March 5, 2021

Global News Archive

News archives from around the world.

Bay Area religious leaders have mixed reactions to Supreme Court affirmation of indoor worship – San Francisco Chronicle

4 min read

In the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the pandemic ban on indoor religious services in California, some Bay Area religious leaders embraced the renewed opportunity to worship inside, but others said they will continue to hold remote services.

Salvatore Cordileone, the archbishop of San Francisco and an outspoken foe of the closure of indoor services, called the decision a “very significant step forward for basic rights” and a “breath of fresh air in dark times.” Worshipers, he said, were now free of “harassment from government officials.”

Health officials, however, urged caution.

Santa Clara County said that it would continue to bar indoor worship despite the Supreme Court ruling, explaining that with transmission rates still high, “it remains critical to avoid potential superspreader events including indoor gatherings.” The county said its orders were structured differently than California’s purple-tier rules and therefore accorded with the Supreme Court’s order. “All indoor gatherings remain prohibited at this time due to their risk,” the county said. The county did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday night explaining how its orders differed sufficiently from the state’s.

San Francisco acting Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip also said the risk remains high, not least because of new, potentially more infectious variants spreading.

“I … particularly urge seniors and other people with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems — and those who live with seniors and people with such conditions — to defer participating in indoor religious services at this time and to find safer alternatives to practice their faith, such as participating in outdoor services or remote streaming of services,” Philip said in a statement.

The conservative-majority high court voted 6-3 to reverse lower court rulings that sustained bans on indoor religious gatherings as virus cases surged. The decision late Friday said gatherings could resume at 25% of a building’s capacity. The court upheld the state ban on indoor singing or chanting during services.

All but four California counties are under purple tier restrictions, which previously meant indoor religious services were banned. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said Saturday it plans to issue revised guidelines for worship services after the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Health experts have said indoor gatherings of multiple households are high risk, and outbreaks have been linked to houses of worship in Sacramento, San Diego, New York, Massachusetts and elsewhere.

Few houses of worship appeared likely to reopen Sunday. The weather is nice, and many religious leaders were just learning of the decision Saturday. A call to the rectory at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in San Francisco yielded an audio recording reporting an “outbreak of COVID here at the rectory” and asking for prayers. The church is closed until Feb. 13, the recording said.

The head of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco said the giant stone edifice on Nob Hill would remain closed for indoor worship. The cathedral reopened for one service in November but closed when infection rates rose during the fall.

“We’re trying to follow the science, and we’re trying to be patient,” said Dean Malcolm Clemens Young. The Supreme Court was “not doing anyone a favor” by lifting the ban, he said.

“We are grateful that no one has been exposed to COVID because of anything we’ve done,” Young said.

Cordileone viewed the matter differently.

“As Catholics, we know that our worship cannot be livestreamed,” he said in a statement.

“There is no way to give Communion, or any of the other sacraments, over the internet,” he said, adding that churches would protect public health by using masks and social distancing.

Calvary Chapel, a San Jose church that has defied county orders and held services for months, is scheduled to hold servi ces at 9 and 11 a.m. Sunday, according to a recorded message. A Santa Clara Superior Court judge found the church in contempt of court orders and issued fines in December, which did not deter the church from holding Christmas Eve services. The church didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

At Temple Beth Shalom in San Leandro, cantor Linda Hirschhorn said she welcomed the court decision because, she said, “if it’s OK to allow indoor gatherings at 25% capacity, it should be across the board.”

Her congregation of about 300 members had not decided when or whether to resume indoor services.

As a cantor, or singer and chanter of Jewish prayers, Hirschhorn said she didn’t much care for the continued ban against singing and chanting.

The temple doesn’t plan to make any changes to its online services.

“We’re getting way more attendance right now on Zoom,” she said.

Chronicle staff writers Michael Cabanatuan and Lauren Hernández and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Steve Rubenstein is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: srubenstein@sfchronicle.com

Source Link

Leave a Reply

Copyright ©2016-2021 Global News Archive. All rights reserved.