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California bans singing in worship

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 7/04/20, 01:37 pm

Golden State churches already have to keep their Sunday morning attendance to 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is lower. Now they can’t sing or chant. In new coronavirus guidelines issued last week, the California Department of Public Health noted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that singing can spread germs as widely as coughing or sneezing. The public health order, which applies to indoor worship, also requires churches to make masks available to those who show up without them.

How will the state enforce the ban? The order doesn’t include penalties, but Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, warned local officials they would risk losing state funding if they didn’t enforce health rules. Many places of worship said they would comply voluntarily. “We recognize that singing is a challenge,” Jason Batt, the chief operating officer of the Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, told The Sacramento Bee. The church already canceled its choir activities. The number of new cases being confirmed each day in the state has increased in the past two weeks.

Dig deeper: Read Steve West’s report in Liberties about court challenges to California’s limits on worship during the pandemic.

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Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital's managing editor. She is a graduate of World Journalism Institute, the Missouri School of Journalism, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Lynde resides with her family in Wichita, Kansas. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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  • Narissara
    Posted: Sun, 07/05/2020 12:33 pm

    I'm curious how members of mosques and synagogues feel about these new restrictions.  Or do the rules apply only to Christian houses of worship?  Attendees already have to wear masks, so what is the issue, really?  There's a reason freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom to peacably assemble are all contained in the same Amendment, and there's a reason these are all addressed First.  How far do we have to bend before the prohibition on the establishment of a state religion is tossed out.  This is no small concession.  Consider some of Martin Luther's thoughts on the importance of music during worship:

    We can mention only one point (which experience confirms), namely, that next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. No greater commendation than this can be found — at least not by us. After all, the gift of language combined with the gift of song was only given to man to let him know that he should praise God with both word and music, namely, by proclaiming [the Word of God] through music.

    The devil, the originator of sorrowful anxieties and restless troubles, flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the Word of God....Music is a gift and grace of God, not an invention of men. Thus it drives out the devil and makes people cheerful. Then one forgets all wrath, impurity, and other devices.

    After theology I give to music the highest place and the greatest honor.

  •  mizpahlady's picture
    Posted: Sun, 07/05/2020 03:49 pm

    Although it is challenging to sing with a mask on- I would rather do that than give it up totally.   I agree with your comments, and Luther.   Music is important to our worship.  They all site that one case of an enclosed space choir rehearsal in Washington or Oregon.   Haven't heard of any others.  Has anyone?

  • Glong
    Posted: Mon, 07/06/2020 10:15 am

    "The order doesn’t include penalties, but Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, warned local officials they would risk losing state funding if they didn’t enforce health rules."

    Last I knew, no government officials were ALLOWED to enforce government edicts in houses of worship. I don't see local police checking every church, mosque, and synagogue DURING services. This is patently ridiculous and unconstitutional. I agree that unmasked singing is a risk for spread of the coronavirus, but it should be up to individual churches, etc. to decide this issue for themselves based on science.

  • Nanamiro
    Posted: Mon, 07/06/2020 11:53 pm

    He is banning MASKED singing. So, I guess masks only work when you aren't in church...

  • Big Jim
    Posted: Mon, 07/06/2020 01:49 pm

    Well, if I was forced to NOT sing in church, I'm pretty sure those within earshot ... would rejoice  ;-)

  • JD
    Posted: Mon, 07/06/2020 07:10 pm

    This was not singing without masks. It was singing, period! We did not sing yesterday, although we were allowed to the week before, with masks. We went outside to sing the concluding hymn our pastor requested, as he is resigning and this was his last Sunday to preach for us. 

  • Nanamiro
    Posted: Mon, 07/06/2020 11:50 pm

    This is very strange. I thought mask wearing was supposed to keep those water molecules in while coughing, sneezing, talking etc. Surely singing would fit in there. If masks work, why would Newsom not trust them to do their job when singing, but we are supposed to trust them to do their job when talking, coughing or sneezing? There seems to be never-ending inconsistancies. I'm having trouble trusting our leaders decisions more and more every day.

  • OldMike
    Posted: Tue, 07/07/2020 07:17 pm

    Agreed, plus in my church's worship services, we are at least 6' apart.  I'm having trouble trusting SOME leaders' decisions more every day.  Newsom for sure, if I was unfortunate enough to live in Cali. 

  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Sat, 07/11/2020 07:24 pm

    Newsom plans to release 8000 prisoners by the end of August 2020 due to the virus.  Maybe he plans to replace them with church choirs.