Because San Francisco has your health in mind.
By Katelyn McCarthy
The City of San Francisco, like most areas of the country, is slowly lifting its shutdown. Today, you can go to a florist, an aquarium, or a mall at 50, 25 and 25% capacities, respectively. You can go into a store and buy basketballs, baby dolls, or cannabis. You can go swimming in an outdoor swimming pool. You can even get a tattoo or a massage—and indoors, to boot.
However, if at the end of a long day of shopping and preening you should drive up to a church, please know that you must be very careful. Churches are dangerous places. You are much more likely to catch the coronavirus by entering a quiet church than you are by walking around the throw pillow aisle at Target that you and a few hundred others have meandered down during the course of the day.
Check out San Francisco’s list of businesses permitted to open. Most of them are allowed to, though a few services, like indoor playgrounds and concert venues, remain closed. Of those permitted to open, however, none have more stringent rules foisted upon them than churches.
This is because the City of San Francisco is concerned about your health. They care about you, they really do. That’s why they let you buy marijuana, get a tattoo, be massaged, and permit only one person inside a church at a time. Remember. They have your safety in mind.
Some may claim that the institutions which have been permitted to open at reasonable capacities are allowed to do so so as to sustain the economy. This, however, is based on the presupposition that economic good is the only good. The government, separated as it is supposed to be from religion, has no authority to make that decision. The City evidently thinks that going to a store, with safety measures and reasonable entry quotas put in place, can be conducted safely. The same reasoning ought to be applied to churches.
But can going to church be conducted safely? Picture yourself in the Saint Mary’s Chapel. You are sitting in the back pew and are behaving as though you are a San Franciscan, which is why you are the only person inside. Now picture another person, in the front pew. How likely do you think it is that you will catch the coronavirus from him? Add a few people scattered throughout the middle. They are all about 20 feet away from you and are masked. Would you regard this as a highly infectious situation?
Now picture yourself at Target. You are pushing your cart down the aisle, and a lady squeezes just past you. You wheel over to the clothes section and riffle through a rack of t-shirts. A kid is standing on the opposite side of the rack, rummaging, too. A little while later, you lock wheels with a shopper as you both make your way through the laundry detergent section. Then you head over to the ice cream aisle, where a man opens the freezer, pulls out a carton of rocky road, and walks away. You open the same freezer and grab a carton of your own. After this, you head to the Halloween section, where families are looking at candy and snatching up the last of the back-to-school supplies.
Finally, you make it to the checkout line. A few dozen people are conglomerated there, each taking turns to load their goods onto the conveyor belt. You give your money to the cashier, who has handled plenty that day, and she gives you your change. As you leave, more and more people file into the store. They have been doing so since early this morning, and they will continue to do so until late this evening.
Make a choice. Of these two buildings—the Target, or the church—which do you think is more likely to allow for the transmission of Covid?
The answer is pretty clear. A church, which far fewer people generally enter and in which the people are stationary and touch very little, seems to be the safer place. Why, then, does the City think that it is safe for many hundreds of people to go into a store throughout the day (even for non-essential goods), but two people ought not be allowed in a church at the same time?
The answer is easy. Organized religion is the single largest threat to tyrants everywhere. A religion is the only institution which competes with the government for seniority. It is the only thing that can compel a citizen to do not what the state wants but what the moral code demands.
The religious person’s primary allegiance is not to his government but to his God. A religious American carries around the stars and stripes surmounted by the Cross. The Cross comes first. Government comes second.
That’s why religious people need to be put in their place. They need to remember that Big Brother is always there and that he has fists of iron and is clad with boots studded with spikes. He wears a face with lips that speak, “I care about you” and performs actions that say, “I really don’t.”
So, when Nancy Pelosi instructs the Archbishop of San Francisco that the restriction on churches is necessary, she does not really mean, as she says, “I think we should follow the science on this.” If that were the case, only one person would be allowed inside a florist, instead of half of the facility’s capacity. If that were the case, aquariums and toy stores would allow just one person in at a time, too. If that were the case, then why would the City of San Francisco let a masseuse come anywhere near its beloved citizens?
It’s simple. It’s not about the science. Florists, aquariums, and the like are being treated reasonably. Churches are not.
The City doesn’t think we should follow the science on this. It thinks we should follow the government officials on this simply because they are government officials. The City says, “I think you churches should stop thinking that you are important and recognize that I, not God, am god.”
There is something seriously wrong with a city that is more concerned with its citizens’ ability to have their nails buffed than to step into a church and pray. That “something” is nothing more than discrimination and intimidation, masked over as it might be by crocodilian pronouncements of good intentions.
But, please, don’t let me mislead you. The City really loves you. Everything is in your best interest. Now go out and get a massage.
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Ryan Ford '23,