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Pastor Jentezen Franklin urges Christians to vote their faith after Calif. bans singing in church

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Megachurch pastor Jentezen Franklin cried “discrimination” and urged Christians to vote their faith in November as the California Department of Public Health issued updated guidelines Wednesday, forbidding churches from singing during services to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“California’s Governor just banned singing/chanting at church. Catholics can’t recite mass; Evangelicals can’t worship out loud. The very definition of discrimination is to allow thousands to march and scream without masks while telling churches 100 or less that you cannot sing,” Franklin, who is senior pastor of the multi-campus Free Chapel Church in Gainesville, Georgia, tweeted Friday.

“Christians must realize the radical left will restrict & control church if we don’t vote our faith this November! Are you registered to vote your faith?”

A few weeks ago, California began allowing the reopening of churches for in-person services with guidelines after requiring most Californians in March to stay at home to disrupt the spread of COVID-19 among the population. As the number of cases began inching upwards again, public health officials said singing and chanting in houses of worship must not happen.

“Even with adherence to physical distancing, convening in a congregational setting of multiple different households to practice a personal faith carries a relatively higher risk for widespread transmission of the COVID-19 virus, and may result in increased rates of infection, hospitalization, and death, especially among more vulnerable populations,” health officials noted in the new guidelines document.

“In particular, activities such as singing and chanting negate the risk reduction achieved through six feet of physical distancing. *Places of worship must therefore discontinue singing and chanting activities and limit indoor attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower,” they advised.

Houses of worship, along with other places of work such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, prisons, food production, warehouses, meat processing plants, and grocery stores, were identified as places that had suffered multiple outbreaks of COVID-19.

A report from the Skagit County Public Health Department in Washington State published by the CDC in May showed how quickly the coronavirus spread after a choir practice became a “superspreader event” for the disease that infected 86% of attending members and killed two of them.

While churches are still allowed to operate with restrictions, California health officials strongly recommended that places of worship continue to facilitate remote services and other related activities for those who are vulnerable to COVID-19, including older adults and those with underlying conditions.

Like Franklin, many other evangelical leaders saw the banning of singing in churches in California as a hypocritical assault on religious freedom.

“The ‘science’ that allows for protests but prohibits singing in church is ‘fake science’ that must be rejected. If being outside makes protests safe, then why are beaches being shut down?” Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas asked on Twitter Friday.

Tony Suarez, chief operating officer of the Sacramento-based National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said he would rather be jailed than stop singing in church.

“I’ll go to jail before I’ll stop singing to my God! This just turned into our Daniel chapter six moment. California has just banned singing/chanting in houses of worship,” Suarez said, encouraging civil disobedience.

He also shared a statement from NHCLC President Samuel Rodriguez who noted: “You cannot permit tens of thousands to march in protest without masks and demand that 100 worshipers refrain from singing. That my friend is the very definition of discrimination. @GavinNewsom please stop discriminating! #inalienablerights.”

Tom Buck, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Lindale, Texas, also encouraged Christians in California to reject the ban on singing.

“This is where every church should draw the line & practice civil disobedience. They must choose to obey God rather than man! Of course, part of that involves being willing to suffer the consequences, but the churches must not bow to this totalitarian order,” he said.

Some churches, meanwhile, are choosing to abide by the guidelines.

Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa chose to be “flexible” and “safe” and avoid congregational singing. Instead of the typical series of worship songs, the worship team sang from the stage while reading scriptures and encouraging the congregation to meditate and pray.

“It’s not the end of the world if the health department says it’s not the best idea for you to be singing congregationally,” Senior Pastor Brian Brodersen said Sunday. “We’re mature enough. We have the Lord. We can navigate that. We don’t have to get all stressed out about it.”

Jason Batt, chief operating officer of Capital Christian Center, one of the Sacramento area’s largest congregations, told The Sacramento Bee, “We recognize that singing is a challenge.” He said the choir has been put on hold for the time being and the church only had limited singing on stage during the recent reopening.

Sources:Christian Post

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Priests and monks abducted in Haiti have been released

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HAITI – The remaining Catholic clergy who were kidnapped in Haiti earlier in April have been released, a missionary group said Friday.

The Society of Priests of Saint Jacques said the clergy were freed but did not say if a ransom had been paid.

A total of 10 people were abducted in Croix-des-Bouquets, a town northeast of the capital Port-au-Prince, on April 11, including the seven clergy — three of whom have already been released.

The clergy members were a group of four priests and a nun from Haiti, as well as one priest and one nun from France. The three non-clergy were members of the family of a Haitian priest, who was not among those kidnapped.

“Our hearts are filled with joy because we have found our colleagues, the sisters and the family members of Father Jean Anel Joseph in good health,” the missionary society said in a statement, without specifying whether a ransom has been paid.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, is plagued by insecurity and natural disasters.

Kidnappings for ransom have surged in recent months in Port-au-Prince and other provinces, reflecting the growing influence of armed gangs in the Caribbean nation.

Haiti’s government resigned and a new prime minister was appointed in the wake of the kidnappings, a move President Jovenel Moise said “will make it possible to address the glaring problem of insecurity and continue discussions with a view to reaching the consensus necessary for the political and institutional stability of our country.”

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New Jersey Government with the announced  give free beer to Covid vaccine recipients

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday announced a new bid to boost coronavirus vaccinations: Receive your first dose in May and get a free beer.

“We’re not going to be afraid to try new things,” Murphy said as he unveiled the new program, dubbed “Shot and a Beer,” at a press briefing.

Thirteen New Jersey-based breweries are participating in the program — which is only available to state residents ages 21 years and older, Murphy specified.

Those New Jerseyans will have to show their vaccine cards as proof before receiving their reward, the Democratic governor said.

The breweries themselves are footing the bill for the free drinks, said Murphy, who suggested more beer-makers could soon be added to the list.

The breweries currently participating are: Battle River Brewing, Bradley Beer Project, Bolero Snort Brewing Company, Brix City Brewing Company, Carton Brewing Company, Flounder Brewing Company, Flying Fish Brewing Company, Gaslight Brewery and Restaurant, Hackensack Brewing Company, Kane Brewing Company, Little Dog Brewing Company, Magnify Brewing Company and River Horse Brewing Company.

The program came from the New Jersey Department of Health in partnership with the Brewer’s Guild of New Jersey.

The Garden State is hardly the first to propose an outside-the-box incentive for people to get vaccinated.

West Virginia’s Republican Gov. Jim Justice last week announced an initiative to give $100 savings bonds to younger state residents who get vaccinated.

Connecticut is offering its own alcoholic incentive with its “Drinks On Us” campaign: Residents who get fully vaccinated and show their vaccine cards at certain restaurants will score a free drink between May 19 and May 31.

Incentive or no, vaccine rates are rising. More than 29% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University, and cases and deaths from Covid are on the decline.

But a significant number of Americans say they are not willing to get vaccinated. A Monmouth University poll published in mid-April found that about 1-in-5 Americans say they won’t get the shot.

That’s prompting health officials and leaders at every level of government to urge more people to seek out and receive their vaccinations.

The “Shot and a Beer” campaign is just one piece of New Jersey’s broader slate of programs aimed at returning the state to a more normal summer as the fight against the pandemic continues.

Murphy announced the free-beer plan after detailing the “Grateful for the Shot” initiative, which makes it possible for congregants to go from religious services directly to vaccination sites.

It’s “perhaps at the other end of the spectrum” of incentives, Murphy said.

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