The Pub Test of Religious Liberty

In NSW, Pubs and Clubs are now allowed to open for 50 people but churches are still restricted to 10. I guess that’s because having a beer and playing the pokies is an “essential” service, whereas worshipping God and having a cup of tea or coffee with a small group of people is just too dangerous? At least churchgoers don’t need to be breathalysed after they leave!

But to comprehend just how ridiculous this particular policy is, let’s put it to a literal pub test: Only 20 people can attend a funeral, or up to 30 if it’s held outdoors. And yet, 50 of them can go down to their local pub or club for the wake…

At this point, I’m thinking that maybe more churches should start meeting in their local RSL, or at least hold their funerals there.

COVID-19 has not only destroyed the economy but is also having a devastating effect on the psychological health and emotional well-being of millions of Australians. Why would the government then not want churches to re-open? One of the most basic and practical opportunities this would provide, is to be able to ask each other, RUOK? A public health strategy which has already been used to great effect.

I’m not suggesting that we throw out the window all forms of social distancing, or that we don’t care for those whose immune systems are severely compromised. But this is a moment for the governing authorities to do what’s best for the health and well-being of its people.

There are greater needs than just rebuilding the economy. And as any believer would affirm, divine help and assistance is the most essential activity everyone needs. Not just during COVID-19, but all of the time. As the Bible says:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:6-7)

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