Places of worship told to stop singing, chanting as COVID-19 cases spike in California

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LODI, Calif. (KTXL) — Churches and places of worship have already had to change how they have service because of the pandemic and now they’re being asked to make more changes.

State guidelines for places of worship now say to stop all singing and chanting during in-person services because it can increase the likelihood of spreading the virus. 

“Immediately, I thought that’s wrong. You can’t … we can’t do that,” said Jenny Miller, who attends Cross Culture Community Church in Lodi.

Congregants of the Cross Culture Community Church were locked out of their building after defying stay-at-home orders.

Miller said the governor has gone too far. 

“Throughout the Bible, there are mandates from God telling us as Christians to sing and praise to him. It’s part of our way of telling even unbelievers the great works of God,” she told FOX40. “Who are we supposed to listen to? Do we listen to our government or do we follow our mandate from our God? I’m going to follow the mandate from my God.”

She said she sent a letter to the governor and to the U.S. attorney general expressing her concerns. 

“This letter was specifically about banning singing, which for a Christian, at least, is … that’s one of our ways to express our religion,” Miller said.

“The singing is always lifting up the word,” said Nelson Rabell-Gonzalez, the associate pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Lodi. “But in this case, we just gonna have to be happy with the word alone for the benefit of other people and for our own well-being.”

Rabell-Gonzalez told FOX40 that while his church still isn’t meeting in person yet, when they do, they’ll follow local and state guidelines. Directives from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America also restrict singing, chanting and communal prayer at in-person services to keep members safe.  

“As clergy, we are taught to care for our flock, I think it would be negligent. It would not be showing love to neighbor if we were all of a sudden open up the church as if nothing has happened,” Rabell-Gonzalez said.

He said following health guidelines is the Christian thing to do. 

Read the governor’s guidelines for places of worship below:

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