I was dismayed to learn about the letter that the supervisors have written to the governor requesting a waiver for indoor religious worship and making a comparison with shopping in stores.
It seems to me that shopping for food, vital for survival, is not the same as worshipping in a communal setting. At a religious venue the people are stationary, they stay together for longer, they chant or sing simultaneously, they all arrive and depart at the same time and are likely to exchange physical touches.
Adherence to a faith is a personal matter, and the lack of the customary place to practice one’s faith is no deterrent to being a believer and following the obligation for prayer. One can pray alone or read religious texts absolutely anywhere. Furthermore, one can easily “attend” virtual worship services on the computer or TV, which serves the same purpose as going to a building with other people. As for outdoor meetings, having observed the clustering of congregants outside at a nearby church, I am not convinced that all protocols will be conscientiously observed in that setting.
Another way to look at this is to consider the responsibility of government toward the governed: namely to protect the citizenry against threats. COVID-19 is a huge threat and causes death and injury and economic distress. There are science-based means of combating it, just as we maintain a military force to protect our interests against threats, real or perceived, from foreign countries.
The virus has attacked our country and so the government, local, state or national, is required to take action to protect us from this threat to our physical health. This has proved difficult in the United States because of the lack of a concerted defensive plan, but that doesn’t mean that government may abdicate its responsibilities entirely or undertake only half-measures.
In view of the viral crisis predicted for this winter and the necessity to reduce its spread as much as possible, I hope the supervisors will review their stance.