Download before It Disappears: State Re-writes the Rite of Holy Communion
In a recent blog I made the claim that a state government had overstepped the proper distinction between civil and ecclesiastical authority in urging churches to revise their rite of Holy Communion. I was unwilling to publish such a bold claim without first receiving constructive feedback from people with theological and legal expertise. As one of my Facebook friends replied following publication, “I can't believe it. Honestly.”
Dumbfounded, I discovered today that tyranny has taken a stronger stance. For Communion in Connecticut, the new faithful now follow this revised rite (emphasis added, as if the following phrases aren’t already jarring enough!):
Communion: Should be performed as follows:
All Communion lines should be single file, with people wearing masks, approaching row by row and keeping 6 ft. apart, except for family members. Neither the priest nor the communicants should wear gloves during the distribution of Holy Communion.
The priest should hold the consecrated host over the communicants’ outstretched hands and drop the host into their hands without touching their hands. There will be no distribution of the Precious Blood.
Communicants will receive the consecrated host in their hand, step to at least 6 ft. away, lower their mask, consume the host, replace their mask, and return to their pew.
Ironically, the state favors the Body (in, with, and under the bread) over the Blood (in, with, and under the wine), despite the fact that Communion wine contains a heavy dose of germ-killing alcohol served in a germ-killing silver chalice. If ever there was a time to “take and drink,” isn’t it now?
Download and read for yourself—yes, download, for in our Orwellian age, this would not be the first time that I have seen the ephemeral internet modified without leaving a trace. Indeed, my lawyers presently are suing another state governor over that very form of evasively denying citizens their Due Process rights. (If you don’t understand what “Due Process” means, please pause to find out. Those two words may preserve your congregation’s civil liberties some day.)
Upon closer inspection, churches aspiring to orthodoxy may still barely pass muster with Caesar, even in Connecticut. A few pages preceding the quoted guidelines for Communion, the Connecticut policy offers a concession:
While these suggestions are not rules, before rejecting them, faith leaders should pause and seriously consider the health consequences for at-risk devotees and for the broader community where the House of Worship is based.
In other words, public shame rather than prosecution by the state should dissuade congregations, which gave up meeting together in mid March (contrary to Hebrews 10:12), from returning to the Lord’s Supper (despite the Lord’s mandate in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and 1 Corinthians). Is Caesar too cowardly to censor the church himself, so instead he incites the mob to do it for him?
To those who are especially sensitive about keeping their neighbors healthy, let me assure you that I in no way wish any epidemiological harm upon anybody. I simply do not accept the ever-popular, but ill-founded, disjunctive syllogism: as if either we close church to keep everyone healthy, or else we open church and everyone dies. Let’s open church, let’s celebrate the Lord’s supper, and let’s sing hymns without spitting on each other, just as Christians have done for millennia.
To my fellow Christians in Connecticut, I urge you to seek ways to reopen your churches while simultaneously preserving Christ’s theology and taking reasonable care for the health and safety of all people. As you make those plans in the face of policies like the one quoted above, ask your lawyer what the Supreme Court says concerning state policies that bear down upon you with a “chilling effect” upon your First Amendment liberties. Hint: I expect you’ll find some solid case law in your favor.
Dr. Ryan C. MacPherson is the founding president of Into Your Hands LLC and the author of several books, including Rediscovering the American Republic (2 vols.) and Debating Evolution before Darwinism. He lives with his wife Marie and their homeschooled children in Mankato, Minnesota, where he teaches American history, history of science, and bioethics at Bethany Lutheran College. He also serves as President of the Hausvater Project, which mentors Christian parents. For more information, visit www.ryancmacpherson.com.
TAGS: Religious Liberty, COVID-19