A church in Colorado Springs has continued to conduct in-person sermons despite a state order that banned the gathering of more than 10 that went into effect on March 19.
A video posted to the Colorado Springs Fellowship Church Youtube channel on March 23 depicted a service dated as March 22, 2020 with dozens in attendance. The video of the service was titled “Fear Not.”
Starting with a song, the video quickly pans to an audience worshipping in close proximity. As Pastor Rose Banks, 75, takes the stage, she offers her audience words of encouragement amid the COVID-19 outbreak, telling them that “if you’re serving God, you have nothing to fear […] God always takes care of his people.”
Later into the sermon, Banks questions the recommendation of social distancing, “if what you tell me, you can show it to me in scripture that I should abide by that, I’m gonna do it. But if it ain’t in this book [the Bible], I’m not doin’ it.”
According to a report by KRDO, the leadership at the church has cited their constitutional rights in the decision to stay open, stating that they have no plans to close.
In the sermon, Banks starts to address whether or not the church is legally required to close at roughly 49 minutes into the posted video, stating that attorneys said “they can’t make you close the church doors […] they can ask you to, they can give you an order, but they can’t break the law.”
The first amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The public health order that limits gatherings to 10 reads: “Effective at 12:01 AM on March 19, 2020, all mass gatherings shall be limited to no more than ten (10) people. Gatherings subject to this Order include, but are not limited to, community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based events, sporting events with spectators, concerts, conventions, fundraisers, parades, fairs, festivals, and any similar event or activity that brings together (10) or more persons in a single room or space at the same time in a venue such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, private club, or any other confined indoor or outdoor space.”
Failure to comply with the order is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and jail for up to a year. The question has been raised if repercussions could impact not just event organizers, but also those in attendance.
Many churches and religious groups around the country have turned to online tools, such as video chat, to stay connected during social restrictions. Keep at least six feet of distance between yourself and others and avoid interacting for more than 10 minutes.
COVID-19 infections near 1,000 in Colorado with the death toll at 11. Both numbers are subject to increase with the new daily report at 4 PM.