During the 1918 influenza pandemic that ultimately killed 50 million to 100 million people, different answers to that same question resulted in either collective well-being or widespread, devastating loss.
The US Supreme Court recently decided 5-4 to grant religious organizations in New York state relief from restrictions on the number of people attending religious services. In light of this development, looking back a century can offer guidance for religious institutions deciding to stay shuttered or reopen.
In 1918, many churches around the world closed their doors to save lives. Without financial support, some churches eventually closed permanently, while others survived with dropped-off donations and serving as hospitals instead of sanctuaries. For some families, the home became the altar.
Those who refused to adapt to the pandemic reaped the consequences.
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