- Question: [Tuesday, 22nd Iyar, 5781]
I work in the city as an electrician and was recently offered a job of being in charge of the maintenance of the air-conditioning units in a group of churches. I will often need to enter the church sanctuary in order to perform the maintenance. May I do so?
It is forbidden to enter a church, whether the main sanctuary or any of the surrounding rooms or even the courtyard, due to the prohibition of entering a house of idolatry. Therefore, I’m sorry to inform you but you cannot take this job.
Explanation: According to all opinions it is forbidden to enter the main sanctuary of the church where the prayers take place. It is however under dispute whether one may enter the surrounding rooms and courtyard of the church in which the services do not take place in, and practically we rule that one is to be stringent like the second opinion that it is forbidden to be done.
Sources: See Michaber and Shach Y.D. 149:1 in name of Rambam in Pirush hamishnayos that it is forbidden to enter the home of idolatry, and Shach 149:2 that possibly one must even give up his life before entering. Rama Y.D. 149:2 regarding a dispute if one may enter the courtyard; See Chaim Bayad 26; Ruach Chaim Y.D; Peri Hasadeh 2:4; Kol Yehuda 28; Darkei Teshuvah 150:2, 6; Igros Moshe Y.D. 1:69; O.C. 2:40 regarding Maras Ayin and Chashad to enter a shul without Mechitza; Yechaveh Daas 3:65; Tzitz Eliezer 14:91; Mareh Bezek 1:22; Bnei Banim 3:35