Souls to the Polls is encouraging Black churches to vote in the presidential election.
“Family, this is the most important vote of my lifetime. And this Sunday, October 25th, is an early voting Sunday. We’re asking everyone to leave church. Leave virtual or in-person service … and vote!” the Rev. Greg Lewis, executive director of Souls to the Polls Milwaukee, said in an announcement on Facebook Friday.
Souls to the Polls started before the 2008 presidential election, where church leaders asked members to “take your souls to the polls” and go directly from Sunday services to the polls.
Souls to the Polls Milwaukee Program Coordinator Bruce Colburn told The Christian Post this week that the response to the effort has been “very good, very supportive.”
“People understand that this is a very important election and it affects their future very strongly,” he said.
In South Florida, hundreds of voters and volunteers showed up at an event Sunday to rally others to get to the polls.
“We’re celebrating getting out the vote,” said Katrice Johnson, a Hallandale Beach resident and organizer with the non-partisan group Faith in Florida. “We don’t care who you vote for. We just want you to vote.”
Minister Tim Griffith, of Pembroke Pines, told the crowd that every vote matters.
“It’s bigger than you,” he said of the upcoming election. “Tell your sons, tell your daughters, send out a mass text message [to get out the vote].”
Missionary Rochelle Landingham said 60 percent of the Black community voted in the 2012 election.
"What would happen if it was 85 or 90 percent of us?" she said.
"If you know your history, you know that we're standing on the backs of people who died for us to have this moment in time," Landingham said. "This is what they died for way back when — for us to vote in 2020."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Seventy Four
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.
(RNS) — A Charlotte, North Carolina, church was declared an “imminent hazard” and ordered closed until Nov. 6 after an outbreak of COVID-19 led to more than 121 cases and at least three deaths. The closure took effect Saturday (Oct. 24).
The abatement order from the state’s health director, Gibbie Harris, was issued for the United House of Prayer for All People, which hosted more than 1,000 people at a weeklong event held Oct. 4 through Oct. 11. The event, described as a convocation, led to the largest community-based outbreak in Mecklenburg County, according to Harris.
Based in Charlotte, the Pentecostal church meets in several locations, but its leadership has refused to comply with recommendations for social distancing and wearing masks.
Harris said the church has also refused to provide information for contact tracing of those infected.
The closure was implemented in part because the church was planning a “Whirlwind Revival,” Oct. 26 to Oct. 31.
Calls to the church were not answered on Monday.
Nationwide, numerous churches have resisted state orders limiting the size of indoor gatherings and requiring social distancing guidelines. Some have sued, claiming that banning religious gatherings is a violation of the First Amendment’s freedom of religion clauses.
In Los Angeles, Grace Community Church pastor John MacArthur defied California’s COVID-19 regulations by opening the doors of his church, allowing unmasked congregants to sing in close proximity to each other.
Last week, three confirmed COVID-19 cases had been tied to Grace Community.
On Sept. 10, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge granted a preliminary injunction against Grace, prohibiting MacArthur from holding indoor worship services. MacArthur, however, has continued to hold in-person services, with congregants singing and sitting next to each other without masks.
The Charlotte United House of Prayer church is part of a network founded in the early 20th century by an immigrant from Cape Verde known as “Sweet Daddy Grace.” The churches are typically gothic monuments guarded by statues of lions on either side of the entryway. The Charlotte church has a central spire flanked by six smaller spiked spires. It has a seating capacity of 2,500 worshippers in its main sanctuary, a smaller chapel with a capacity of 700 and a parking lot with 600 spaces.
North Carolina has had more than 250,100 cases of COVID-19 and 4,100 deaths.
The state is under a Phase 3 reopening, which requires mass gathering limits to remain at 25 indoors and 50 outdoors. The mass gathering limit, however, does not apply to religious gatherings. But the state has issued recommendations for churches that call for social distancing, wearing a mask and limiting occupancy to 100 people per room or 30% of stated fire capacity, whichever is less.
Article originally published by Religion News Service. Used with permission.
Photo courtesy: ©RNS/Google Maps
LOS ANGELES (RNS) — Attorneys for Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church are condemning recent headlines declaring a coronavirus outbreak in the megachurch that has defied public health orders since July.
The Los Angeles Times on Thursday reported that three confirmed COVID-19 cases had been tied to the church. The headline for that story read: “Coronavirus outbreak strikes L.A. megachurch that defied public health orders.”
Jenna Ellis, attorney for John MacArthur and Grace Community Church, in a statement, said the cases shouldn’t be characterized as an ‘outbreak.’ She called the LA Times headline “grossly misleading.”
“Three very mild positive tests among more than 7,000 people is hardly news,” Ellis said.
Less than 1% is not an outbreak, she said.
“It has never been the Church’s position that it is only safe to hold services if no one ever tests positive, or for example, if no one ever gets the flu during flu season,” continued Ellis.
Los Angeles County’s health protocols for places of worship require that Grace Community Church report to the Department of Public Health when at least three cases of coronavirus are reported or identified within a span of 14 days.
That way, public health officials can determine if there is an outbreak and provide infection control guidance, technical support and site-specific outbreak control measures.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Sept. 10 granted a preliminary injunction against Grace Community Church, prohibiting MacArthur from holding indoor worship services. MacArthur, however, has continued to hold in-person services, with congregants singing and sitting next to each other without masks.
The county said Grace Community Church is not only violating the county’s public health order, but also the court’s preliminary injunction.
“These types of large gatherings (especially indoors) jeopardize the County’s efforts to control [the] spread of the virus and keep people safe,” the county said. “Parties cannot violate court orders with which they don’t agree.”
But, according to Ellis’ statement, the county is being selective in whom it restricts. “LA County shutting down churches indefinitely amid a virus with a 99.98% survival rate, especially when state-preferred businesses are open and protests are held without restriction, is unconstitutional and harmful to the free exercise of religion.”
Church leaders have said they will follow the Bible instead of health regulations.
“We will obey God rather than men. We’re going to be faithful to our Lord,” MacArthur told his congregants in a July 31 video. “We’re going to leave the results to him.”
Article originally published by Religion News Service. Used with permission.
Photo courtesy: ©RNS/Vimeo Grace Community Church