Influenza halted normal worship in Americus
Americus experienced influenza relatively late into the global pandemic. Americus residents went about their daily activities--including attending church services--until the second wave hit the United States in the fall of 1918.
Churches were asked to close their doors in October 1918 at the same time public places were closed by city proclamation. Many agreed with the public health officals and closed their doors to public services to help prevent others catching the sickness. Despite this, pastors still kept busy by performing funeral services for the lives who were lost in the pandemic. Results from closing public gathering places had produced reduced numbers in cases and deaths, health officials considered opening public places again. This thought was quickly shot down with fear of rising numbers in cases.
Opposition to the Lockdown of Churches in Americus
With no luck lifting the ban on church gatherings, the Minister Union began to split over how the pandemic affects religion. Preachers like Rev. George F. Brown who were not content stating that their Christian duties should not be halted because of the pandemic. It was a back-and-forth struggle between pastors and health officials butting heads with the fear of rising cases if pubic places reopen.
Racial tensions created more conflict between white and black pastors during the pandemic. Rev. Brown and other pastors argued that churches are business institutions and should be subjected as such. Health officials responded saying the greatest health risk layed with African American churches. They stated that African American churches gathered three to five hours on Sunday nights. This response satisfied white ministers, but angered African American leaders within the community. Led by Rev. Wade Reddick, he and other pastors responded to the statement as a "flagrant injustice to a large percentage of church-going negros of our city."
Open the Churches!
With the slow of the virus and control over the pandemic is established, health officials still urged that lockdowns still be in effect over the risk that opened public places would create another wave of the influenza pandemic. Led by Rev. George F. Brown, he and other pastors presented their arguement that what right does the local government have to prevent religious people from practicing their religion which is protected by the Constitution. The restrictions were later lifted and the newspaper called Brown the person who lifted the lockdowns.