Protest against church closures held outside Alabama Capitol
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A freedom protection rally and church service took place on the steps of Alabama’s Capitol Saturday morning.
Peaceful protesters voiced their opinions on the state’s recommendation to keep houses of worship closed during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s time for the church to stand up,” said Brandon Gallups, associate pastor at Redeemed Ministries in Blount County. “The church has been told we can’t have church and a lot of people that does not sit well with. A lot of people are tired of that.”
“The church has been silent and silenced,” said Shawn Hazelrig with Redeemed Ministries. “It’s time that the church stand up and be the church.”
The event was organized by the freedom protection group Focus on America. Organizers Rebecca Rogers and Jim Bridges said they put the event together because they say their freedoms and rights are being infringed upon.
“The church absolutely should be open,” Rogers said. “You can’t tell me a time in history where Jesus shut down the church. So if it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for us. We need to stand up for our rights and that’s what the church is called to do.”
Gov. Kay Ivey and state health officials made the decision to close houses of worship in April, but have since relaxed restrictions.
However, despite restrictions being relaxed, many churches still think it’s too soon to reopen and have chosen to continue with online services. Some have even had worship outdoors.
Gallups said their church closed their doors in April under Ivey’s mandate, but that once restrictions were relaxed they knew it was time to reopen their doors.
“We started doing the math and seeing 100 and something suicide calls during the time when zero people had died from the coronavirus in Blount County,” Gallups said. “Hundreds of calls for people that had overdosed during that time. Children being taken away from families and taken into DHR custody. Domestic violence cases going through the roof. Prescription drug use going through the roof again in our country because people are isolated at home and depression is setting in like never before. It’s time to have church.”
“To try to shut down the one source of hope for them? People are dying when they are not able to gather together,” Hazelrig said. “The reality is, Jesus Christ is the only way out of addiction.”
Another thing many attendees did not support? The state’s mandatory mask mandate.
“I have no problem if you want to wear a mask or don’t,” Gallups said. “The United States of America was founded on individual liberties. Matter of fact, Benjamin Franklin made a statement that those who give up essential freedoms for temporary safety deserve neither freedom nor safety.”
“I’m not saying that [COVID-19} is not real, but it’s not something that we need to give up our freedoms for because we will never get them back,” Gallups continued.
Event organizers said they plan to continue to spread their message until freedoms are guaranteed.
“This is not the last time we’ll do this,” Bridges said. “We’ll continue to do it until we get some changes made.”
“The hope is that this is something that will catch on,” Galllups said. “And the church is not a church building, the church is the body of Christ. Our hope is the body of Christ will realize it’s time for us to be who we are supposed to be.”
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