Churches and other houses of worship no longer have capacity restrictions following the governor’s phase 3 order but some church leaders say they’re keeping their safety rules in place.
On Wednesday nights before the pandemic, the Living Faith Christian Center would be filled with people eager for bible study. Nearly a year later, the governor is lifting restrictions, but the church is still empty because Bishop Raymond Johnson decided to keep their capacity rules in place.
The North Baton Rouge Mega Church seats 2,400 people, but only 650 are allowed inside. Johnson is asking other churches to do the same. In an open letter, Johnson pleads with pastors to limit in-person services until more people are vaccinated.
“We’ve seen people die from this and just the pain, and suffering that it causes families, and I couldn’t with good conscious see myself allowing people to come in beyond a number I felt like is safe,” Johnson said.
While some are being overly cautious, other Louisiana pastors have kept their doors wide open for months. Earlier this week, EBR District Attorney’s office confirmed they will continue to prosecute Central Pastor Tony Spell for disobeying the governor’s orders. The pastor is accused of allowing too many people to gather inside, and violating COVID-19 mitigation rules.
The new rules for churches went into effect Wednesday, but when it comes to safety, Johnson says he doesn’t mind waiting a little longer.
“We should be able to get everybody vaccinated by the summer, so then I’m looking towards the summer, July, August, of being able to bring in pretty much my full regimen of services,” Johnson said.
Ochsner is planning to vaccinate 500 people at Living Faith Christian Center on Saturday.