In an exclusive interview with CBN News on Good Friday, Vice President Mike Pence says for the small number of pastors who are thinking of holding church services this Easter during the coronavirus pandemic, he has a direct biblical message.
"I would just remind, as a brother in Christ, that where two or more are gathered, there He is also," Pence told CBN's David Brody during a one-on-one interview at the White House.
Pence said he was full of gratitude for the majority of churches that have heeded the COVID-19 guidelines. He also implored people of faith to continue contributing to their local places of worship even during these difficult times.
(All images credit: CBN News)
The vice president revealed what he'll be doing over the Easter holiday. He and his wife Karen will watch an Easter service online from their home church in Indiana. Afterward, they plan to celebrate with a Skype Easter brunch with their children around the country.
"We're all making do," Pence said. "But we can still worship. We can still practice our faith and the really important social distancing that at this time in the life of our nation is just so important."
Check CBNNews.com for more of the interview this weekend, plus watch the full report on Monday's The 700 Club. Check local listings.
Below is the full transcription of one of Brody's questions and Pence's full answer.
David Brody: "The faith community, they by-in-large have been obeying those guidelines. I do want to address some of those pastors that are still holding services. And I know that's the minority of pastors, but there are some who claim religious freedom, all of that. What do you say? What's your message to those that are still holding services in the pews?"
Vice President Mike Pence: "I would have a message to faith communities across the country and first and foremost it would be a word of gratitude. Our churches and synagogues and communities of faith across America have risen to the challenge. I talked to my mom this morning. She had a neighbor who was bringing over some fresh groceries, it would be impossible to fully describe what faith communities, even during a time of social distancing and not even being able to meet, have still been putting hands and feet on their faith. And it's one of the reasons the President and I have taken efforts to remind every American as I do so again, that even if you're not in the pew on Sunday, that ministry is still going on. And so to the extent that you're able to continue to contribute to your local church, your local synagogue, your ministry, we encourage you to that because those communities of faith are making such an immense difference. And we are also grateful that most communities of faith around the country have heeded the President's Coronavirus guidelines for America and avoided gatherings of more than 10. And those who would, as we go into this very precious Easter weekend might think otherwise, I would just remind as a brother in Christ that where two or more are gathered, there He is also and this weekend my wife and I will gather in the living room at the Vice President's residence, we'll watch our home church, College Park in Indiana, and then after that we're going to have a Skype Easter brunch with our kid around the country. We're all making do. But we can still worship, we can still practice our faith and the really important social distancing that at this time, in the life of our nation is just so important."
Pence says he's both hopeful and cautious that America can start to slowly get back to normal in the month of May.
"We are nearing the peak of the Coronavirus and if Americans continue to do what they've been doing now, for weeks across the country...we believe we'd be in a very different place come the end of April and we'll be able to bring forward recommendations."
David Brody: "The President said the other day that he's hoping this will get back to at least some sense of normal very, very, very soon. How confident are you that after April 30, we may see some difference here in the economy and getting back to normal?"
Vice President Mike Pence: "Well, from all the way back in January, President Trump has taken decisive action to put the health of America first. Stood up the Coronavirus Task Force when there were only a few cases that had come in from China, suspended all travel from China into the United States before the month of January was over. And from the time that he tapped me to lead the Coronavirus Task Force, we've been bringing the very best recommendations and guidance to the American people. And despite the tragic losses, now more than 16,000 Americans have lost their lives and we grieve with those who grew, but we do not grieve like those who have no hope. On this very special day, our faith gives us hope. But also, because of what the American people have been doing, heeding the President's Coronavirus guidelines for America, heeding their state and local officials. David, we're seeing real progress. On the west coast, the numbers of cases remain low and steady, which is a tribute to the people in the leadership of Washington State and California. And even in the epicenter in the New York City, New Jersey area, Connecticut, we're continuing to see - despite tragic losses, we're seeing a decline in hospitalization. And what we hope is the beginning of a trend of a leveling of Coronavirus cases...same trends in New Orleans, encouraging news in Detroit. But it what's happening across the country because the American people have put the health of others first, they've been putting the guidelines into practice. And in all of these 30 days to slow the spread, we just urge every American to continue to do just that."
David Brody: "You expect something to change after April 30? From a guideline perspective?"
Vice President Mike Pence: "We're going to be following the data very carefully. But if as some of the experts suggest if we are nearing the peak of the Coronavirus and if Americans continue to do what they've been doing now, for weeks across the country, it's social distancing, avoiding gatherings of more than 10 using drive thru's at restaurants, and particularly being careful around seniors with serious underlying health conditions, by practicing hygiene and social distancing. We believe we'd be in a very different place come the end of April and we'll be able to bring forward recommendations. "The President is looking on a county-by-county basis about how we reopen America. The President’s given us a clear directive. We want to reopen America as soon as possible. But we want to do it responsibly in a manner that puts the health of the American people first."
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