Entering a Church

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  1. Some hold that entering a church nowadays is a serious prohibition, while entering a mosque is permitted.[1]
  2. It is permitted to enter a church in order to save someone's life such as if one is a paramedic or a firefighter.[2]
  3. If a person who does maintenance on air conditioning units and is asked to fix one in a church and if he doesn't do so would lose a significant amount of money should not enter a church. He can hire a non-Jew to hire another non-Jew to enter in order to fix it.[3]
  4. It is permitted to enter a church to save one's life.[4]
  5. Some say that it is permitted to pray in a non-denominational prayer room.[5]

Background

  • The Rambam (Avoda Zara 9:4) considers Christianity to be avoda zara. There is a large discussion within the opinion of Tosfot (Sanhedrin 63b s.v. asur) whether Christianity is considered avoda zara for non-Jews considering that they believe in the Trinity, which is a slight deviation from narrow monotheism. The opinion of Tosfot is cited by Rama OC 156. Pitchei Teshuva YD 147:2 cites the Nodeh BeYehuda YD 148 who writes that the opinion of Tosfot is that Christianity is avoda zara just not for the purposes of swearing by the name of a pagan God. Rav Soloveitchik (Nefesh HaRav p. 230) quoted Rav Chaim as supporting the approach of the Nodeh BeYehuda.
  • The Rambam (Maachalot Asurot 11:7) considers Islam not to be avoda zara.

Related Links

Sources

  1. Yabia Omer YD 2:11 and YD 7:12 holds that entering a church is forbidden but entering a mosque is permitted. Igrot Moshe YD 3:129:6 agrees that entering a church is forbidden even if one is just going to look at the artwork. Tzitz Eliezer 14:91 holds that entering a church or a mosque is forbidden.
  2. Rav Mordechai Halpern on yeshiva.org.il explained that it is a concern of ayvah not to save someone's life in a church building and that concern of pikuach nefesh allows one to enter.
  3. http://halachayomit.co.il/he/default.aspx?HalachaID=681
  4. Shulchan Aruch YD 157:3
  5. http://din.org.il/2017/08/22/%D7%91%D7%99%D7%AA-%D7%9B%D7%A0%D7%A1%D7%AA-%D7%94%D7%9E%D7%99%D7%95%D7%A2%D7%93-%D7%9C%D7%91%D7%A0%D7%99-%D7%9B%D7%9C-%D7%94%D7%93%D7%AA%D7%95%D7%AA/ argues that just like it is forbidden to enter a church it is forbidden to enter a non-denominational prayer room and the entire concept of having such a room is against the first two dibrot that religions are exclusive. Rav Moshe Feinstein in Mesoret Moshe v. 1 p. 46 is quoted by Rav Elimelech Bluth that it is permitted to pray in a non-denominational prayer room since it isn't designated for Christians specifically.