Howard County Maryland and the Devil in the Religious Service Details

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Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonderandhome.com

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24 Responses

  1. Avatar Marchmaine
    Ignored
    says:

    Why does Maryland hate Zwingli?

    Lutherans: Hoc Est! [pounds table]
    Catholics: When you say “food”…
    Orthodox: About this word “kind”…

    That part of the order won’t survive contact with fresh air let alone the courts. What’s more interesting is the 10 person limit vs. 50% capacity limit… which also seems strangely targeted and will neither be obeyed, enforced nor survive the courts. Especially given the additional details regarding Retail Space:

    Maximum occupancy is calculated in the following way:
    i. For street level floor space divide the square footage by 30.

    Strikes me as focusing on wearing masks (especially if curtailing music isn’t an option) and reducing capacity would be more than sufficient – and is pretty much what the guidelines being issued diocese by diocese are doing anyway.

    Distributing communion to the faithful is a trickier question… but would require a lot of inside baseball and excess words to review.Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to Marchmaine
      Ignored
      says:

      It’s effectively meaningless (at least as far as Catholic mass goes). They are Archdiocese of Baltimore which is already operating in a way that does not push up against any of this.

      It’s pretty telling there’s no comment from the Archdiocese and at a glance the article contains no quotes from actual Catholics in the county. The only one documented as ‘crying foul’ is CNA.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to InMD
        Ignored
        says:

        Possibly… (But I’m not 100% sure what you’re saying is effectively meaningless, though)… it seems both Lori and Howard County issued their Guidelines on the same day… so I think there’s still some sorting out going on.

        The Diocese Phase II guidelines don’t follow the indoor restrictions, but otherwise are very conservative. However, they do cede (voluntarily) that they won’t open where there are 10-person restrictions (plus Pastors can make local decisions); if Lori knew that was coming and is fine with it, then I expect he has a sense of when Howard will lift those restrictions… if he didn’t, there may be pushback as time goes on as the restrictions seem somewhat arbitrary and unequally applied.

        Obviously the bigger issue are the directives which impact the Eucharist… to which the Diocese very politely responded on the 27th by referring the county to their Phase II guidelines.

        Lori and CNA are “on the same team” and CNA does quote “the Archdiocese” directly, so I wouldn’t put much daylight between them… if CNA says something, its because Lori wants it said.Report

        • Avatar InMD in reply to Marchmaine
          Ignored
          says:

          To clarify I’m saying the county restrictions are effectively meaningless (at least for now) because no one seems to be pushing up against them in any material way and I’d be very surprised if anyone did. There are a myriad of ways to recieve the Eucharist (and other sacraments) that have been in place since the beginning. Getting this specific with guidelines for churches is probably dumb, but not much more than that in the context.Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to InMD
            Ignored
            says:

            Gotcha… sure, as long as Lori voluntarily abides by the 10-person cut-off then there’s no Public Mass and hence no conflict with Howard County.

            Open question how long the Howard county Catholics will be willing to be “closed” while the rest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore will be “open.”

            And/or whether Howard moves off their indefensible guidelines and basically adopts the Archdiocese’s… which is what Lori is (non-confrontationally) suggesting.

            Might be those rabble rousing Protestants who will make the confrontation explicit in a shorter window.Report

            • Avatar InMD in reply to Marchmaine
              Ignored
              says:

              My bet is that as long as things seem to be moving along without baseless delays no one on the Catholic side is going to fight over it. Howard County as I’m sure you know is part of the urban corridor which is all moving slower than the rural parts of the state, which I think makes sense.

              The Protestants though might feel differently I suppose.Report

  2. Avatar PD Shaw
    Ignored
    says:

    No idea about the underlying merits, but it appears the SCOTUS is considering accepting an appeal on religious issues out of California or Illinois, both states have been asked to respond to writs of certiorari later today. Both of the lead plaintiffs in those appeals are Pentecostal churches.Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    If my bars in my part of much-harder-hit NJ can offer take-out cocktails and mixed drinks, surely they can figure out a way to do the Eucharist.

    What’s the protocol for takeout food in Howard County? Follow that process to individually package some bread and wine, arrange a contact-less distribution system, and voila.Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      HoCo has had delivery and take out pick-up throughout the crisis. All of Maryland has. They’re in phase 1 now which allows general retail pickup at the door but not going inside.Report

    • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      I suspect it may be influenced by the beliefs of the believers in re: what Eucharist/communion represents. In my congregation (Disciples of Christ, a “reform” group that’s kind of an out growth of Presbyterianism), we see the elements as pretty much symbolic and they’ve encouraged us to either find something at home (I have used tortillas and a glass of water) as a stand-in, and in my congregation they’re talking about having the individually-wrapped wafer and juice set ups used for taking Communion to those in hospital or homebound, and maybe doing a drive-up thing where we can pull into the lot and be given the wrapped elements by a gloved and masked Elder or the minister….

      We’ve had video services online, and they have a time in the service where the minister gives the Words of Institution, and if you choose, you take your communion stand in then. It works, but as I told a friend….it feels a little hollow. Then again, lots of things do right now.

      and once we’re back in person, the plan is to use the pre-wrapped ones, at least for a while, so you don’t have Elders at the table breathing over the juice when they pray.

      There might be more issues for denominations that see the elements as less purely-symbolic than we do.Report

      • Avatar gabriel conroy in reply to fillyjonk
        Ignored
        says:

        I’m very much a *lapsed* Catholic, and even when I was unlapsed, I didn’t really know much about the eucharist, etc. (and had long forgotten whatever statements I had to memorize in order to take my first communion). But as I understand it, doing some sort of drive-by or takeout communion wouldn’t necessarily go against the Church doctrine. I do imagine that taking the Host (which, as I understand, is Christ incarnate) is problematic because….might the congregants forget to take It, or accidentally drop It?

