossed the line for safety and have resumed life, most of us.  Some have made a different assessment and are staying home still.  That’s okay too.

Q: "Are we not supposed to meet with the possibility of communicable disease ever again then? Or never without masks? There is always a risk of spread, no vaccine on the horizon, etc."

I think that covid 19's unique characteristics and pandemic status set it up as the only current communicable disease for which it makes sense to ethically refrain from normal styles of religious gathering. (Gathering with masks, low capacity, full distancing, no singing, and no food/drink would be outside of what I would call a "normal style" of religious gathering. Those modifications mitigate the risk quite reasonably.) I would not say "never" -- but I would say "until there is a effective treatment or preventative measures more effective than masks-and-distance, such as a vaccine."

For me, while there are "more important things" than doing what I can to keep my actions from killing or injuring other people, I don't consider my desire to gather with my faith community unmasked and indoors (and possibly to engage in singing or shared eating/drinking while I am there) to be one of those things. While death "comes" for everyone, my conscience will not endure the scenario where I am *willingly* and *knowingly* a part of the chain that unnecessarily brings it to anyone's doorstep.

Q: "How long do we continue this behavior and mitigating our meeting and habits?"

I will be continuing mitigating the damage that could be caused by ordinary religious activities until there is a effective treatment and/or preventative measures more effective than masks-and-distance, such as a vaccine.

Q: "Who gets to decide that for the church?" / "When is it ‘safe’ and who gets to choose?"

(1) The agents of a legally elected legitimate government (at various levels) have the authority to decide whether and when to limit group gatherings for the protection of public health. (2) If governments are not currently restricting gatherings or activities that fit what churches are doing, then each denomination has structures who will be making decisions. about whether and how to hold lower risk gatherings. (3) If a church is not affiliated with a denomination, or if the denomination is not making any statements, the local leadership of each church should take good counsel and use their authority to make choices and set policies for safety. (4) If a local church has decided whether and how to be open for gathering (and  which expressions of worship will be happening during those gatherings) each individual believer has the authority of their own conscience as to whether to attend or not, which activities to participate in, and whether to voice an objection or not.

Q: "Is it three months more? A year? Until a vaccine that may or may not ever come and may not have total efficacy arrives?"

I, like you, doubt that three months more will make any difference. I think a year is a more reasonable estimate, because i think a year will probably yield either a vaccine or an effective treatment. I would not need a 'total efficacy' vaccine: just one that was more effective than masks, distance, and refraining from high transmission activities while in groups.

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5 minutes ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

I get that, as much as I wish it right now, the whole world isn't going to stay shut down until there's a vaccine.  I get that people need to go back to work, and school, and that some degree of social contact is necessary for mental health, and that certain kinds of exercise are necessary for physical health. 

But the question of whether a pastor, someone who literally stands in the place of Christ as the leader of his flock, can wear a mask or a face shield for an hour once a week?  Yes, I see that as something that can continue until a vaccine.  It's not a huge ask.  Asking Grandma to stay home from church until a vaccine?  That's a huge ask.  Compared to that, wearing a mask or face shield is nothing.  

 

Yes. 

And given how historically churches have asked people in incredibly difficult situations to continue a pregnancy, or to live with a debilitating condition without choosing medically assisted euthanasia, to refrain from premarital sex, etc etc etc....asking them to wear a mask for an hour seems small in comparison. 

If they are not, it should be because they feel there is no risk of them transmitting it to others, and that they have no need to set an example in the community, not because they don't like it. 

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3 hours ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

I'm not an epidemiologist, virologist or infectious disease specialist but I do listen to them.  I think that's the reason why I can have some confidence in using best practices instead of transforming it into some kind of a political or cultural fight as some seem to be doing.

Exactly.  Scientific expertise is, for the most part, apolitical.

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