It’s called, alternately, the Kiss of Peace, the Holy Kiss, the Passing of the Peace, the Sign of Peace and even the Holy Howdy. A variety of churches feature some form of the practice within their liturgies, and its roots can be traced back to the earliest days of Christianity.

But the kiss of peace requires contact between humans, and such contact can lead to the exchange of bugs. On a normal Sunday, that risk worries few. But in the days of a potential pandemic, some churches are taking precautions.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis sent a letter to all its pastors Thursday recommending that they consider using “extra-precautionary measures … to lessen the spread of this flu.”…
The Council on American-Islamic Relations suggested that imams tell people to temporarily avoid handshakes or hugs of greeting during traditional communal prayers Friday.
“In times of crisis, public health and safety takes precedence over normal actions and activities that could lead to the spread of infection,” Nihad Awad, CAIR’s executive director said in a statement…
Rabbi Hyim Shafner of Bais Abraham Congregation in University City said he had no plans to alter this weekend’s service but that “if there was really an epidemic, and we felt gathering was dangerous, we wouldn’t do it.” He said Jewish law would allow him to cancel the Sabbath worship if lives are in danger. (More)


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