Churches in New York are steadfast in keeping their doors closed amid the coronavirus pandemic to continue slowing the spread … despite President Trump‘s plan for an Easter revival.
TMZ has spoken with 9 NYC church leaders, and all of them are standing firm in vowing to keep their places of worship empty on April 12 holy day.
Reverend Peggy Clarke of Community Church New York tells us … she considers Trump’s push for Americans to attend church together in a couple weeks “stunningly unethical,” adding “Easter is a celebration of love and victory over death. The best symbol of that will be empty churches on Easter Sunday.”
Rev. James Ross Smith of The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin says while he’s incredibly sad about not opening his doors on Easter, he shares Rev. Peggy’s sentiment. Smith says … “It is our responsibility and duty to take care of each other, and one of the ways we do that is by listening to the health experts.”
Another leader we spoke with, Pastor Patrick Thompson of New City Church, has been personally affected by the pandemic — he tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday after experiencing symptoms of a fever about a week ago, and is in self-quarantine.
Thompson says … “We are focusing on our new reality. Church isn’t just about gathering, it’s about sending people out. Even if we get a go-ahead from the federal government, we will not meet in person on Easter for safety purposes.”
The pastor tells us he was distributing meals to homeless shelters and senior centers with members of his church just days before he began feeling symptoms of the coronavirus. Thing is … they were wearing masks and gloves, so it highlights how dangerous it would be for church members to congregate too soon … especially with NYC being the epicenter of the COVID-19 onslaught.
All of these churches — along with Church of St. Francis Xavier, Grace Church, Trinity Church Wall Street, Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity, Church of the Incarnation and Holy Family Catholic Church — agree that Trump’s push for a public Easter celebration isn’t going to affect their decision to remain closed.
They may be preaching to the choir in NYC, but in other parts of the U.S. … the President’s goal to business as usual on Easter is gaining traction.