Blessings and thanks to all the churches, businesses, social groups and individuals who followed the governor's directives even when Union Country felt so safe it was hard not to feel smug. That safety hung on our relative isolation, which is exactly what the governor's orders were meant to enforce. Union County's very concerted effort and compliance almost worked.

Most county churches did not meet regardless of how parishioners and church leaders felt. Only Lighthouse Pentecostal Church felt their religious freedom bestowed divine immunity.

History graphically illustrates that churches in particular must watch their behavior toward those outside their belief system. The Crusades and early European settlers committed atrocities on non-Christians ostensibly in the name of God. Contempt and disregard for people of other faiths does not constitute religious freedom. Yet that is exactly what Lighthouse Church showed to our diverse community.

Trump and pastor Parker both underplayed the virus, and their followers not surprisingly followed. Even our county commissioners were sending mixed messages by not wearing face masks, not enforcing distancing and crowd size regulations at the church.

We don't yet know how many family members, friends and neighbors have literally been dealt a death blow. Certainly some businesses struggling to remain viable will now be forced from the community. Meanwhile the virus is alive and spreading among us.

Many locals have high regard for individualism and little regard for government. But democracies such as ours claim to have the citizens most in mind. For a democracy to work requires continual pressure in that direction through the voting process. I believe in the democratic process. Under that system fairness and justice should be what laws provide.

Many of those demonstrating for Black Lives Matter follow strict safety distancing guidelines for their own safety and the safety of those they encounter. However, they put themselves at risk to demonstrate support for long overdue changes to America's policing and culture. Demonstrations are critical to democracy.

This pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement are testing America's democracy.

Mary McCracken

Island City

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