SAN FRANCISCO - Despite U.S. President Donald Trump calling for religious institutions to reopen on Friday, religious leaders throughout the Bay Area urged places of worship to instead continue holding online gatherings in the face of the novel coronavirus.
Members of the San Francisco National Association for the Advancement of Colored People announced that on Monday, Memorial Day, they along with black pastors and members of the Interfaith Council will gather outside of City Hall at noon to hold a "Social Distancing Sermon" to urge black churches to keep their doors closed.
"Worship is not relegated to a place; Jesus said the Kingdom of God is in you," Rev. Amos Brown said. "Pastors of all faiths and in all communities should take advantage of technology to keep in touch with their members, and not make snap judgments about the pandemic, but follow the science on re-opening," he added.
The demonstrators will be appropriately masked and maintain social distancing of six feet apart.
In addition to urging congregations to stay closed to ensure members are safe from COVID-19, the group will also call on city officials and the federal government to provide more medical and educational services for the city's black residents.
Because the virus the city's data has shown that people of color are the hardest hit by the virus, the group is calling on government officials to offer widespread testing in the black community, increased access to medical services, and educational support for black students in danger of falling behind on their studies due to classes being canceled or held remotely because of the COVID-19 shelter order.
The Northern California Islamic Council on Friday also urged its centers to stay closed.
"Mosques and religious institutions are essential but protecting and preserving the lives and promoting the well-being of everyone in the society takes precedent above the calls to open the doors to worshippers," the council said in a release on Friday afternoon.
The council will host an online Eid Celebration planned for Sunday. More information is available at www.norcalcouncil.org/eid.
The council added that it "respects the expertise of the medical and health professionals at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and adheres to the scientifically driven decisions based on data and best practices."