Re: “Churches are correct to leave their pews empty for now” [May 28, Opinion]:

Two months have passed since the editorial board of The Seattle Times (rightly) praised religious organizations across the Puget Sound region for finding alternatives to in-person worship due to reasons of safety. Yet churches across the country continue to press government officials to allow them to reopen, even as coronavirus cases have skyrocketed.

The fact that the Supreme Court on July 24 denied the petition of Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley in Nevada to reopen by a single vote (5-4) should give us all pause. If churches are allowed to gather en masse, we are going to witness a disaster.

To church leaders who insist on the “right” to gather or feel victimized, my message (as a fellow pastor) is this: Stop putting yourself, your desires and your “rights” before the safety of others, and stop grumbling that the world doesn’t view your church as “essential.” No church is — at least not in the same way grocery stores are!

The only way a church can be “essential” is by the example it gives to others. To truly “love thy neighbor,” people of faith must continue to find alternatives to in-person worship until the pandemic passes.

The Rev. Dr. Dan Peterson, pastor, Queen Anne Lutheran Church, Seattle