        It’s very, very possible that my statements about what can be done and what is “problematic” are misinformed on a lot of counts. So apologies to the non-lapsed Catholics here who know more.Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to gabriel conroy
          Ignored
          says:

          If I may… you are absolutely correct that it is possible to offer a communion only service (not a mass) – this is very common on Good Friday, for example – and many parishes are offering this as a sort of “spill-over” option to 1/2 capacity masses so folks can at least receive communion. Plus, of course, designated Eucharistic Ministers can take consecrated Hosts and deliver them to sick/shut-ins… there’s a full panoply of guidelines.

          There is, however, a hard and fast requirement that the Host is consumed in the presence of the person administering the sacrament.

          So, no “self-service” type option, but sure… there exist options for dispensing just the Eucharist.Report

          • Avatar veronica d in reply to Marchmaine
            Ignored
            says:

            I hate that this has become so polarized. There were a few, mostly hard right wing churches, who totally thumbed their nose at any restrictions, but I’m quite sure most ministers (and other various religious leaders) understand that the health of their parishioners is rather important. I’m pretty sure God, however you conceive the idea of God, doesn’t want us to spread disease.

            On that, in Christianity there is the “shepherd and flock” metaphor. Would a good shepherd irresponsibly sicken their flock?

            Of course not. Nonsense.

            It’s important to recall the one “superspread” event that happened at a choir practice. People were together in a room with poor ventilation for about an hour. They were singing, which expels a lot of air from the lungs. One person came in infected. All but a handful got sick. A couple died.

            Obviously a traditional Christian service, in a room packed with people praying and singing hymns, is a terrible idea. However, there are many other ways to “gather in worship.” For example, outside (weather permitting). Outside, with sufficient space between family units, seems sufficiently safe. I’m sure there are other ways.

            It’s not zero-risk, but that’s not the point. It’s low risk. That might be enough.

            Anyway, I’m morally certain that, working in cooperation, religious leaders and public health officials can figure out a safe way to perform communion.

            And yes, there will be a small minority of religious leaders who continue to behave terribly. They’re risking the health of their entire community, not just their followers. They’re risking the health of everyone around their followers. It’s deeply irresponsible.

            Even as a non-Christian, I think I can safely say that WWJD does not apply to those asshats. They risk “superspread” events. They risk causing sickness and death.

            Jesus walked among the lepers, but he didn’t take skin scrapings of infected tissue and then spread it around the general population of Jerusalem.

            Just as I very much hope that public health officials work closely with religious leaders to find safe and respectful ways to navigate this, I hope that mainline religious leaders will support the state in shutting down irresponsible churches that needlessly risk people’s lives.Report

            • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to veronica d
              Ignored
              says:

              I take your point about some Christians acting irresponsibly (some Catholics even, from what I’ve heard in our Parish)… but most of the published guidelines I’ve seen are pretty tight, well informed, and probably much better thought-out vis-a-vis the realities of church-going than the Public Health officials guidelines. But America’s a big place and lots of folks do stupid things.

              And, I realized that I hadn’t linked to the Archdiocese guidelines. Admittedly, the only thing worse than corporate guidelines are Ecclesiastic corporate guidelines… but honestly, the Church guidelines are so, erm, conservative that the State should adopt them as the guidelines for Retail and all the other places that are opening up.

              But to your point on singing:

              “Based on scientific research and the opinion of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Chorus America, the Barbershop Harmony Society, and the Performing Arts Medical Association (PAMA) congregational singing by the assembly is suspended until further notice. Because singing expels significantly more aerosolized particles of virus than speaking, it creates a much greater risk of spreading the virus. In particular, choirs should not rehearse or sing until further notice.” (Phase I guidelines)

              I agree that the Public Health and Religious leaders working together should be able to navigate reasonable guidelines. I’m not sure this is happening synchronously (perhaps asynchronously) as illustrated by these events (and Illinois and elsewhere). Ultimately Govt. Guidelines/Directives should assume good faith and compliance, else they aren’t good faith in themselves.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Marchmaine
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m unsurprised that the Catholic church has sensible guidelines. I expect the mainline protestants do as well. Most churches probably do, because most churches take their responsibility seriously.

                (Let me add, we’ve been focusing on Christianity here, but I’m sure the same applies to other religions as well.)

                I guess my concern is about the polarization. These things tend to end up in court, with blunt solutions, which in turn risks giving license to the moonbats to behave irresponsibility.

                Which actually, I think this gives a pretty strong incentive to the public health officials to work closely with the major churches to find workable solutions. I wonder if they’ll be smart enough to see this and act accordingly. (Some will. Some won’t. Some judges will handle the inevitable cases well. Some won’t.)Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to fillyjonk
        Ignored
        says:

        Also: Presbyterians can drink!

        (You can only get baptized once, though.)Report

        • fillyjonk fillyjonk in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          Oh, so can DoC. I just personally choose not to, for personal reasons. I have no problems with other people doing so as long as I’m not constantly tasked as the “designated driver”

          We….actually permit more than one baptism if there’s a good reason. I know someone who was baptized as an infant (in another denomination) who asked to be baptized as an adult after joining the congregation I belong to, because they wanted both to have a baptism they would remember, and to mark the start of a new life. (It’s typical in DoC to be baptized between the ages of 11 and 16, though there’s a pretty wide range of exceptions to that)Report

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