The church that defied orders to stop worshiping


Anchorage Baptist Temple had upwards of 600 attendees this morning at its Sunday 11 am service, in defiance of Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’ order that no more than 15 people can gather together inside.

While Berkowitz’ code enforcers have come down hard on mom-and-pop diners, the enforcers were nowhere in sight this morning at the large campus on E. Northern Lights Blvd., where Senior Pastor Ron Hoffman preached a sermon on the different types of beliefs about truth (scientific, reason, emotional) and the one reliable truth.

About 40 cars were in the parking lot services, where the worship service was broadcast on a gigantic screen, but another 400 people were inside the chapel itself — some with masks, but most without. Attendance appears to have returned to normal for a gorgeous August day in Alaska.

The lack of enforcement on churches, while enforcement has taken a heavy-handed approach on restaurants, sets up a possible lawsuit against the Berkowitz Administration for arbitrary and capricious enforcement of what Berkowitz has called a “law” under his emergency powers, as he seeks to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Berkowitz has shutdown gatherings, restaurants, bars, and bingo halls for the entire month of August. Cases of COVID-19 in Anchorage have remained steady throughout the month, with the most recent 24-hour period yielding 52 new cases within the municipality.

Pastor Hoffman has stated that church will go on as usual, and this is his third in-person church service since the mayor’s orders to shut down were given on July 31.

This writer can attest that singing praise songs, a form of prayer, was difficult to do with a mask on because it’s hard to get enough oxygen.

In California on Friday, a Superior Court Judge upheld a church’s right to conduct indoor worship if attendees wear masks and stay six feet apart.

The judge ruled against Los Angeles County’s attempt to get a temporary restraining order against Grace Community Church in Sun Valley.

Grace Community Church and Pastor John MacArthur brought a complaint last week against California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and other officials, saying that they showed unconstitutional favoritism in enforcement of the various state and local regulations, and it was to the detriment of churches.

L.A. County’s lawsuit against the church asked the court to order MacArthur to only only conduct outdoor services and to force worshipers to wear masks and maintain a six-foot distance while engaging in worship.


  1. He is not picking on churches in order to avoid a loss for “prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. There is already case law against him, and I’m sure that he knows it. I’m not sure though, if he did lose, if the entire assembly would be held accountable if they did not immediately overturn such an action, since they granted him the authority. Let’s hope that we don’t have to find out.

    • Yeah. I’d love to see a red tag on the churches. Cowardice at its best. Pick and choose who you shut down.

  2. Our constitution has not been suspended. Hurray for the church. No one has the authority to curtail religious gatherings. Obviously no one cares about the homeless gathering and sharing booze and drugs on our streets. If they really cared they would invite these people into their homes for shelter.

  3. Anytime I’m in Anchorage I attend ABT. I love this church. Good for them the church should stand because government has no say.

  4. Matthew 18:20. Whenever two or three are gathered in my name, I am with them. People do not need to be in large groups or in a building to worship the Lord. Small groups socially distancing would be safe and still allow for worship.

    • It’s so cute that people believe worshipping en masse is the ultimate show of faith. In reality, it’s merely a platform to see and be seen in some sort of misguided proving ground to convince others of their deep, abiding faith. I’ve often wondered if these people are trying to convince others or themselves. God’s will does NOT usurp law in a civilized society. Those governing to attempt to keep us safe are doing the job they were, after all, elected to do. Pray at home.

      • Don’t be so hard on them. Though not intentionally, in a way they are sacrificing for a public purpose. Those dense church gatherings, weddings and funerals too, can (and have) easily turned into “super spreader” events. Many get infected, they infect their friends and families too. Some die or suffer for months (maybe much longer), some become “immune” and contribute positively to the march towards “herd Immunity.” Just wear your own mask, wash your hands when appropriate and stay well distanced from others – especially anyone you know who takes on this task. Being smart and appropriatly cautious you have a good chance of being safe.

      • Who cares what the church-goers’ motivation is! What’s your motivation to go to the liquor-store.
        Civilized society is built on commonly accepted values of the participants. These people find their values reinforced in communion with others. So be safe: Don’t risk (1 to 3,454,876,000,000 chance) doing a drive-by or you might catch a wiff of virus from someone breathing in the ABT.

        • Thanks, Jack, I appreciate the invitation but, alas, I must decline. Organized religion is my kryponite and I’m secure enough in my spirituality I’m not dependent upon, nor do I feel it the least bit necessary to designate a building to express that spirituality.

  5. The overlord Berkowitz has spoken. No constitutional rights in Anchorage. But just down the road in the land controlled by the Republicans no such stupidity.

  6. “…as he seeks to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the community.”

    His actions have little to do with controlling the Kung Flu.
    They are all about controlling people and following the Democrat party line of wrecking Trump’s economy.

  7. I’ve often wondered what type of people find Alaska appealing enough to settle there. I’ve seen enough in the 2 days since subscribing to this publication to put together a profile. It certainly is not attractive.

  8. “Cases of COVID-19 in Anchorage have remained steady throughout the month, with the most recent 24-hour period yielding 52 new cases within the municipality.”

    Let’s see 110 cases beginning August, 23 ten days later and then your 52 recently. What’s “steady” about that?

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