A free church congregation from Herford in Westphalia defends itself against accusations that it violated Corona regulations over the weekend. The police officers had written 111 charges for violation of the Infection Protection Act.
For example, there was no singing during a meeting broken up by police on Saturday evening, the lawyer of the German-Russian congregation of Jesus Christ, Lutz Klose, told the "Westfalen-Blatt" (Tuesday) in Bielefeld. "The choir singing was recorded and came from a stereo system."All members of the congregation would also have had masks with them. Whether these had always been worn, will be seen.
According to police, the more than 100 participants had neither kept their distance nor worn mouth-nose protection. The officers would have clearly heard singing already from outside. In addition, the community had not announced its meeting in advance, explained the city of Herford at the request of the Catholic News Agency (KNA). The police wrote a total of 111 charges for violation of the law on protection against infection.
Church services allowed under Corona conditions
In North Rhine-Westphalia, church services and other religious events are generally permitted even during the lockdown. However, the participants have to keep their distance, wear masks and are not allowed to sing. The congregations are obliged to inform the authorities about church services and other gatherings.
In recent months, there have been repeated accusations against free church groups for breaking Corona rules. Recently, for example, a Pentecostal congregation in Essen is said to have sung at a meeting with more than 80 participants and not to have kept their distance. A similar incident also occurred in the Munich area over the weekend.
Sociologist of religion: Strong skepticism among many free-church congregations
The Munster sociologist of religion Detlef Pollack explains the violations also with the self-conception of the congregations. Among many free-church and evangelical groups, there is a strong sense of skepticism about the state measures, he said in the KNA interview. "One’s own special religious interpretation is often placed above scientific and governmental authorities," said the scientist.
Pollack explained that personal contact and communal prayer are of great importance to many Free Church adherents. The Catholic dioceses and Protestant regional churches would have accepted, in contrast to many free churches from the outset, the statements of the policy and largely refrained from interpreting the Corona crisis exclusively in the light of the Gospel, for example, as a punishment of God or a test for the human being.
At the same time, the scientist emphasized that one cannot lump all free-church and evangelical associations together. Among the congregations, there are also those who take the guidelines seriously. "The free-church and evangelical spectrum is very polarized within itself."