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Christian NIH director urges churches to close amid the COVID-19 crisis: Do 'altruistic' thing and say 'I'm going to protect people from me'

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A hard-line stance

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National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins — an outspoken Christian — is asking churches across America to do the "altruistic, loving thing" and close — or stay closed — amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to NPR.

What are the details?

On Thursday, Collins issued a nationwide plea to religious leaders, urging them to close their churches.

"The virus is having a wonderful time right now, taking advantage of circumstances where people have let their guard go down," Collins said. "Churches gathering in person is a source of considerable concern, and has certainly been an instance where super spreading has happened and could happen again."

He added, "Most churches really ought to be advised to go to remote services if they're not already doing so."

He made the remarks during a virtual conference with Russell Moore, who is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Collins pointed out that congregants initially seemed to fall in line with local public health directives, but seemed to falter when it came to longevity.

"Then you get to the end of the service," he said. "You can't get a bunch of Christians not to hug each other and not want to shake hands with the pastor as they go out the door and maybe have a conversation a lot closer than six feet away. And that's where the trouble happens."

Collins said that masks are a "lifesaving device," and not an "invasion of your political freedom" or a "political statement."

"Think about it that way," he urged. "And remember, when you put on that mask, you're protecting yourself from other people, but mostly you're protecting them from yourself. You're doing the altruistic, loving thing of saying, 'I'm going to protect people from me.' And that's a Christian action if ever I've heard one."

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