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Over 5,000 Christian Pastors & Lay Leaders Rebuke a Potential COVID-19 Easter Massacre

March 26, 2020

Michelle Nealy, mnealy@faithinpubliclife.org, (202) 735-7123
Austin Schuler, aschuler@faithinpubliclife.org, (540) 280-3393

Over 5,000 Christian Pastors & Lay Leaders Rebuke a Potential COVID-19 Easter Massacre

Prominent protestant, Catholic and evangelical leaders are calling on the Trump Administration to follow the social distancing guidance of public health experts.

Washington, D.C. — Over 5,000 Christian clergy and lay leaders have signed a letter condemning President Trump’s touting of an end to social distancing by Easter Sunday, instead urging the administration to strongly support continued social distancing, and to use the Defense Production Act to marshal vital medical equipment for people serving at the front lines of the pandemic.

“Coaxing Christians into crowded church buildings in a time of pandemic is not an act of faith or love: it is a dangerous act with deadly consequences,” the letter states. “As we confront the historic challenges brought by the pandemic, saving as many lives as possible must come first.”

Prominent faith leaders who have endorsed the letter include: Rev. Jennifer Butler, CEO, Faith in Public Life; Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice; Brian McLaren, writer; Lisa Sharon Harper, President and Founder of Freedom Road; Kathy Khang, author, speaker, activist; Pastor Jason Ridley, Pastor of Hilltop Community Worship Center in Columbus, Ohio; Rev. Meg A. Riley, Church of the Larger Fellowship; Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, Fellow, Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative, Center for American Progress. Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie, University Chaplain and Director of the Center for Peace and Spirituality, Pacific University; Rev. Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite, President Emerita and Professor Emerita, Chicago Theological Seminary; Elaina Ramsey, Red Letter Christians; Rev. Walter Contreras, Vice President of National Latino Evangelical Coalition; Rev. Nathan Empsall, Faithful America; Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray, ninth president of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

For the full letter and list of signers, click here.

Rev. Jennifer Butler, CEO, Faith in Public Life:
“There is no better way to experience Jesus’ Resurrection than to care for our vulnerable neighbors by heeding public health officials’ instructions to stay home. If we reopen our churches for Easter during a pandemic, we have missed the whole point of the resurrection. We must do what Jesus called us to do: heal the sick and take care of the widow and the orphan. May this time of personal sacrifice strengthen us all in our spiritual journey.”

Rev. Dr. Chuck Currie, University Chaplain and Director, Center for Peace and Spirituality, Pacific University:
“The coronavirus has created an unparalleled crisis for this generation. Making matters worse has been a confusing federal response. As a father and a university chaplain, my primary concern is for the young. We must listen to public health officials. Donald Trump’s irrational and ill-informed decisions on COVIDー19 may mean we mourn for a generation or more each Easter the senseless deaths of many in the valueless pursuit of profit.”

Lisa Sharon Harper, Founder and President, Freedom Road:
“Stewardship matters to God. Pastors are shepherds of the church, appointed to protect, care for and cultivate the spiritual development of those whom God has entrusted to them. Pastors who choose to test God’s power by leading their flocks into danger are not pastors at all. They are pied pipers; wolves in shepherd’s clothing. They threaten the lives and families of their flocks, and death may be the consequence. Faith leaders must reject the President’s call to fill churches on Easter Sunday and exercise the kind of faith that explores new ways to bring congregations together online until doctors and scientists confirm it is safe for their flocks to join hands in shared space again.”


Faith in Public Life is a national movement of clergy and faith leaders united in the prophetic pursuit of justice, equality and the common good. Together, we are leading the fight to advance just policies at the state and federal level. Our network of 50,000 leaders engage in bold moral action that affirms our values and the human dignity of all.

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