What happens when a local news outlet does a hit piece on a church that has permission by the governor to hold services during the COVID-19 pandemic, as long as they adhere to the specified health guidelines? What happens when that church begins to receive threats of violence and hate mail for holding church services after the news report is aired on TV? Is the news reporter or the local news station held accountable for their misleading and inflammatory reporting?
Why is it okay for the left to attack a church? Where are the reporters playing ‘gotcha’ in front of the local mosques?
The Federalist reports – It was a parishioner who called local news and possibly the police on Rev. Kevin Martin for continuing to hold services during coronavirus shutdowns, even though he had explicit state permission to do so while taking extra health precautions.
Members of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Raleigh, N.C. were filmed by local television as they walked with their spouses and children into the church to worship and receive critical spiritual care at a time of unprecedented global panic. Families kept six feet apart and came in limited numbers, and the sanctuary was sanitized between services.
News cameras staked out the private property and filmed all entering and exiting for approximately two hours, Martin said, then posted their faces for the world to see under the headline “Raleigh church held in-person services Sunday.”
WRAL reporter Amanda Lamb, stood in front of the church and filmed parishioners coming and going from small church services. Although the church was not violating any laws, the reporter mocked the pastor and parishioners, suggesting they were violating government health guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lamb held up a response from the pastor as she sarcastically told her viewers that Pastor Kevin Martin claims he is “exempt” from the order.
While WRAL never spoke with any of the parishioners, they did happen to blur out the hand of one man leaving the church, telling their viewers he gave them the “middle finger.” They also mocked a letter from Pastor Martin to his parishioners, reminding them that their faith is essential.
After it aired, Martin and his church received “more than 100” hate messages, including several threats of violence, he said in an interview.
So he, unlike the vast majority of pastors in the United States, has continued to bring his flock to the altar during this pandemic, while abiding by government health guidelines to allay fears and respect authorities so long as they don’t outlaw the practice of his people’s faith.
Local police were also called to the church on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter when Martin was conducting services of nine parishioners or fewer and sanitizing the sanctuary in between.
Two officers visited the church, reviewed Martin’s state letter authorizing him to operate as an “essential” service, and said, “You are perfectly in keeping with the law, what you’re doing is absolutely fine, have a nice day,” Martin said. “One officer gave me his cell [number] and said, ‘If anyone bothers you, let me know.’”
North Carolina seems to be a rarity in allowing applications for state designation as “essential” and thus allowed to operate during the shutdown. It is also one of the states that designated “places of worship” as essential services, according to Gov. Roy Cooper’s office. His shutdown order also explicitly allows “travel to and from a place of worship.”
Yet the order also required churches to operate within stricter rules than other essential services, particularly in only being allowed to serve 10 or fewer people at one time. Retail stores were not limited to 10 or fewer people, a common disparity among governors’ orders that discriminates against houses of worship.
In the United States, religious discrimination is illegal and clearly unconstitutional, although in this form, it has been rampant during the coronavirus panic. For example, some governors such as Indiana’s Eric Holcomb have even dared to meddle in how pastors administer the sacrament of communion. Others have banned communion, while still allowing restaurants to serve food right to customers’ hands.