The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently told churches and other houses of worship to start preparing for life after the coronavirus pandemic passes over, as reported by ABC News.
In a letter sent to multiple religious leaders, Brian Harrell, the assistant director for infrastructure security at DHS, said that “although many people undoubtedly continue to practice their faith, including through remote services and prayer, most are inevitably eager to return to normalcy and join their fellow congregants in practicing their faiths.”
“The American people are resilient, and will achieve this goal soon,” Harrell reassured the leaders.
Harrell further suggested that “social distancing” measures may have to remain in place long after the worst of the virus has passed, and that churches should “review your security plans and ensure procedures are in place to protect your facilities and visitors.”
Harrell’s letter ended by thanking the leaders for “everything you do to champion the American people’s Constitutional First Amendment rights, as well as your leadership in keeping our houses of worship safe and secure.”
Churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship have become prominent symbols of hope and unity in the midst of the pandemic, with many facilities continuing to hold in-person worship services. Some have faced backlash, including a pastor in Florida who was arrested for continuing to hold services even though his church maintained social distancing and other hygiene protocols.